Wine is just fermented grape juice and yet for some reason it intimidates many. Sure there are special terms to describe wine but that’s true of most things; chocolate, coffee, baseball, football, just to name a few, yet you rarely hear people intimidated by these things. So why are so many intimidated and put off by wine, it’s just a beverage after all?
To find what you like you should experiment with different varietals. For white, I suggest you first try Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling. You can then determine if you like wine that is dry or sweet, oakey or crisp, citrusy or grassy. For reds, I suggest you try Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah. When tasting these decide if you like big and bold or soft and mellow, fruity or peppery, light or heavy.
Once you can identify the style of red or white wine you like then you can go to a local wine shop, Trader Joe’s, Bev Mo or even your local supermarket. Ask to speak to someone from the wine department and tell them your preferences from the above descriptors so they can steer you to wine that fits your taste profile. Keep in mind that by going to a specialty shop you can often find good value on unique wines that cost as much as mass market supermarket wine.
This is where wine becomes fun. Experiment to find not only the varietal that you like ie Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling but which region you prefer because the place where a grape is grown and the style in which it is made impacts its taste, this is often referred to as terroir
Also know that you do not have to spend a lot to enjoy wine, there truly is wine to fit every budget. Decide on a price point and then compare and contrast wines within that range. Also be sure to try wines from different states, countries and regions. You may find that you prefer Australian Chardonnay to California for example or Chilean Merlot over Washington. By going to a lesser known region you can often get more bang for your buck. Once you identify a varietal and a region that you like consider buying one bottle a bit more expensive and one a bit less expensive and see if you can tell the difference. That will help you to determine if its worth spending more or less for wine you enjoy.
Finally, you’ll hear a lot of rules about which kind of wine to drink with which food but the best advice I can give is to drink what you like with what you want. After all is said and done, preference in wine is completely subjective and there is no right or wrong as long as you enjoy what you are drinking!