6 Great Starter Wines

If you follow me on Instagram @thru_thegrapewine you already know that I have a couple of posts up that list three white and three red wines that are great for wine newbies. I decided to add them all to my blog as well and make a couple of recommendations for each so you can try them for yourselves. So, let’s go!

Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio)
Same wine but the Italians call it Pinot Grigio. This wine is light to medium in body and can be a great summer wine just by itself or be enjoyed with fish and veggies. It is pretty fruit forward, meaning you’ll get aromas and flavors of apple (sometimes green ), peach, lemon, or lime. There will be no tannins (the stuff that makes your mouth feel really dry or like you just sucked on a teabag of black tea), so it is super easy to drink. The Pacific Northwest has lots of great Pinot Gris, but you might also look at French or Italian names to mix it up.
Schiopetto Pinot Grigio 2018 (91,91,90 scores)
A to Z Pinot Gris 2020 (90 score)

Sauvignon Blanc
It is usually light-bodied and a little more astringent than the Pinot Gris. Think aromas and flavors of grapefruit or asparagus, green apple, gooseberry, and might even have some herbaceous aromas like green bell pepper. Goes really well with pork dishes or tofu if you’re vegetarian. You could try it with Thai food! Find American or French varieties (the French Sancerre pairs super well with goat cheese.)
Menage a Trois Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (95 score – Double Gold at the West Coast Wine Competition)
Trinchero Mary’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (91 score)

Careful, Chardonnay can be oaked or unoaked. Read the label or ask someone at the store to point out an unoaked one if you are not quite ready for the fuller-bodied oaked Chardonnay.
You’ll find aromas of apple, pineapple, starfruit, and it might have a buttery note. Oak will also add some subtle vanilla hints (or not so subtle if it was oaked for a longer time).
Enjoy with risotto, sushi, or chicken when unoaked, and with linguini, halibut, or pork when oaked. It’s a great atumn wine, too. Think pumpkin or squash! PNW Chardonnays tend to be unoaked more often than California ones. Also consider Chablis (France) or a New Zealand Chardonnay.
Naturalis Chardonnay 2020 (90 score) (unoaked)
Napa Cellars Chardonnay 2018 (93 score) (oaked)

Pinot Noir
I live in the Pacific Northwest. Pinot Noir is practically Oregon’s state wine. Practically every winery here sells at least one Pinot Noir, and generally they are pretty light-bodied reds that are a little earthy and have those red fruit aromas like red raspberry, red cherry, and strawberry.
Pinot pairs well with pork or chicken. It is also my preferred wine with a Thanksgiving dinner.
Complicated Pinot Noir 2019 (91 score)
Trinity Oaks Pinot Noir 2020

Zinfandel is a popular grape in California. In Italy they call it Primitivo! Unlike Pinot Noir, Zinfandel is a full-bodied wine and very fruity with notes of dark fruit like blackberry, boysenberry, plum, but sometimes also candied fruit. Often it will have a little spice to it that can linger for a while. You’ll also find that Zinfandel has a higher percentage of alcohol so leaves a bit more of the burning sensation in your throat. Zinfandel pairs really well with red meats, BBQ, pork, bacon, and even lamb. Vegetables like roasted tomatoes also work great. If you want to try it’s with cheese go for some strongly flavored cheeses.
OZV Old Vine Zinfandel (score 92)
Martinelli Vigento di Evo Zinfandel 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabs can be medium to full-bodied and have aromas and flavors of blackberry, plum, black pepper, and even leather (this will be a subtle taste in the background). Some people say Cabs are boring and only ordered by people who don’t know better or are lazy, but I am telling you right now, with its rich darkness it is an absolutely amazing wine for steak or hamburgers. I am a committed Cab Sauv fan!
Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (94,93,90 scores)

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