Wine can be complex, but it’s definitely simpler than people tend to think it is. Unless they do not drink alcohol or are allergic, anybody who says “I’m just not a wine person” just hasn’t had the right wine yet. For beginners, starting with a white is usually the easiest way to find the right one, and over time their tastes will develop as they become used to the flavours in the wine.
1. Understand white wine
White wine can be oaked or unoaked, in fact, oaked Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines sold on the market. Oaked wine means that the wine was in contact with oak wood during the fermentation process. This can mean it was fermented in an oak barrel, or fermented in another kind of barrel (like stainless steel) but with oak chips soaking in the barrel with the wine. Understanding some features of white wine can help you choose.
2. The usual
Knowing the popular ones can help direct your choice. The most popular white wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio tends to be named as one of the most “user friendly” wines, but all three of these can vary greatly in flavour depending on how they were prepared, and are all good choices to start with.
3. Learn to identify what you’re tasting
Wine can have many flavours. In white wine you will often taste pears and apricots, or citrus. They can also have an herbaceous flavour. Choose the flavours you like to taste, and then try to opt for wines that have those flavours. Even in searching for the same types of flavours you will likely find a wide variety of unique wines with other different features.
4. Try, try, and try again
Although the exercise is technically about finding the wine that you like best, even once you find one you like, you should still try to branch out sometimes. You never know what else you will find. And there are hundreds of thousands of different wines out there to try. So, you had better get started!
5. Let someone else decide
If you’re really starting from point zero, and you haven’t any idea what direction to go in, just take a recommendation from someone. Then, learn about the wine you just tasted (is it dry, full-bodied, oaked, and what is its flavour profile?) That will at least give you some stepping stones to go from. Someone you know will probably have a better idea of what you like in general, and may be able to better guide the choice.
6. Give it time
As white wine has so much to give in terms of different flavours and features, it just takes time to learn what all of those things mean to you. You should take note of the wines you do try, and you could even track your opinions of them and also note down their features. If you’re really on the hunt for your perfect wine, this will give you a simple chart to pull from where you can analyze your preferences based on things you have tried in the past.
7. Throw caution to the wind
On the other hand, why think too hard about it anyway? There are worse things in the world than a bad bottle of wine. Pick one at random, or base your choice off of something that doesn’t affect the flavour at all. If it isn’t good, you’ve learned the hard way not to buy that one again. If it is good, then congratulations! You found a winner.