Wine has always been a popular alcoholic beverage, but new wines like rosés, vinho verdes, albariños, and more have become introduced and grown in popularity in the United States in recent years. Wine consumption seems to be going up, according to figures from the Wine Institute. In 1993, per capita, Americans drank under 1.75 gallons of wine, but in 2013, it was almost 2.85 gallons. Impact Databank also reports that the United States is the largest wine consuming nation in the world, with over 3253 cases of wine sold that year. And local wineries are also cropping up, similar to microbreweries around the United States. There are more than 7,700 wineries all across the United States and at least one in each state. If you’re a wine newbie though, how do you find varietals that you like in a liquor store or wine store? What should you look for in a wine? Why should you cultivate a taste for wine?
Why Should I Drink Wine?
For those who don’t love beer, but still want to drink socially, wine can be a good option that is often fairly inexpensive. It’s served at most restaurants and bars, so you’ll never have to worry about what you want to drink. Furthermore, being knowledgeable about wine and having a taste for it can lend you an air of sophistication and elegance. In some social circles, this can be be a mark of stature and class.
Wine — especially red wine — can also have health benefits. Research has shown that drinking a glass of red wine can improve longevity, memory, and can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke, as well as diabetes, among other advantages.
How Do I Find Wine That I Like?
One of the best ways to figure out what wine you like is to try a bunch of different kinds. There are five varietals that tend to be the most popular — chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, merlot, and pinot noir — so those might be ones to try first. These are also the most likely to turn up on the most generic of wine lists.
It’s also worth asking employees at your local wine store. They’re likely knowledgeable about the wines they carry and even if you don’t know what kind of taste you’re going for, they can suggest some wines that are good for “beginners.” Once you start drinking wine, you may be able to be more specific in your likes and dislikes — perhaps you gravitate towards drier wines, as opposed to sweet, or like a more full-bodied wine.
If you have friends (or family) who are into wines, that’s another good place to turn for suggestions. Perhaps at a dinner party or other type of get together, they’ll open a bottle you can try and see if you like, without you having to invest in a bottle of your own. And, there’s always wine of the month clubs that you can join, that will give you a variety of different wines delivered to your doorstep monthly for a fee.
What Should I Look For in Wine?
For the beginning wine drinker, price likely doesn’t matter too much, though you probably want to stick to middle-of-the-road prices in a wine store. The cheapest wine won’t give you a good first impression of how wine tastes, but you may not like the most expensive wine either, if you’ve never tried it before.
Other than that, you should be looking for what kind of wine you enjoy. Some wines tend to pair better with certain types of food (for example, red wine is often paired with red meat, whereas white wine goes well with fish or poultry).
The vintage year can also be a good thing to note, especially if you’ve heard of a particular year being a bad one for wine — it might tell you which bottles to steer clear from or which to gravitate towards.
Don’t be afraid to try new things when you go into a wine store. There are many types of wine out there, but with a little experimentation, you’ll be able to find what works for you.