For those who can’t think of dinner without a nice glass of red, white or rose, the thought that somebody might not like wine can be puzzling, to say the least. Immediately, your mind is racing with thoughts - “How can I change their mind? Should I break out my favorites?
What wine did I enjoy at first?”Before we get started, It’s important to note that some folks might genuinely hate all things fermented fruit and prefer to stay in the safe realms of beers and/or spirits. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, right?
However, others may just have not tried the right glass of grapes for their palate. Don’t try and force it, but if they’re willing to experiment (or, if you’re looking for personal reasons, you are) then it’s possible you might just find a new favorite bottle.
The following guide will take you through the characteristics you’re looking for in a wine for beginners or those who profess not to like it. From which types you need to aim for, to accompaniments that might help you drain your glass more easily, it covers everything you need to know to choose a bottle for your friend who claims to hate all of them.
Wine For Those Who Don’t Drink It: The Basics
So, whilst there are definitely specific kinds of wine that could be recommended for non-drinkers or newbies, there are also some generalizations that will help you find a bottle that you’ll be more likely to enjoy, say, when you’re at a restaurant and not sure what to ask for.
In those instances where you’re taking a sommelier’s recommendations, or asking a wine connoisseur friend to choose on your behalf, you want to pre-request a wine that is…
Light, Not Heavy
We’re not talking about the weight of the bottle here! Depending on the ingredients and fermentation process, some wines are a lot more full-bodied or heavier than others, with a sophisticated set of notes that new wine drinkers might find hard to swallow.
A lighter wine, therefore, can prove fresher and less overwhelming for somebody just dipping their toes in.
Sweet, Not Deep
This is, of course, not that specific - wine can be picked up in countless different flavor profiles. It’s just that, where beginners or renowned wine haters are concerned, a sweeter, less aromatic wine that isn’t as rich will often prove more popular.
This is because it’s more reminiscent of fruit juice than anything else, and usually has more sugar than a deeper wine would.
Being entirely general, then, you’re aiming for a sweet, light wine that has less tannins and fewer aromatics. So...where does that leave you? Where should you be starting off?
Red Or White - Which Is Easier To Like?
Okay, you know that you need a light, sweet wine to stand the best chance of success - does that mean you should be heading to the white or the red section of the store, menu or wine cellar? Time to compare and contrast!
Though there are definitely some outliers, white wine tends to be the sweeter, lighter option here; red wine can be sweet and fruity, yes, but it also tends to be heavier (see below) with more complex, bitter notes.
This is because red wines are more likely to have a higher amount of tannins, which are responsible for changing the wine’s flavor significantly.
Again, generally speaking, you’ll find that white wines are lighter in nature than reds, as they are only made using fruit juices; red wine, however, can contain anything from the skin to the pulp of the fruit, for the heaviness and flavor it contributes.
Whilst you’ll definitely find some lighter reds out there, which we’ll get onto in a moment, your best bet is to stick with white if you’re new to the scene or not usually a fan.
You might not know this, but red and white wine are to be stored and served entirely differently. A red wine, for example, should be left out on the counter and enjoyed at room temperature; you don’t need any tonic water, ice or lemon - just the wine, straight up, as is.
With a white wine, though, you want to keep it refrigerated or in a bucket with some ice, as it’s best enjoyed nicely chilled. Plus, if you find it a little strong and dry the way it comes, nobody will look at you like you’ve grown a second head if you add a little lemonade or a few cubes of ice, just to make things a little lighter and diluted.
Therefore, those who don’t like the sound of a lukewarm drink know to stick with light, white wines over deep, heavy red ones, at least to start with.
Best Whites For Non-Wine Drinkers
Okay, you’re following advice and starting off safe and easy with some white - good choice! Although they’re all lighter and sweeter generally, it’s still good to pick one that goes down easy and has the kind of flavor profile you’ll be looking for.
Go with the following, and you’ll probably like what you find:
The fancy lady’s wine of choice, this smooth, velvety white wine exudes the sweetness you’d expect from a white without presenting quite as dryly as some of the other light wines can.
It’s often got citrusy notes, but you might also find it in a creamy, vanilla profile that’s equally as delicious.
Another well-known white wine (try saying that after a few glasses!) is Sauvignon Blanc, usually mild and fruity in nature, with grapes accompanied by things like pear and apples to give them an extra kick.
You might also find a bright and floral Sauvignon, so if you fancy something a little more adventurous, give one of these a go.
Not as popular as the two above, but equally as worth considering by wine newbies, this bottle is often brought out with dessert, with a syrupy sweetness that beginners will find comforting.
Some are reminiscent of fruit juice, whereas others are more tart and sour - but the undertone is most definitely a sugary one.
Best Reds For Non-Wine Drinkers
If you’ve already started on the whites, or perhaps you’re feeling a little braver and want to dive straight in with the deep and dark, there are definitely some red wines that you should prioritize trying over others. Not all of them are burgundy and intimidating!
Popular for being on the lighter side of the red wine spectrum, Pinot Noir can be a fantastic starting point here, because it’s not particularly strong and stark in flavor.
It’s also not quite as thick as reds usually are, so it certainly goes down a lot smoother! Pairing perfectly with fish, it’s a dinner wine with fruity notes you’ll appreciate.
Thanks to its distinct lack of tannins in comparison to other reds, Merlot is often recommended to those new to wine, because they’re oddly sweet and on the fruitier side.
Again a great one to have with dinner, you’ll find poultry is the perfect pairing for this one, so next time you’re cooking chicken you might want to consider a bottle.
Though nowhere near as frequently recommended, Syrah is definitely a go-to in the wine world for those just getting started.
Also more commonly known as a Shriaz, it’s definitely not quite as light and sweet as a Pinot or Merlot, but for braver beginners, its slightly more robust palate could be a great introduction to the deeper shades of wine.
“What If I Just Don’t Like Wine?” - Three Hacks To Help You Enjoy A Bottle Easier
For those determined to make themselves like wine for whatever reason - hey, nobody here is judging! - it can be easy to feel defeated when the first sip is so hard to swallow.
As with all things that have an acquired taste or need a more refined palate to be appreciated, one of the easiest ways to consume it more readily is to try and enjoy it with something else you do like. For instance...
Add Ice or Lemonade - White Wine Only!
This is a big, big no-no for red wine, which should only ever be had at room temperature or even a little warmer.
However, seeing as white wine is best served chilled, adding a few ice cubes (or frozen grapes if you’d rather it doesn’t get diluted!) or even a splash of lemonade - which would technically make it a spritzer - can help you to drink it down and enjoy it more.
Accompany It With Cheese
Wine and cheese nights have long been a pastime of those who enjoy the finer, richer things in life.
This should be enough to tell you that the two together are quite a lovely combination - the saltiness of the cheese really cuts through the wine, and is ideal for working through aftertastes that you might not be particularly fond of.
Try Eating Fruit Or Sweet Desserts
Whether you’re a strawberry fan or more of a peach person, opting for some sweet and juicy fruit alongside your wine will not only bring out the fruitiness of the bottle itself, but also counterbalance some of the richer or more bitter notes you might not be enjoying.
The same can be said for most desserts, which is why the wine course tends to precede or come straight after the sweet course at fancy dinner parties!
Though there are thousands of wines out there in the world, finding one you’re more likely to enjoy is actually an easier feat than it might sound at first. Even those who’ve had several glasses of multiple kinds and still didn’t discover an affinity for it could end up changing their minds by following the above advice!
In short, a light, sweet, white wine is your best bet, especially if you pair it with some lemonade, ice, and a nice snack to enjoy at the same time. However, it’s important to experiment and try different combinations and flavor profiles, as the only way to discover what you like is by experimenting.
Eventually, you’ll be able to discover exactly which flavors, textures and aromas you’re able to stomach - even enjoy! - more than others, making the decision of what to drink at the bar or bring to your next dinner party a whole lot easier for you.
Do try and remember, though, that you might just dislike all wines as a rule. Not everybody has to like the same things, and if you find yourself hating every glass you ever pour, it might be worth investigating some other booze and figuring out what you actually want to drink.