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Red Wine: Where Do You Start?

People vary in their tastes in wine, just as with everything else. But among newcomers to wine, probably the majority start with liking sweet white. White somehow seems “safer”!

On the other hand, liking red wine seems to some people to be a more sophisticated taste. Not every newcomer likes red wine at first. So if you want to “get into” red wine, where do you start?

· Start with good quality. If you’re not used to the taste of red wine, you definitely won’t like it if it’s poor quality. It might put you off for ever! This probably means avoiding the cheaper varieties.

· Drink it with food rather than on its own – at least to start. You many enjoy a red Bordeaux or Rhone with beef or steak, and Rhone or Burgundy with game. (Unless these are accompanied by a fruit sauce such as cranberry, when a Cru Beaujolais might be better.) Pairing wine with food is very individual and you will need to experiment. This is just something to try when you start.

· For many people, new world reds are more “accessible” to start with. They are more fruity, higher in alcohol and have a sweet component. The oak makes them softer and more approachable. Some good ones to start with: California Cabernet Sauvignon; Sonoma Zinfandel; Sonoma Pinot; Feltzer wines; Australian Shiraz.

When you have developed a taste for some of these, you can graduate to some of the best old world wines. Cabernet Sauvignon – Medoc; Beaujolais – Villages; or Pinot Noir – Burgundy. You may be better leaving a wine like Chianti till you are more used to red wine. If you start with Chianti you may not like it. Many people, even serious wine buffs, regard Chianti as an acquired taste! ( But well worth acquiring.)

If you really want to “discover” red wine, keep experimenting till you find one you REALLY like. Don’t pretend, or you just won’t enjoy it.

Of course, at the end of the day, you may find you just don’t like red wine! Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. There are lots of superb white wines to enjoy, and you can spend a lifetime discovering them.

Elaine Berry is the owner of Vintage Wine Associates, a small company for those who love wine and everything to do with it. For information about all aspects of wine and a selection of unique and original wine gifts, come and join us at http://www.myvintagewine.com

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