Of all alcoholic beverages (beer, coolers, mixed drinks, etc.), wine invariably tastes the “driest,” and this can understandably act as a real deterrent to newcomers.
There are two major factors which lead to this dry sensation. The first is the presence of tannins in wine.
Tannins come from grape skins, stems and seeds, as well as from wooden barrels used in fermentation and aging. The presence of tannins allows wines (predominantly red wines) to age longer. Fortunately, today’s winemakers are increasingly making low tannin wines, which are ready to drink pleasantly at a young age.
Secondly, a wine can taste dry because it has an exceptionally low sugar content (e.g. less than 4 g/L of residual sugar). However, even wines which are technically quite dry can still taste sweet if they are also quite fruity.
If you're just beginning to experiment with drinking wine, here are the best wines for new wine drinkers.
One of the most popular wines in North America, Moscatos tend to be very low in alcohol (7% to 9% ABV). It pays to bear in mind the old rule of thumb that the lower the alcohol level, the higher the residual sugar will be, as that sugar has not been converted to alcohol during the fermentation process.
Our top Moscato pick:
Jacobs Creek Moscato (approximately $14) from Australia is sweet and fruity with a hint of bubbles.
With flavours of peach, apples and pears, with tropical notes of lychee and pineapple, it is great for spritzers, as an aperitif, or with dessert.
ABV 7.5%, 74 g/L residual sugar.
These grapes make very approachable wines which are fruity but tend to be light bodied.
Our top Pinot Noir pick:
The Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Pfalz (approximately $14) from Germany is easy drinking and on the dry side, with flavours of sour and sweet cherries, raspberry, and strawberry with a hint of mushrooms.
It is light to medium in body with a smooth finish. Serve with grilled German sausages.
ABV 12.5%, 5 g/L residual sugar.
These wines from the south of Italy are highly flavourful, easy drinking, and offer great value.
Our top Negroamaro pick:
Try the Luccarelli Negroamaro (approximately $10) for its deep rich plum, blackberry and dark cherry flavours with vanilla, chocolate, and oaky notes. Smooth.
Roast spring lamb is a great match.
ABV 13.5%, 10 g/L residual sugar.
These wines are not nearly as dry as most wines made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
Our top Pinot Grigio pick:
The highly popular Montalto Pinot Grigio (approximately $14) from Sicily has fruity flavours of pears and apples with lemon and lime in the background.
Easy drinking, crisp and light bodied, it is quite versatile but steamed clams in a white wine garlic sauce makes an excellent pairing.
ABV 12.0%, 7 g/L residual sugar.