Drink/ Wine

Wine Tips for Beginners

September 5, 2018

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If you are new to the world of wine, it can be a bit daunting.  All those varieties, rules, and the snobbish attitude of those in the know!  My wine tips for beginners, will give you the basic knowledge to sip with the best of them!

Two glasses of wine with bottles in the background

Break out of your wine comfort zone

I am totally guilty of reaching for the same bottle of wine, whether that’s in our local bar or when grabbing a bottle for home.  The only way you will discover more wines, is if you taste more wines!  So, rather than reaching for the same pinot or malbec, try something different!  I’d recommend either staying in the same price range or spending a couple more bucks, or try something that’s on offer.  If you find something you like, take a note, take a picture or message yourself so then you can try out similar varieties.

How to order wine with a sommelier

If you go to a restaurant that has a sommelier, don’t be intimidated – use them for all they are worth! Sommeliers go through rigorous training and they are there to help you make the best decision, not look down their nose at you!

If you usually go for a certain variety of wine, let the sommelier know so that they can chose something for you that you will like.  My main go to is ‘we’d like a bottle to accompany the whole meal, we usually drink malbec / we prefer red, something around $80 would be great’.  Always remember to give a rough price range or you could be stung for something rather expensive!!

Be open with your sommelier, and above all trust them!  These guys and girls have studied for years and want you to have the best experience!

A top shot of two glasses of wine with grapes

How to serve and store wine

There’s a few basic rules about how to serve wine that you can easily follow at home.

  • White wine should be served chilled – fridge chilled.  NEVER add ice cubes to the wine to chill it – either wait or drink red!
  • Red wine should be served at room temperature
  • Sparkling wines should be served as cold as you can get them
  • If you have a carafe to hand, always use this for red – it will help to get the oxygen in and improve the taste
  • It can get complicated with wine glasses, but generally, red should be served in larger, bowl like glasses, white in smaller, thinner glasses and sparking in flutes.

I love this post by Wine Folly, which really gets into the science of why you should use certain glasses with certain types of wine.  There’s also a handy little chart!

Should you have any wine left after entertaining, check out Honey + Lime’s awesome guide to how to store open wine, to keep it nice and fresh.

A glass of red wine and white wine side by side

You need to go wine tasting!

One of the ways I got more excited about wine was by going to wine tastings. I’d always wanted to do a wine tasting, but was afraid that I didn’t know enough about it, that I wouldn’t be able to engage.  That all changed when we stayed in Napa as part of our honeymoon.  The wineries there are so accessible, the hosts and servers are knowledgeable without looking down their noses at you.

After our too brief a stay at Napa, I found the confidence to go to more local wine tastings and engage with sommeliers with a better understanding of what I liked.  No two person is the same, we all have different tastes and preferences, so wine tasting, with several flights, is a perfect way of finding what YOU like.

Tasting Page went for a wine tasting weekend in Napa, you can read all about her time there right here.

And also worth checking out is this post from Emma Eats and Explores, who tells us all about the benefits of attending a wine course.


Do remember to check out my Red Wine guide and White Wine guide – perfect for beginners who want to know a little more!

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  • Reply
    Millie Hue
    October 12, 2018 at 1:44 am

    I appreciate that you suggested talking about the price range that you are able to pay to ensure that you will not be over your budget. I will keep that in mind since I am on a limited budget because I will be paying for everything when we eat out this coming weekend. It will be for the birthday of my husband, and he requested to have some wine served as well. So, now, I am on the hunt for the restaurant that will fit our budget. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Slow The Cook Down
      October 12, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Millie! I’m so glad that you found this helpful 🙂 Even if you go somewhere that doesn’t have a sommelier, the bar staff / servers will also be able to help you. I also have similar guides for red and white wine on the blog if you have any preference there. Hope you have a lovely evening with your husband!

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