Red Wine for White Wine Drinkers

By Kori ~ March 24th, 2010.

Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is in its fifth year. Our host this month for WBW #67 is Joe Roberts of 1WineDude. Joe selected Seeing Red for the First Time as the theme and asked us to “pick a red wine that you would use to introduce a white wine drinker to red wines for the first time.” This topic is one that I have wanted to write about as I’m often asked by white wine drinkers where they should start in exploring red wines.

White wine drinker: I’d like to try some red wines. Are there sweet red wines?

Wine Peeps: Red wines generally are not sweet. However, some have less tannins than others and, therefore, seem softer and more approachable.

White wine drinker: I’ve been told I should try Pinot Noir or Merlot, but I didn’t like either of those. What else do you recommend?

Wine Peeps: For starters, I’d recommend you try a rosé wine made from a red variety. A dry or off-dry rosé will serve as a good transition from whites to reds. As a next step, I’d suggest you try Sangiovese (Chianti is predominately made from Sangiovese grapes).

White wine drinker: What reds should I avoid?

Wine Peeps: Until you get accustomed to drinking more red wines and more dry wines, I would stay away from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah because they tend to be bigger, bolder, more tannic wines.

White wine drinker: Thanks. But are you sure there aren’t any sweet reds you could recommend?

Wine Peeps: Well, if you like sparkling wines, a red sparkling wine from Italy that you might like is Brachetto d’Acqui. It is quite sweet and very yummy, great before or after dinner.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, here are three red wines that I’d suggest white wine drinkers try. Some of these may not be the vintage currently available in stores, but they are the ones I had in my cellar. I have found all three of these to be fairly consistent from vintage to vintage so you should feel comfortable trying the current vintage.

2008 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese (Columbia Valley, Washington): Bright, hot pink color. Very aromatic with strawberry, mint, and floral aromas. Smooth and crisp with lots of bright strawberry flavors. Long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $11; Available elsewhere, $12 to $18

2006 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva (Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva, Italy): 90% Sangiovese and complementary grapes (Malvasia Nera, Colorino, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon). Ruby red in color and very aromatic. Red Vines, fresh red fruit, and cinnamon come through on the nose; more red fruit, leather, and black plum on the palate. Medium-bodied and lively with medium tannins and a long finish. Well-balanced and smooth.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $19; Available elsewhere, $16 to $31

2005 Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui (Piedmont, Italy): Bright red with aromas of rhubarb pie and red fruit flavors. Tastes like a red Moscato d’Asti. Easy drinking, very pleasant, and sweet but not sickeningly sweet.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Sam’s Club (Seattle, Washington), $15.99; Available elsewhere, $19

Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Italian Wine, Lesser Known Varietals, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Sangiovese, Sparkling Wine, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Golly | March 29th, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Gamay is also worth a try. OI’m not sure how Beaujolais is priced there, but it’s a nice intro to red wines for the wary.

  2. Anne Marie | March 30th, 2010 at 11:38 am

    If you want to try a sweet red try Oriel’s Courant syrah. I have always drank white wines, never been a fan of red but a friend of mine had a bottle of this at her house. I loved it! It was sweet and delicious! and it’s only $15! I just bought my first case online at

  3. Kori | April 1st, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Gamay is a great suggestion. Thanks for sharing.

    Anne Marie,
    Thanks for sharing your red wine selection from the perspective of a white wine drinker. Cheers!

  4. Wes | April 6th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I really like the idea of doing a red sparkling wine. Thanks for the thoughts Kori.

  5. Kori | April 8th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Happy to help. Cheers!