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A Beginner's...

A Beginner's Guide To Choosing A Wine You'll Love

So. Many. Wines. The choices can be daunting for sure, but with our easy guide to some of the most popular wines, you'll have a much better answer when the waiter asks you which wine you'd like to have alongside your dinner. 

We know we love wine, but how much else do we know about this sent-from-heaven beverage? Well, we love rosé. It’s our go-to for happy hour cocktails, and—no matter what people say—it’s not just for summer sipping. Have you tried it with Thanksgiving turkey? Yum. 

However, the seemingly endless array of selections to choose from in the wine aisle can be incredibly overwhelming, even if you are already a wine-lover. (Forget the rosé… have you looked at all the different Merlots there are out there?) Enter: the new Better Homes & Gardens Wine Club.

Better Homes & Gardens has teamed up with experts at Laithwaite’s Wine, the world’s top home delivery wine specialist, and built a wine club that you can customize to your own tastes. So if you know you don’t like Chardonnay or you really want to relive your time abroad in Italy with Italian wines, it’s got you covered.

Plus, you don’t have to spend half your rent check (or, okay, your budget for those new Coach over-the-knee boots) to join the club. Members get at least 20 percent off the retail value of each case. (Each bottle works out to be less than $13 each.) And each wine has its own tasting note, filled with info, serving tips, food pairing inspo, and more, so you can sound like a true sommelier at your next dinner party. 

So while you wait for your first case to arrive, you can start channeling your inner wine geek with our quick guide to 10 of the most popular wines.

Chardonnay

  • Pronounced: “shär-dən-ˈā”
  • Prominent Flavors: A white wine with crisp apple, pear, lemon, pineapple, jackfruit, passionfruit, peach, and fig flavors. Some variations include hints of vanilla and spices.
  • Pairs well with: Soft or semi-soft cheeses and creamy sauces, so a plate full of chicken fettucini alfredo is the perfect complement to a bottle of Chardonnay.
  • Boozy Fact: Chardonnay is the most planted white-wine grape in the world.

Riesling

  • Pronounced: “rēz-ling”
  • Prominent Flavors: A white wine with aromas of orchard fruits such as nectarine, apricot, honey-crisp apple, and pear.
  • Pairs well with: Spicy Asian cuisines, so grab a bottle for your next Chinese take-out night in.
  • Boozy Fact: Riesling is globally one of the most collectible white wines among connoisseurs.

Pinot Grigio

  • “Pronounced: “pē-nō grē-jē-ō”
  • Prominent Flavors: Prepare for crisp fruit flavors in this white wine, like apple and pear, resulting in a light, dry, and refreshing taste
  • Pairs well with: Any type of seafood. Grab a bottle of this and some crab legs to cook up for your next date night in.
  • Boozy Fact: Pinot Grigio is also commonly called Pinot Gris.

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Pronounced: “sō-vēn-ˈyōn-ˈblän”
  • Prominent Flavors: This wine has notes of citrus with some specific brands incorporating spice and vanilla flavors as well.
  • Pairs well with: Vegetables and grilled chicken for a simple, delicious meal.
  • Boozy Fact: Sauvignon Blanc is often referred to as having a “grassy” taste.

Cabernet Sauvignon (a.k.a. “Cab”)

  • Pronounced: “ka-bər-ˈnā-sō-vēn-ˈyōn”
  • Prominent Flavors: Full-bodied red wine with dark-fruit flavors and hints of savory tastes from black pepper to bell pepper.
  • Pairs well with: Braised short ribs or a thick, grilled hamburger. Pro tip: Most wine experts recommend not pairing this wine with chocolate!
  • Boozy Fact: Cabernet Sauvignon was created after an accidental breeding in the 17th century in France between a red Cabernet Franc grape plant and a white Sauvignon Blanc grape plant. (We’re definitely thrilled about that mistake.)

Pinot Noir

  • Pronounced: “pē-nō nwär”
  • Prominent Flavors: Light- to medium-bodied red wine with red-fruit flavors, most commonly black cherry or tart cranberry, with hints of spices.
  • Pairs well with: Roasted mushrooms and a juicy pork tenderloin with this wine make a perfect midweek meal.
  • Boozy Fact: Pinot Noir producers do not actually refer to it as Pinot Noir, but instead they call it red Burgundy after the region where it was made in France.

Merlot

  • Pronounced: “mer-lō”
  • Prominent Flavors: Red fruits and a much softer finish than other red wines.
  • Pairs well with: Light meats such as chicken or turkey, so we have dubbed it a perfect wine to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Boozy Fact: In French, “Merlot” means “the little blackbird.”

Zinfandel

  • Pronounced: “zin-fənˌdel”
  • Prominent Flavors: A great beginner wine to start out with; the primary flavors include jam, blueberry, black pepper, cherry, plum, boysenberry, cranberry and licorice.
  • Pairs well with: Because of the slight sweetness of this red wine, it’s a stellar pairing for spiced barbecue dishes and curry. This means Indian food is a definite yes for dinner.
  • Boozy Fact: The Zinfandel grape was thought to have originated in the United States until the 1960s when it was discovered that it was actually born in Croatia.

Moscato

  • Pronounced: “masˈkädō”
  • Prominent Flavors: Moscato is known for its light-bodied, semi-sparkling sweetness made from orange blossom, honeysuckle, almonds, ginger, green grapes, and citrus tones.
  • Pairs well with: Sweet foods such as desserts, summer salads, cakes, and charcuterie plates, making it an awesome summer-evening sip.
  • Boozy Fact: Moscato is the fastest-growing wine on the American market, growing at a rate of 25 percent a year for the last three years.

Rosé

  • Pronounced: “rōz-ā”
  • Prominent Flavors: Prepare your taste buds for red fruits, flowers, citrus, and melon flavors.
  • Pairs well with: Light salads, pasta and rice dishes, and seafood, so this is a versatile choice when you aren’t sure what you’re having from the menu yet.
  • Boozy Fact: Rosé wine was introduced over 9,000 years ago and was the first wine created. Red and white wines came a few thousand years later.

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Hannah Marsh

Hannah is a Texas-born, Iowa-raised alumna of Iowa State University. When not writing trending content across several Meredith sites, she enjoys all things fitness-related, binge-watching "Whose Line is it Anyway" episodes and fully embracing her self-diagnosed peanut butter addiction.

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