It’s a topic that never gets old, even if the writer addressing it does: how to transform someone who doesn’t drink much wine into a wine lover.
Hey, it’s all part of being a good friend. You know how much more enjoyable a meal can be when there’s a food-friendly bottle of wine on the table. You also know that culinary memories can be created when the wine truly complements the food… and vice versa. So why wouldn’t you want your BFF to enjoy the experience with you?
But wine can be an acquired taste for some. And if their first wine experience was with a big, bold, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon, getting them to give the glorious gift of the grape another try could be an uphill battle.
That’s why you need to (almost literally) lead them by the hand, introducing them to certain types of wine in a very specific order.
If they’re already drinking White Zinfandel on occasion – and there’s nothing wrong with that – they probably have a sweet tooth… as most of us do. In weaning them off White Zin and getting them to experience something a bit more complex, a good “starter wine” would be an off-dry (or semi-sweet) Riesling.
Once they can identify some of the flavors of the Riesling variety, move on to a completely dry rendition. This will help them understand that a wine can taste sweet (via its fruit flavors) without actually being sweet.
From there, an ever-so-slightly sweet Chardonnay – the type that Kendall Jackson makes – would be a logical next step. Follow that up with a rich, buttery, completely dry Chardonnay.
After they’ve been drinking Chardonnay for a few months, it’ll be time to take the big step: introducing them to red wine. Start with a lighter red, such as an Italian Chianti or a California Merlot. Next, have them try a fruit-forward Zinfandel or a silky-smooth Pinot Noir.
Once they’ve gained an appreciation for those varieties – and only then – open up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Pour it alongside a thick, juicy steak, and then look for a light bulb to appear above their head.
Just as we don’t jump from simple addition to quantum physics, a newcomer to wine should not be expected to be a Cabernet Sauvignon lover right off the bat.
It can happen, but it’s rare.