Last week I talked about helping non-wine drinkers become wine drinkers. Today my focus is on helping white wine drinkers become red wine drinkers.
Takeaways from Last Week’s Article
In my article last week, I talked about the importance of studying the different components of wine: sight, smell, taste and feel. By studying each component, you begin to understand the complexity of wine, which leads to an appreciation of the beverage, which ultimately can lead to an enjoyment of it.
Why Is Red Wine Harder to Drink?
Most of us started our wine-drinking careers with white wine. Why? Because white wine tends to be easier to drink. It’s not bitter or astringent. It’s more likely to resemble other things we drink, like apple juice or lemonade.
Also, white wine doesn’t tend to taste as heavy in our mouths. The fullness of a red wine can be a bit overwhelming.
Many years ago, I had a roommate who told me she could only drink white wine. I asked her why. She said she didn’t like the taste of red wine. After a year of living with me, she liked red wine as much as she liked white wine. Let’s look at how to convert people like her into red wine drinkers.
Start with Low Tannin Reds
Knowing that a lot of the astringency and bitterness in red wine comes from tannins, I would start with low-tannin wines like Pinot Noir, Barbera, Gamay, and Malbec. My favorite of this list is Gamay, and my favorite Gamay for this exercise is from V. Sattui. It looks like right now the winery is only offering a Gamay Rosé, which I’m sure is great. But when they have the Gamay, it’s a real treat. The wine is incredibly fruit forward and very delicious. Kind of like adult Hawaiian Punch.
I would go back to the components of sight, smell, taste and feel, comparing the winemaker’s tasting notes to what the person is actualy tasting. I always tell people that you are not required to taste and smell everything the winemakers says you’re supposed to taste and smell. But it’s fun to learn the smell or taste of blueberry, when the winemaker talks about blueberry.
Experience the Bitterness and Astringency
After a few weeks or months on low-tannin wines, switch to higher-tannin wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But get your tasters excited about bitterness and astringency. Talk to them about tannins, highlighting their health benefits.
Make it a fun event. Get people to talk about whether their tongues stuck to the rooves of their mouths. Get them to talk about what the bitterness brought up for them. Get them to laugh!
Make sure to have a lot of great cheeses and chocolate to help people with this experience. Help them see that the wine gets softer with a nice chunk of cheese or chocolate.
Turning People into Red Wine Drinkers
I don’t think that all people will be like my roommate who slowly but surely began to love red wine. But I do think this approach will help people understand and appreciate the wine’s complexity and get them to enjoy the tasting experience. And if they’re like my roommate who now loves red wine, that’s all the better.