Red wine can be intimidating for beginners, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of knowledge and experimentation, anyone can learn to appreciate the complexities of this delicious beverage. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started with drinking red wine.

For many people, drinking red wine can be an intimidating experience, especially for beginners who have little knowledge about the different varieties of red wine and the proper way to savor it. In this article, we’ll provide some helpful tips on how to drink red wine like a pro, including the basics of wine tasting, the right temperature and glassware, and how to pair red wine with your favorite meals. So whether you’re a newcomer to the world of red wine or simply looking to refresh your knowledge, read on to learn more about this delicious and complex beverage.

Understanding Red Wine

Before we dive into the specifics of drinking red wine, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what it is and how it’s made. Red wine is made from grapes that have been crushed and fermented with their skins on. The skins give the wine its color and tannins, which contribute to its flavor and mouthfeel.

Types of Red Wine

There are many different types of red wine, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some of the most common types include:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: A full-bodied wine with bold flavors of black currant, cedar, and tobacco.
  • Merlot: A medium-bodied wine with flavors of plum, black cherry, and chocolate.
  • Pinot Noir: A light-bodied wine with flavors of raspberry, cherry, and spice.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: A full-bodied wine with flavors of blackberry, black pepper, and smoke.

Serving Temperature

The temperature at which you serve red wine can have a big impact on its flavor. Generally, red wine should be served at room temperature, but this can vary depending on the type of wine. Full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz can be served slightly warmer, while lighter-bodied wines like Pinot Noir should be served slightly cooler.

Choosing the Right Glassware

The right glassware can make a big difference when it comes to enjoying red wine. A good wine glass should be large enough to allow for swirling the wine, which helps to release its aromas. It should also have a narrow opening, which concentrates the aromas and directs them towards your nose.

A basic understanding of red wine and its types, serving temperature, choosing the right glassware, and tasting the wine’s appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel can help beginners appreciate this complex beverage. Red wine pairs well with a wide variety of foods, and the key to a good food pairing is to choose a wine that complements the flavors of the food.

Types of Wine Glasses

There are many different types of wine glasses, but the most common type for red wine is the Bordeaux glass. This glass is tall with a wide bowl and a narrow opening. It’s designed to enhance the bold flavors and tannins of full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tasting Red Wine

Tasting red wine is a nuanced process that involves all of your senses. When tasting red wine, you should pay attention to its appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel.

A basic understanding of red wine, serving temperature, glassware, tasting, and food pairings can help beginners to learn and appreciate the complexities of this delicious beverage.


Start by examining the wine’s appearance. Hold the glass up to the light and look at its color and clarity. Red wines can range in color from deep purple to brick red, and their clarity can vary depending on how they were made.


Next, swirl the wine in the glass to release its aromas. Take a deep sniff and try to identify any scents that you can pick up. Red wines can have aromas of fruit, spice, flowers, and more.


Take a small sip of the wine and let it sit on your tongue for a few seconds. Pay attention to the flavors that you can taste. Red wines can have flavors of fruit, chocolate, tobacco, and more.


Finally, pay attention to the wine’s mouthfeel. Is it light-bodied or full-bodied? Does it have a smooth or rough texture? The mouthfeel of a wine can be just as important as its flavor.

Food Pairings

Red wine pairs well with a wide variety of foods, from steak to pizza. The key to a good food pairing is to choose a wine that complements the flavors of the food. Here are a few general guidelines:

  • Full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with red meat and strong cheeses.
  • Light-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir pair well with chicken, pork, and fish.
  • Spicy foods pair well with Syrah/Shiraz, which has flavors of black pepper and smoke.

FAQs for How to Drink Red Wine for Beginners

What type of red wine should I try first?

If you are new to drinking red wine, it is a good idea to start with a lighter wine such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. These wines have a lower tannin content, making them less bitter and easier to drink. As you become more familiar with red wine, you can start exploring bolder and more complex options such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

What temperature should red wine be served at?

The ideal temperature for serving red wine is typically between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees Celsius). This temperature range allows the wine to show its full range of flavors and aromas. It is best to store your red wine in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and to remove it from the refrigerator about 15-20 minutes before serving to let it come to room temperature.

What foods pair well with red wine?

Red wine pairs well with a variety of foods, but some classic pairings include red meat, hearty stews, roasted vegetables, and cheese. As a general rule, match the intensity of the wine with the intensity of the food. For example, a bold Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with a juicy steak, while a light Pinot Noir pairs well with roasted chicken or salmon.

Do I need to decant my red wine?

Decanting your red wine is not necessary, but it can help to aerate the wine and unlock its full flavors and aromas. Generally, younger red wines benefit from decanting more than older wines since they tend to have more tannins that can mellow out with decanting. If you are unsure whether or not to decant, a good rule of thumb is to taste the wine first and then decide if decanting is necessary based on the wine’s age and complexity.

How much red wine should I pour in a glass?

A standard serving of red wine is usually about five ounces. To properly taste and enjoy the wine, it’s important to pour just enough to fill one-third to one-half of your glass. This allows you to swirl the wine and release its aromas, as well as taste it more effectively. Remember, it’s always better to pour a smaller amount and then refill it, rather than filling your glass too full and not being able to swirl or taste the wine properly.

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