Last week, my sweet Grandma Benita, Wine With Our Family enthusiast, called me to ask an all-important question, “What is the best red wine? I’d like to get a bottle of red for tonight.”
My first thought was to make sure that I heard correctly, for Grandma is a white wine drinker. After confirming with Grandma that she did in fact want red wine recommendations, I asked her why.
Her answer was simple: “variety.” After drinking white wines for 60-plus years, she wanted a change of pace.
Therein lies the next question. What red wine should you recommend to someone who does not drink red wine? Is there a “best” way to recommend red wine for a white wine drinker?
Should You Recommend Your Own Favorites?
To start, Grandma asked me for my favorite red wine. I told her that Zinfandel was my favorite, but that it is spicy and has notes of pepper, along with a high alcohol content. She did not think that Zinfandel would be a great first foray into the red wine world.
She then asked me for my second favorite red wine. I responded with Grenache, which we were lucky enough to experience in Provence, France’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. When I proceeded to tell Grandma that the grape is ripe with tannins and it can feel like you are chewing dirt, Grandma asked for another recommendation.
Here lies the problem of Grandma’s second question. When asking someone for that person’s personal preferences, you are receiving exactly that, one person’s preferences. Just because someone enjoys a certain varietal, favorite beer, or preferred spirit (HELLO CANADIAN MIST, SPONSORSHIP STILL PENDING 😊), that does not automatically mean that someone else will also enjoy that varietal, beer, or spirit. A more purposeful question would be “what red wine do you think I would enjoy the most?”
Use What You Know About the White Wine Drinker’s Preferences
When you are tasked to recommend red wine for a white wine drinker, it can be helpful to consider what kind of white wine that person normally prefers. Does he or she typically like oaky Chardonnays or a more mineral white wine? Is he or she more interested in dry or sweet wine? Is there a beer or cocktail the person drinks regularly?
Taking a person’s existing preferences into account can help you to find a varietal he or she is more likely to enjoy. For instance, if someone prefers sweet white wine and fruity cocktails, perhaps recommend a light, sweeter red wine like Beaujolais Nouveau.
Ultimately, every person has a slightly different palate. Tailor your suggestions to the person who has asked for help, and you’re more likely to be considered an expert recommender in the future.
Start with an Approachable Wine
When thinking about red wines there are numerous choices. But for someone who is not familiar with red varietals, it’s best to begin that person with an approachable varietal. If a person’s first experience with red wine is harsh or too intense, he or she may be reluctant to try red wine again. However, if the experience is enjoyable, the person will more likely be open to experiencing different red varietals in the future. I did not want to disappoint Grandma!
I did eventually provide Grandma with a red wine recommendation. Can you guess?
I ended up recommending that my Grandma purchase a nice……
Pinot Noir of course!
I myself am not a huge fan of Pinot Noir, as I prefer stronger and bolder flavors. But, for a non-red wine drinker, the Pinot Noir is perfect. It’s lower in alcohol than other red wines, has mild tannins, and a medium body. It’s a very approachable wine for a non-red wine drinker, and one that I thought Grandma would enjoy based on the wine she usually drinks.
What is the takeaway message after all of this? When making a recommendation, whether wine or otherwise, think about what the recipient might enjoy and not what we ourselves might enjoy.
Do you have any other suggestions regarding how to recommend red wine for a white wine drinker? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Always feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback.
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