Wine and Walnuts

A blog about eating, drinking, cooking and reading in the not so Deep South

“I-Don’t-Really-Drink-Wine” People: This is For YOU

Marenco Pineto Brachetto D'Acqui 2009
Marenco Pineto Brachetto D’Acqui 2009

Today I’m going to talk about a concept called “gateway wine.”  (I’m borrowing the term from my friend Benito over at Benito’s Wine Reviews.)  A gateway wine is, as Benito says, “a wine that won’t scare away newbies.”

I think of this category of wines as “baby steps” for folks do say they don’t drink wine because they can’t find one to like. People who want to enjoy wine, and even learn more about it, but don’t, because they’ve tried one or two, didn’t like them, and based on that limited experience, have determined they don’t like wine as an entire category.

If you are one of those people, I bet you I can help you find a wine to like, and the “gateway wine” is a way for you to get there.

Gateway wines are approachable and unserious, yet delicious and completely enjoyable. Highly gulpable wines you can drink and like, even if you don’t know the first thing about the winemaker or the growing conditions or viticulture or vintage charts or which kind of barrels the wine was aged in or terroir — or any of the other things that make the hearts of wine geeks everywhere sing.

Three “gateway wines” that come to mind for me are Beaujolais Nouveau, Vinho Verde, and Brachetto D’Acqui. If you started with just these three, you’d have a red, a white, and a lightly sparkling wine in your repertoire, and you could step up from there as you feel comfortable.

Brachetto D’Acqui

I recently had Brachetto D’Acqui at a wine dinner, and fell in love with it all over again.

Brachetto is the name of the grape; D’Acqui refers to the part of the Piedmont region of northwest Italy where the grapes for this particular Brachetto (see pic above) come from. Light-bodied and highly aromatic, Brachetto D’Acqui is pink to cherry red, frizzante (mildly sparkling), and has aromas of strawberries, raspberries, orange blossoms and spice.

It is a lovely, lovely dessert wine – it was paired with chocolate truffle and berries at the wine dinner where I tried it — absolute perfection. And it has a very low alcohol content, around 5.5%, making it a great aperitif that won’t leave you too buzzed.

It can have a trace of sweetness, and some examples are medium-sweet.  The version I had made me think of exactly this:  Welch’s Grape Juice with bubbles – and I liked that.  ; )

Beaujolais Nouveau

I’m sure everyone knows what Beaujolais Nouveau is, but here’s a quick refresher in case you’re totally new to wine:  BN is young, fruity red wine made from the Gamay grape, with a nice zing of acidity and no bitter tannins to turn you off.  Its light body and lack of tannins make it chillable, if you prefer, and its low price point and easy availability make it an ideal wine for newbies to seek out.

BN is made and released scant weeks after the grapes are harvested, hence the moniker “Nouveau.” It’s the first wine of the new vintage every year in France, and arrives in the States in November each year.

You can read my previous post about the 2009 Beajolais Nouveau here.

Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is from Portugal. It’s light, fresh, and effervescent — an excellent summer sipper on its own, and also pairs well with lighter seafood dishes, salads, and fruit even, all the things you like to eat in summer. It’s not at all a serious wine, but one meant to be drunk while you’re enjoying your usual summer fun.

Vinho Verde is easy to love — I’ve had people who say they don’t drink or like wine try Vinho Verde and become converts, ask me what other wines they might like, and then there they are – wine likers (not wine “lovers” just yet, but give me a little time.)

If you want to check out two inexpensive and readily available Vinho Verdes, read about Casal Garcia Vinho Verde here, or Twin Vines Vinho Verde here.

So there you have it, three approachable and loveable wines for folks who think they don’t like wine.  And for those of you in that category, if you try all three and get then get back to me, I’ll give you some more suggestions!


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About The Author

Kimberly Houston


4 Responses to ““I-Don’t-Really-Drink-Wine” People: This is For YOU”

  1. Sasha says:

    Great post! I love Brachetto and don’t drink it nearly often enough. Another option for new to wine people is Moscato d’Asti. It’s a really nice brunch/dessert option.

  2. Hey Sasha!

    I love Brachetto too and I rarely drink it — must get on that, Pronto!

    Thanks for the Moscato d’Asti suggestion — I don’t drink that nearly enough either! Maybe this Sunday for brunch . . . ; )

  3. Lisa Mattson says:

    Hi Kimberly,

    On behalf of Jordan, I wanted to thank you for the nice comment about our winery on Matt Armendariz’s blog. We learned a great deal from working with such a talented photographer those few days. I even used advice from Matt to win a food photography contest last Sunday in Seattle. And I am a videographer.

    Here’s a picture of the burger and a link to its recipe:

    Hope we can stay in touch via our Facebook page or blog.

    Lisa Mattson
    The Journey of Jordan: a wine and food video blog

  4. Alfonso says:

    one of my favorite sweet red wines, lovely people too…

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