Wine 101: The Best Wine Varieties for Non-Wine Drinkers

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Do you dislike the taste of wine? You’re not alone. My Mom absolutely loves wine, and I naively assumed I would too – but that was not the case when I first started trying wine! In fact, I hated it all so much that I thought I would NEVER be a wine fan. Luckily, I stuck with it and continued experimenting, taking friends’ recommendations, and simply going out to wineries for tastings.

image of Wine bar area in Mizuna
Wine bar area in Mizuna – another great place to try wine in Spokane!

If you think you don’t like wine but want to learn to like, if not love, it, it is possible to find a great wine for your palate! I’ll explore some of the best wines for those who don’t normally enjoy drinking it. If you want to get “more into” wine but don’t know where to start, this guide will get you started off on the right foot.

For the longest time, I thought I didn’t like wine, considering myself more a cocktail or even beer gal. That changed when I expanded my palate – and here’s what I learned is the best wine for people who don’t like wine.

Should You Start with White or Red Wine If You Don’t Like Wine?

If you don’t usually like the taste of wine, it can be difficult to decide which one to try first. Generally speaking, if you want something light and sweet, white wines are a great place to start. They tend to be lighter-bodied than reds and feature subtle fruit flavors that are easy on the palate. While Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are popular choices, off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc can also have a pleasant sweetness that appeals to many people.

Washington wineries

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with more body and flavor, red wines may be your best bet. Light-bodied varieties such as Pinot Noir or Gamay Beaujolais offer juicy berry notes without intense tannins or overwhelming body. Alternatively, richer varietals like Cabernet Franc or Merlot can provide full flavors without being too heavy on the palate.

Ultimately, your decision should come down to personal preference – experiment with different styles until you find one that suits you! With so many delicious options available, you’re sure to find something that will please even the pickiest palate!

Best White Wines To Try for Beginners

If you’re just getting into wine, it can be overwhelming. There are so many varieties and styles out there! But don’t worry – I’ve got your back. I’ve rounded up the best white wines, from dry wine to sweet, for beginners to help you get started on your wine-drinking journey. If you’re a white wine drinker, or want to start with what’s typically considered the “right wine” type for beginners, this list is for you!


Personally, I consider Riesling to be an excellent gateway white wine for the non-wine drinker. It’s, in fact, a wine I’ve converted many a friend and family member to and, while they’ve since expanded their palates, Riesling is fond favorite. Specifically, you’re looking for a sweet version of Riesling (yes, you can find drier Rieslings!)

Riesling is an amazing wine for those who don’t like traditional white wines. This German classic is the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, making it a great choice for those who don’t enjoy the dryness of other whites. Riesling can range from very dry to sweet, so there’s something for everyone. It’s light-bodied yet full of flavor, boasting notes of minerals and fresh citrus that will tantalize your taste buds. Plus, it pairs perfectly with all kinds of food, making it a great option both at dinner parties and casual gatherings.

There’s a reason why so many wine gift ideas suggest the Chateau Ste Michelle and, as a Washingtonian myself, I would be remiss to leave it out! The Chateau Ste Michelle is a classic sweet Riesling that many people gravitate to, especially those who haven’t fully rounded out their white wine palate. It’s classic – sweet, but not too sweet, fresh, and goes well with many dishes. You can drink it in the spring, summer and even fall.  

If you’re looking for a Riesling that’s slightly less sweet but still refreshing and good for the not-completely-initiated wine drinker, look no further than McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Riesling. This California Riesling is crisp and refreshing, with light hints of sweetness in the honey and pineapple aromas. I’ve always enjoyed this wine when I’ve gotten it, and it’s a good next step in your quest to try wonderful wines!

Moscato d ‘Asti

Moscato d’Asti is an Italian sparkling wine that’s perfect for those who don’t like the dryness of traditional wines. This light and refreshing bubbly has a smooth and sweet flavor with notes of honey, apricot, and citrus. It’s low in alcohol content so you can indulge without feeling overly buzzed. Plus, it pairs well with desserts, making it a great choice for after-dinner drinks or special occasions.

Moscato d’Asti also has a light fizziness that makes it great for sipping on its own—just beware that one glass can easily turn into two! So if you’re looking for an enjoyable yet sophisticated drink, try out this Italian classic. I think one of the classics for Moscato d’Asti wine is Cupcake – you can buy it practically everywhere, and it’s very affordable, making it an excellent “try” wine for those people who don’t like wine!

Another great option we love is the Ruffino Moscato D’Asti, which is a little less sweet than Cupcake but still sweet and refreshing, with notes of citrus, peach and orange blossom. It’s an easy, light wine – perfect for lunch after a fun Spokane area hike!

Best Red Wines to Try for Beginners

Known as being more complex, red wine for beginners might seem intimidating. However, after I dipped my toes in the wine world with whites, I quickly realized it’s red wine that has my heart. If you’re worried red wines are too “heavy” or difficult to choose, check out my list below!

whim wine bar happy hour spokane
A wine flight at Whim Wine Bar in downtown Spokane

Note: There are some red wines that can be heavy, like Cabernet Sauvignons, but just because a wine has a reputation for being heavier doesn’t mean you should rule it out! A good friend of mine was a new wine drinker, and one of her first reds on her wine journey was a cab sauv. It happened to be a good choice for her and now it’s her favorite type of wine!

Red Blends

Red Blends are the perfect wines for red wine drinkers or for those who want to be red wine drinkers, but casually. Not only are they delicious and complex, but they also offer an unbeatable value for money! A red blend is a combination of two or more grape varieties that have been blended together to create something unique and special. Depending on the grapes used, these blends can range from smooth and fruity to bold and spicy.

No matter what kind of flavor profile you prefer, there’s a red blend out there for you! An absolute classic, a Spokane favorite (Maryhill has a tasting room at Kendall Yards!) is Maryhill Winemaker’s Red Columbia Valley. You’ll notice a lot of reviews describe this wine as a “house red” or “table wine” and that’s what makes it perfect for a wine beginner! For reds, you want something that offers a balance of flavors and aromas, a wine that goes well with most any meal. If you’re like many new wine drinkers, you’re not necessarily at the pairing stage, which means a red blend like this goes with practically anything – don’t worry about having to make a whole new meal with this red!

Another fantastic option is Arbor Crest’s Dionysus Columbia Valley. I had the opportunity to try this wine at Arbor Crest itself, which may have made it taste even better, but it’s definitely a wine worth splurging for. Even though the price is a little higher than most wines recommended on this list, Arbor Crest’s Dionysus is still one of the best red wine options for those who don’t like wine. It’s a mix of Cab Sauv, Merlot (another gateway red itself!), Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, with aromas of maple sugar and black raspberry. As one reviewer mentioned, it’s a “Saturday night bottle of wine!”

So if you’re looking for something new to try or just want to explore the world of wine, why not give Red Blends a go? With their wonderful flavor profiles, impressive complexity, and affordability, these wines make a great choice for any occasion—from casual dinners to special celebrations!


Lambrusco is a great option for those who don’t usually like wine! This delightful Italian red wine has a slightly sweet taste and gentle fizz that makes it easy to enjoy. Its aroma of cherries and dark berries will make it hard not to love, even if you’ve had bad experiences with other wines in the past.

Lambrusco pairs perfectly with pizza, pasta, or any other classic Italian dish. It also goes great with salads or as an aperitif before dinner; its light body and low alcohol content make it the ideal accompaniment for any meal. Plus, Lambrusco is surprisingly affordable, so you won’t have to break the bank when you want to treat yourself.

So if you’re looking for a delicious and refreshing alternative to white or red wines, don’t shy away from Lambrusco! With its fruity flavor and pleasant fizz, this crowd-pleasing Italian red is sure to be a hit at your next gathering—even if your guests don’t usually like wine!

How Can I Drink Wine If I Don’t Like It?

Drinking wine can be intimidating if you don’t like it, but there are some easy tips to help ease your way into it. Start by finding a variety of wines in different styles and flavors so you can find one that appeals to you. You may find that sweet wines are more palatable than dry ones, or vice versa. Experiment with different types of white, red and rosé wines to see which ones you prefer.

You can also try adding a small amount of soda or juice to the wine before drinking it which will make the taste less overwhelming. It’s not as crazy as it sounds – the Spanish drink tinto de verano is red wine and lemon soda, and another Spanish drink called the Kalimotxo (Calimocho) is red wine and soda. Having studied abroad in Spain, I can attest these drinks are delicious and incredibly popular, particularly in the summer!

fall wedding venues in spokane, wa
Wine tasting at Arbor Crest

Finally, be sure to pair your wine with food as this can drastically enhance its flavor profile and make it easier to enjoy. Red wines typically go well with red meats, and a the lighter white wine options go well with lighter meals, or fish.

No matter how you choose to drink your wine, remember that everyone’s taste buds are different so don’t judge yourself if certain types of wine don’t appeal to you right away! With patience and experimentation, you’ll soon find the perfect bottle just for you.

More Ways to Explore Great Wine

Let’s say you’ve been exploring wines you like and you’re ready to try more, but you still don’t have a favorite winery, or you like trying a variety of certain types of wine. That’s when joining a wine club or visiting local wineries and wine bars comes in handy!

One wine club we really like is Wine Insiders – Wine Insiders is excellent for getting a variety of premium wine at affordable prices. I also love that I can switch up my order – sometimes I feel like reds, and sometimes I feel like sparkling wines, so I’ve made sure to reflect that in my order and Wine Insiders always delivers! 

Use code SPOKANE25 to get an additional 25% off your Wine Insiders wine order!

If you like to travel and want to try some wines outside the US, another fun subscription to try it National Geographic’s Wines of the World, which gets you 12 curated bottles of wine from around the world, delivered to your door every 3 months. It’s a great way to try a lot of different wines from the around the world!

If you live in Spokane and are looking for some great places to try local wine, I highly recommend:

  • Wanderlust Delicato – perfect for wine tastings and expert wine advice
  • Arbor Crest – Not only does Arbor Crest have delicious wines, they also have a fabulous location! Arbor Crest is THE place to go for dates, girls’ night out – really any time!
  • Maryhill at Kendall Yards – I’m not just recommending Maryhill because I’m a member (although I am!) I’m also recommending Maryhill for their flights. Get a variety of white and red wines on an ample and diverse tasting spread. Pair your wine tasting flight with some of their incredible appetizers (the pretzel! the flatbreads!) and you’ve got a great night!
You can’t go wrong pairing any wine with charcuterie!

What to Look for If You Don’t Like Wine – The Best Wines for People Who Don’t Like Wine

If you don’t like the taste of wine, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the enjoyment of it. There are plenty of sweeter wines that can make drinking this delicious beverage a much happier experience. By finding something with lower alcohol content and more flavor and sweetness, you can still enjoy the great taste of wine without spending forever trying to get used to its bitterness.

So, take some time to experiment and find which wines work best for your palate. Remember: there’s something for everyone out there, so grab a glass of wine, graduate from basic grape juice, and pull up one of these best white wine and best red wine options!

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