Basic Wine Guide for Beginners

sparkling wine

Every wine is different (Photo credit:

If you are living in a wine producing country, it’s really useful to have at least a basic wine guide for your travelling adventures. About a week ago, I was in Yarra Valley with my husband and two of his friends from Malaysia who had come to Australia for a short holiday. Yarra Valley is a region in Victoria state that is famous for its food, wine and nature. So naturally, during our trip to Yarra Valley we went to visit the vineyard!

While my husband’s friends were looking at the drinks that were available at the vineyards and shops around the region, they kept asking us to guide them on the wine selection because they were looking for sweet ones only. Unfortunately, both of us have not understand the difference between the different types of wines. So we were not able to give them any recommendations.

There are generally main selection of wines – sweet/fruity and dry ones.

When I was living in Malaysia, drinking wine was a rare occasion because it is very expensive there. However, since I came to live in Australia, drinking at parties, dinners and gatherings have become normal to me. After discovering this drink better, I began to cultivate a love for sweet/fruity ones.

Although I have tasted a lot of wines, I have never took notice of the different varieties available – until I did this research out of curiosity!

So in this article, I bring to you a useful basic wine guide for dummies. This even comes with a pairing guide for you.



Chardonnay is a dry fruity wine made from chardonnay grapes. Its flavours are influenced by where it is grown and how it is made. This drink is more wider-bodied than other types of dry white wines and it has fruit flavours such as apple, lime, lemon and grapefruit. The ones that are fermented in oak will have rich honey and butter flavours.

Chardonnay is good to be taken with seafood and chicken dishes.


Riesling is a lightly sweet wine with crisp apple, pear and lime flavours. There are also dry versions of Riesling.

When it is aged, Riesling will have honey flavours and attractive oily aromas.

This pairs well with spicy food, chicken and pork. The dry versions goes well with fish, chicken and pork.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is made by grapes that produce different styles of wines. It is typically a richer in flavour and seasoned with some spices.

This drink is best taken with seafood, pasta, vegetarian dishes as well as poultry.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a dry, tart wine. This drink has grapefruit and grassy flavours.

It goes well with many dishes, including seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes.



Merlot is a dry, fruity wine. It is flavoured with plums and blackberries and sometimes with mint, liquorice, chocolate and eucalyptus flavours and aromas.

You can have Merlot with any food you like. However, it is great with red meat dishes like beef and lamb.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a dry, tart wine. It usually has blackberries, plums, black currants and cassis flavours. Those that are aged in oak will have vanilla, cedar, chocolate and coffee flavours.

This wine goes best with red meat dishes such as beef and lamb.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is dry, tart wine. It has the taste of red fruits like cherries, raspberries and strawberries. When aged, it will achieve more complex flavours, aromas and earthy notes like mushrooms and decaying leaves.

It is best taken with salmon, chicken, lamb and vegetable dishes.


Shiraz is a dry, tart wine. It is typically big, bold and spicy with jammy fruit and aromas of leather and black fruit. This is also known as Syrah in France.

Shiraz is very versatile that can be paired with a wide variety of dishes. However, it will taste especially good with grilled meats.

I guess that’s all for now. Hope you found this basic wine guide for beginners insightful. It can act as a buying guide or study guide for you to enjoy this drink even better.

Happy holidays and drink safely, everyone.


Caroline Poh

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