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Our 2021 wine guide to get you started


Is your memory as unreliable as ours? We’ve crafted this simple beginner’s wine guide for anyone who needs to immediately sound like a wine pro. 

Special thanks to Amy White and Darren Davis from David & White and Aramis Vineyards for this guide.

Read the show notes.

What are the different types of wine?

Being able to identify the different types of wine is a useful start to your wine journey. In a restaurant menu, you should hopefully expect the lighter wines are at the top of the menu, and become fuller bodied wines like chardonnay. 

As a general guide (in order of lightness > fuller bodied): 

Some of the more popular whites

  • Pinot Grigio – fruitier flavour, more richness of the palate
  • Riesling – aromatic, fruity and slightly sweet wine
  • Sauvignon blanc – crisp, acidic refreshing
  • Chardonnay – fuller bodied, richer in the mouth, generally drier,

Some of the more popular reds

  • Pinot noir – bright acidity, silky tannins often with a complex berry flavour
  • Grenache – a well-balanced wine with medium acidity 
  • Shiraz – ranging from medium to full bodied, with firm tannins
  • Cabernet – a dry red with a strong flavour
  • Malbec – another dry red known for being very heavy

How to look like a wine pro in front of colleagues

  • Research the restaurant wine list before going to the restaurant 
  • Practice verbalising the smell and flavour of every wine you drink
  • Go to more wine events (and even invite clients and friends)

‘People pleasing wines’ that are good to order for groups or presents (while making you sound like a sophisticated sommelier):

Red wine:

  • Tempranillo – a Spanish variety. It’s medium bodied, it’s not too heavy, not too light

White wine: 

  • Fiano – Italian variety. Every time you taste it, it tastes different. There is very little food wise that wouldn’t pair well with a Fiano 

Entry level wines

Red wine:

  • Barbera – Italian variety. Very smooth, not heavy on tannin, little acidity, fruity. 

Major differences between red wine, white wine and rose

Amy’s key advice: drink what you enjoy, and not what others tell you to enjoy! There are always exceptions to the rules in this guide, so do what makes you happy.

  • Red wine is considered ‘healthier’
  • Red wine has tannins
  • As red wine is tannic, it is good to balance with food
  • White wines and roses are typically preferred for hot weather
  • Red wines tend to be warmer, so better for colder weather
  • White wine may be good for white meats
  • Red wine may be good for hearty, meatier dishes 
  • Rosé is like the meeting point between red and white wine
  • Rose is a lighter and more refreshing wine can be great with seafood and shellfish 

Tannin: the grape structural element of a wine. It provides the ‘drying element’ to a wine. If you drink something with food, having tannins will balance it out.

Natural wine: Rarely any additives to wine. As a result they do not last long compared to other wines. 

Riesling, Pinot, Cabernet – What’s the difference between each?

In a restaurant menu, you should hopefully expect the lighter wines are at the top of the menu, and become fuller bodied wines like chardonnay. 

As a general guide (in order of lightness > fuller bodied): 


Sauvignon blanc – crisp, acidic refreshing

Pinot Grigio – fruitier flavour, more richness of the pallet 

Chardonnay – fuller bodied, richer in the mouth, generally drier, mov

Fuller body like chardonnay 


Pinot noir





Restaurant hacks

  • Be weary if someone pours you a bottle that has been opened for some time already
  • Most restaurants should allow you to taste wine
  • When in doubt, screw cap wines may have less faults than cork wines. The cork will not improve it, but it will add risk (unless you’re drinking a highly expensive wine with a lot of age to it) 

Tips for buying wine as a present

  • If you don’t know much about them, champagnes, ports and whiskeys can be safe gifts
  • If you know they like light wines or more full bodied wines, refer to the guide above
  • It’s safest to buy something that’s well known. Don’t make it too obscure – a big, prestigious brand would be memorable.


All wine needs at all times is a stable temperature. It will be easier if you put it in a fridge. Make sure to put some kind of covering on it to prevent unnecessary spoilage. Or you can just drink the wine. 

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