To us, it seems much more difficult to find a good dry white wine than it is to find a good dry red wine. So, start your search with a too-expensive dry red wine. Pay at least $10 for your first bottle. Don't bother to pay as much as $20, because the chance of you being able to tell the difference is slight.
Choose your first dry red wine from a fairly long-standing wine-producing region, such as France or California. You should initially stay away from dry reds with strong flavors, such as Merlots. You should also initially avoid dry reds that may be too delicate, such as Beaujolais. Pretty much, you should begin this part of your training with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
But a red wine should taste like something. When you have both food and dry red wine in your mouth at the same time, the wine flavor should not overwhelm the food; it should somehow make the food taste better. The French achieve the same type of flavor-enhancing effect when they chew a piece of chocolate at the same time as a piece of fresh French bread. Together in the mouth, the two create a new, better flavor. The same goes for dry red wine and food.
We want something like this with our wines, but it will be less extreme. As with the bouquet, the aftertaste should be a little musty, or earthy – even peppery in some cases.
To experience a pleasant, lingering aftertaste in an economically-priced wine in the United States is a rare and wonderful thing. In France, it is more of the norm. It is more likely to happen with a red wine than with a white. Treasure it if you find it.
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