If you’re a gentleman planning a romantic date out on the town — but are feeling a bit leery about the vast varieties of wines sure to be on the bar menu — and you want to step up your expertise, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

Here is a simple wine guide for beginners; a guide that will help you recognize some of the most popular wines in order to make your selections much easier, assist you when choosing which ones pair best with different foods, and all around increase your wine drinking pleasure.

White Wine Guide for Beginners

White wines are often served as a stand-alone drink, with desserts, or appetizers — such as cheese — as well as providing the perfect accompaniment to salads, fish, seafood, and poultry dishes.

White wines are fermented without grape skins intact. They can vary in color, fragrance, and flavor, depending on the particular grape selection, the soil, and weather conditions from the diverse vineyard locations. The colors of white wine can range from gold, a pale shade of straw, or to a slightly yellowish green.

  • Chardonnay

The flavors of Chardonnay are a blend of green apple, pineapple, and citrus. Think slightly sweet, slightly tart, and generally crisp. However, American, rather than French, Chardonnay tends to lean toward the creamy and buttery flavors.

Chardonnay is grown throughout the world, in France, South Africa, and Australia, but it does particularly well when produced in California, Washington, and Oregon.

Try a great Chardonnay with fish or poultry dishes. American Chardonnay will pair most wonderfully with rich, creamy dishes. A creamy seafood pasta would be an excellent match for an American Chardonnay.

  • Pinot Grigio

With flavors of pear and melon, Pinot Grigio is quickly becoming one of the most popular white wine choices in the United States. Generally dry, Pinot Grigio is fairly consistent in flavor no matter where it’s grown, which has contributed to its growing popularity.

Try Pinot Grigio on its own, with a hearty salad, or a rich, creamy pasta. You can’t really go wrong with a glass of Pinot Grigio.

  • Moscato

A slightly sweeter wine, with flavors of orange and tangerine. It is derived from the muscat grape and is frequently enjoyed as a dessert wine.

Grown from Italy to Austria, this is a wine that is served great on its own, or, as some prefer, paired with a light dessert.

Try a glass of Moscato with a wonderful crème brûlée, or to mix things up with the joy of spectacular contrast, try it, instead, with spicy Thai inspired food.

  • Sauvignon Blanc

With a herbal fragrance and the subtle flavors of peach, Sauvignon originated in France but is, now, also grown in the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

It’s a popular white wine choice as a stand-alone drink or accompanied with a variety of seafood choices. Besides seafood, try Sauvignon Blanc with a plentiful cheese appetizer platter.

Cooking with White Wine

For a romantic, and memorable, night at home, here’s an easy meal you can throw together that is sure to impress your date. It’s simple and it’s delicious.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Then throw in a pound of your favorite pasta. Be sure not to overcook the pasta. While the pasta cooks: heat ¼ cup of quality extra virgin olive oil in a pan, then add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, and ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

Sauté until the garlic is golden, but be careful not to let the garlic burn. Add a teaspoon of coarse sea salt, ½ cup of your favorite white wine and 5 tablespoons of butter. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce. Then add ½ cup of freshly chopped parsley and ½ cup of parmesan cheese. Serve the pasta with a glass of your favorite white wine.

White Wine Health Benefits

Contrary to what was previously believed, recent studies have indicated that white wine may actually carry more cardiovascular benefits than red wine. It also provides antioxidants, although not as high or nearly as beneficial, as its red wine counterpart.

Red Wine Guide for Beginners

Red Wine

Red wines are often served as a stand-alone drink and accompanied by any tomato based pasta or beef.

Red wine is made from red or black grapes and is fermented with the skins still intact. They also differ widely in flavors and fragrance by grape varieties, vineyard regions, and soil and weather conditions.

Red wines vary in color. While Syrah and Cabernet are opaque by nature, as red wines age, they can become slightly orange, or brick-colored around the rim. However, a better quality wine will take years before it begins to change color.

  • Syrah

Syrah is a full-bodied wine with the essence of plum and a bit of chocolate.

With its beginnings in France, it is now also produced in Italy, Switzerland, and Australia.

Syrah is remarkable when paired with cheese, particularly Gouda, grilled burgers, and barbecued spareribs.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a dryer, full-bodied wine with spicy flavors, and it is considered to be America’s favorite red wine. From Bordeaux to California, this wine is produced for a large commercial reception.  

Try the intensity of a Cabernet Sauvignon with a quality ribeye steak.

  • Merlot

Merlot is a full-bodied wine with the essence of plum and chocolate. Its name is derived from the French word for “The Little Blackbird.” The first Merlot wine was produced in France in the 1700s.

Give a glass of Merlot a try with a freshly made pizza, or even grilled lamb chops.

  • Pinot Noir

This is a rather acidic, and popular, wine with a slightly fruity flavor. It is produced primarily in France, the United States, and in Germany.

Pinot Noir is delicious when paired with duck, beef or lamb stews, and fattier fish like salmon.

Cooking with Red Wine

For a romantic date night at home, here’s an easy recipe you can create using your favorite red wine.

Beef Stew with Red Wine

Take a chuck roast and brown it in a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil. Then, place it in a large pot with minced garlic, a chopped onion, some coarse sea salt, red pepper flakes, sliced red potatoes, a large can of solid pack tomatoes, 1 cube of butter, a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, and a generous portion of your favorite red wine.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for about 3 hours, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Serve the stew with a crusty, buttered, artisan bread, a crisp green salad, and your favorite glass of red wine.

Red Wine Health Benefits

Red wines are also filled with antioxidants and, therefore, offer tremendous health benefits when they are consumed in moderation. They are thought to be heart healthy by helping to prevent coronary artery disease.

For that romantic night out on the town, why not impress your date by coming to High Bar? We always have a great selection of wines, and cocktails, that can be paired with wonderful chef-inspired small plates.

And you’ll both be awed by our panoramic rooftop views of the New York City skyline. You’ll find us at 346 West 40th Street, at the top of the DoubleTree.

For reservations, just give us a call at 646.362.7146.