Written by: Jamie

Updated: January 5, 2024

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7 Easy to Drink Red Wines for Beginners [Smooth & Fruity]

Red wine bottles on wine rack

Wine can be overwhelming and complex.

That's why if you're new to wine you're usually best to try something smooth and fruity.

There are some absolutely amazing easy to drink red wines for beginners that are big on fruity flavors and big on crowd pleasing!

But, importantly they must remain great value for money too.

So read my recommendations and get straight down to your local wine shop!

What Makes an Easy Drinking Red?

Of course everyone's palate is different but there tend to be some signature styles that make a red wine smooth. 

This is what easy drinking red wine is to me, and how I made my recommendations below.

  • Fruity - In 'the business' fruity wines are known as being 'fruit-forward'. For me, that's an essential characteristic of an easy drinking wine. Everybody loves fruit right? Fruity red wines tend to have flavors and aroma of berries, plum, and cherries. 
  • Low Tannins - Tannins are something that can take a while to appreciate in wine. That mouth drying sensation that they give is one that's sometimes off-putting to those that are new to wine. Easy drinking red wines tend to be softer with low tannins.
  • Inexpensive - An easy to drink wine is one that you can drink in front of the TV after a long day at work. These tend to be inexpensive bottles that are easily available at your local store.

The Smoothest Red Wines

These are the most easily drinkable red wines. Fruit-forward, smooth, and difficult to put down!

7. Shiraz/Syrah

For me, there's only one place to start.

My 'gateway wine' and the wine that changed my opinion on wine as a whole was Shiraz. I really enjoyed it's fruitiness and found that while it's a dry wine it still managed to seem slightly sweet due to its fruity, berry flavor.

Important Note: Shiraz and Syrah are the same wine hailing from different locations. Shiraz comes from Australia and is slightly fruitier and more approachable than Syrah, which comes form Europe.

I found that the tasting notes were easy to identify too. Drinking Shiraz was the first time I looked at the notes on a bottle and thought "Absolutely, I get it!".

It's bold, fruity, and smooth. Just the perfect introduction into wine.

The only downside here is that the big fruity flavor is something you can become accustomed to. I remember getting a bit obsessed with Shiraz wine and finding things like Pinot Noir a bit thin and unfulfilling for a while.

Recognizing Shiraz (or Syrah) wine is quite simple.

The bouquet is characterized by intense aromas of berries and cherries with hints of chocolate, spice and licorice. 

On the palate, it is warm, sumptuous, mildly tannic and full-bodied. In the mouth it is dense, but the tannins are fine-grained, and the finish of plum and spice is wonderful.

So which Shiraz would I recommend as an easy to drink, smooth red wine?

Recommendation: Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Syrah

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Syrah

Fruity, jammy and very easy to drink, this Syrah from Washington, USA is a great starting place for Syrah and wine in general.

Blackcurrant and cherries dominate with its fruity nature giving it a slight sweetness.

It pairs really well with grilled salmon, beef, and strong flavored cheese (both mature and blue).

It's also available for well under $15.


If you're looking for the fruitiest red wine possible then you're probably better off with an Australian (or other warm climate region) Shiraz. These things just scream ripe dark berries!

Try the 19 Crimes Shiraz as a starting point. It's great value for money and extremely difficult to say no to!

6. Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red grape in the world and produces a wine that dominates most wine shops. It's also the basis for many popular wine blends.

It's most people's entry point into wine drinking as it's so widely available. It's most restaurant's 'house wine' and usually the first choice on the wine list. You can't escape Cabernet Sauvignon wherever you are!

But, there's good reason for this.

Those fruity aromas of blackcurrant and black cherry are just delightful!

It's a dry wine that has medium acidity and tannin (tannin causes that dry inner cheek sensation) so it may not be the perfect entry level wine for everyone. However, the acidity and tannin make it perfect if you're having wine with food (especially rich food, strong in flavor).

Cabernet pairs well with beef stroganoff, steak, short ribs, and roasted potatoes.

So, which wine would we recommend as being a sensational smooth red wine for a beginner?

Recommendation: Apothic Cab Cabernet Sauvignon

apothic cabernet sauvignon and glass and corkscrew

Cabernet Sauvignon can be a bit too tannic for some so here's a smoother expression that's big on jammy dark fruit and vanilla.

Even though this is labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon, it contains a healthy injection of Zinfandel grapes too. The addition of Zinfandel softens those tannins and ups the fruity nature of the wine.

Expect jammy notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, and black cherry accompanied by lots of vanilla!

It's bold, simple, fruity, and very, very easy to drink.

You can learn more in my review.

Related: Keen to learn more about wine? Our beginner's guide is a great place to start!

5. Pinot Noir

If you're not a fan of the full bodied red wines like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon then Pinot Noir is an excellent example of an easy drinking, light-bodied red.

It's all about red fruit, but with more acidity, and certainly lighter than the wines we've discussed previously in this guide.

Pinot Noir is a great wine, fine, subtly charming and like few others is likely to be combined with a multitude of dishes, from a simple kebab to a refined dish of duck breast with pomegranate.

On the palate, it is generally medium-bodied, elegant, with good freshness, moderate alcohol, and silky tannins, excellent to accompany white meat roasts, but also fish fillets - and here lies its strength.

The ease with which it manages to cut through fat and create a link with many foods without covering even the most delicate flavors.

A single suggestion: choose not too elaborate or rich dishes and avoid the spice that would burn off its discreet charm.

So which Pinot Noir is the smoothest red to start with?

Recommendation: Meiomi Pinot Noir

Meiomi pinot noir in glass and bottle

If you've seen my YouTube video or read my review of Meiomi Pinot Noir you may be wondering why I'm recommending it.

It's true that it's not my favorite wine in the world, but no self respecting guide to smooth and fruity red wines would be complete without it!

This is not Pinot Noir as it's meant to be. It's slightly sweet and less less acidic than any Pinot I've had before. It's big on fruitiness and even has a note of bubble gum.

This wine is incredibly popular and I know people that love it. But, if you want a Pinot Noir that's a bit more authentic then try the Kirkland Signature Russian River Valley, it's great value.

For more great value Pinot Noir, don't miss our guide to Pinot Noir at Costco.

4. Malbec

I love Malbec for the same reasons I love Shiraz and If you're a fan of the latter then you'll love this too. It's dark, full-bodied, and fruity.

Malbec is a French variety once very common in the Bordeaux area, while today its cultivation has moved to Cahors, in France, and Argentina, where it is the most planted red vine. It also finds popularity in the Loire, with good vine extensions.

Malbec has problems with leaking, rotting, and downy mildew, as well as having no resistance to frosts. This is why it is grown more in hot climates, where these problems occur less frequently.

It also has less intense aromas compared to Merlot, another reason to replace it. In the calcareous and rocky areas of Cahors, however, on low fertile and high altitude soils, it is able to provide good results, with dense wines and very dark colors. So much so as to have been nicknamed 'black wine', with good fruity aromas and outstanding tannic structures.

Recommendation: Alamos Malbec 2020

Alamos Malbec 2020

Ripe plum, dark cherry and blackberry are on the menu here. It's medium-bodied with a long finish. Fruity deliciousness for an irresistible price of around $10!

3. Merlot

Merlot is big on black cherry flavors. It's similar in style to Cabernet Sauvignon and is often blended with it in Bordeaux.

With medium tannins and acidity and often a chocolate finish, it's a wine that many people are very fond of!

Merlot is relatively easy to grow and therefore is found around the world. From Old World bastions like France and Italy to New World regions like Argentina, Australia, and USA, Merlot comes in many styles related to its growing climate and also blending.

But, where to start with Merlot? What's an easy drinking Merlot with which to get started?

Recommendation: Dark Horse Merlot

Dark Horse Merlot 2020

Dark Horse is full on, fruit-driven Merlot. The dark berry flavors and aromas that are typical of Merlot are turned up to eleven here. Think blackberry jam with a hint of toast and spice.

California (New World) Merlots tend to come with softer tannins than colder climate Merlots and that's certainly the case here. 

When it comes to food pairings, beef and lamb dishes should go well but it's not particularly acidic so you maybe don't want to go too rich with the sauce.

Oh did I say it was cheap too? You should find Dark Horse Merlot for well under $10. It's incredibly good value and easy drinking.

2. Lambrusco

Lambrusco is a lightly sparkling red wine that originates in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

It comes in a range of styles, ranging from sweet to dry and can also be a deep purple color or light red.

Lambrusco is much lower in alcohol than the other wines on our list but remains very fruity, with a distinct berry theme to it.

It's noted for its bright acidity but tannins can range from low in the lighter bodied varieties to higher in the dark, full-bodied types.

Unsurprisingly, Lambrusco pairs best with Italian food. Mature meats, and salty cheeses go well, as do pasta dishes.

So where should you begin with Lambrusco? 

Recommendation: Molo 8 Lambrusco Mantovano

Molo 8 Lambrusco Mantovano

You don't want to go too cheap with Lambrusco as the cheaper bottles tend to be overly sweet crowd pleasers.

Molo 8 comes in at around $12 and is a great place to start. It's just off-dry and has just a hint of sweetness.

With notes of dark berries, this high acid, low alcohol, and low tannin wine has light bubbles and a juicy, sharp raspberry finish.

1. Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau is quite a unique wine. Made in France from the Gamay grape, it is made shortly after harvest and released. Instead of ageing like most wines, it is intended to be consumed straight away.

Look for it in November and be quick. It usually doesn't last long on the shelves.

So how does a wine isn't aged taste? Well, Beaujolais Nouveau is light-bodied and really juicy. 

It has aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry, and grapes. It tastes more like grapes than any other red wine. It lacks tannin too. I know some newcomers to wine don't like tannins so this is a good place to start. That's why it doesn't age well either. The lack of tannins (they provide structure for wine) means the wine just get worse after more than a few months.

Due to its light-bodied, juicy nature, it's best served chilled at 55°F (13°C). The fruit really bursts out at this temperature making it a really refreshing drink. It doesn't need aerated either. Pop and pour!

So, which Beaujolais Nouveau do I recommend? Well, like I said it's a time sensitive wine. It's the first wine of the harvest released every year. So look for it in November and don't expect it to last long. 

I've enjoyed the past few years of Beaujolais Nouveau made by Georges Duboeuf so I recommend looking out for their next release.

Recommendation: Beaujolais Nouveau Georges Duboeuf

Beaujolais Nouveau Georges Duboeuf

A lovely garnet color with small red berries on the nose. It's refreshing, fruity, and an absolute delight. Start looking for this in November and be quick! It will sell out.


To wrap things up, here's the Wine Turtle easy drinking red wine list:

  • Syrah - for big, bold fruit bombs!
  • Cabernet Sauvignon - there's a reason it's so popular. 
  • Pinot Noir - something a bit lighter. More acidic and lower alcohol than Syrah.
  • Malbec - dark fruits and a smooth chocolate-like finish. 
  • Merlot - similar to Cabernet Sauvignon but perhaps a bit fruitier and softer. 
  • Lambrusco - acidic, refreshing, and light. 
  • Beaujolais Nouveau - a juicy annual treat. 

What's your 'go-to' easy drinking red wine? Let's get the discussion started down in the comments section!

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About the Author Jamie

I'm Jamie (James to some), professional over-thinker and aspiring pun champion. I'm fluent in emoji, sarcasm, and song lyrics.

I'm a certified cork dork wine obsessive and wineturtle.com is my megaphone.

I have the WSET Level 2 (with distinction) in Wine and I'm currently enrolled in level 3. I've also co-written a book on wine.

I look for value in wine and I'm always on the look out for the next hidden gem.

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