Drinking wine has often been said to be an acquired taste. I agree one hundred percent! When I first started drinking wine, my exploits were limited to fruity wines that are normally associated with the younger drinkers. I am speaking of the easily pallatible white zinfadel. One cannot dwell on the past, but we can revel in the present and eagerly look forward to the future.
I realize there are many varieties of wines out there and this is not a comprehensive list, it will give you a basis to start your education and allow you to grow your tastes from there.
White wines in a nutshell:
White Zinfadel - Fruity and easy to drink. This is probably the easiest wine to start off with. REally more of a Rose than a white.
Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc - These are dry, slightly fruity, and sometimes carry hints of oak.
Chardonnay - Fruity with a hint of oak. Often said to have a buttery flavor.
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris - Medium to full bodied with floral overtones. Some will have a fruity taste, some will have a peppery bite.
Red wine in a nutshell:
Pinot Noir - Medium bodied, fruity, and peppery.
Syrah - Berries, cherry, chocolate, peppery.
Merlot - Medium bodied. Slight hints of fruit, floral, and peppery. Some hints if vanilla and oak.
Cabernet Savignon - Full bodied. Hints of fruit, floral, and peppery. Some will taste of oak and tobacco.
These are just the basics to get you started. Please keep in mind that there are many different varieties of wine as well as blended table wines. What may taste good to you, may not taste so well to another person. That is one reason I love wine. You drink wine with friends and can discuss what you tasted and whether you liked it or not. You may decide you prefer rose over white or red.
Some people prefer to make their own wines and some prefer to cook with wine. I prefer to drink wine while I cook! I found this website very useful in providing guidance for both making your own wine as well as using wine in your culinary exploits: homemadewine.com
Many people feel that you can only have white wine with fish and chicken and red wine with red meat. I disagree. While often times the respective wines will pair better that way, sometimes a glass of red wine tastes best with fish, and a glass of white wine with meat. Sometimes, the best way to enjoy a glass of white wine is over ice on a hot day. I like to have a glass of red every evening to calm the stresses of the day. Some people only drink when eating. The beauty of wine is that you will find your own favorities to have when and with what, and you will have fun doing it your way!
I like to find wine shops that have tastings. That is where you can find some of your best education. The person serving the wine normally has a great amount of experience and can give advice and answer questions. I find that sommolier's love wine so much that once you get engaged in a conversation, you will find that you have spent a lot of time and gained a new friend.
Another great way to learn about wines is to go to the vineyards in your area, if you are so lucky as to live in wine country, and take the tours and drink the wine while you are there. They educate you on the entire process of how wine is made, to how it is to be consumed.