I actualy started a different direction - Port.
It is a dessert wine, so it is definitely sweet. The addition of brandy makes it much stronger with alcohol.
However, drink Port with some pungent cheese (any bleu variety, especially Stiliton), water crackers and some dried fruit (whole apricots or fig spread). The combination of flavors is truly an experience. The bite of the alcohol cuts the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetnees of the fruit and wine offset the cheese. I would have never thought so, but I love it. I was introduced by a waiter on a cruise to Alaska. I'm so glad he did. I have several bottles of Port, now. Go with a mid-priced ($20) Tawny Port.
I am a beginner, but luckily I have friends that know their wines. I drink red wines for the health benefits, but recently read an article on WebMD that stated any alcoholic drink with dinner is good for the health in moderation.
I liked the Barefoot Pinot Noir and it is cheap, but also agree with Apothic and that is usually around $10. If you live in a state that allows Wine shipped to you I love http://wine.woot.com. It gives you a chance to try many different types of wine and like that is a forum that allows members to talk about their experiences with each blend,
Lastly now that we buy wine and cook with wine it has opened so many new flavors and tastes, but remember to keep trying stuff it can be very much an acquired taste.
Great Jeebus i had the Yummiest wine last night!!! It was Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot. Get it, Drink it, You can thanks me later! :D
So far my favorites are Cab. Sav's, Merlot's, and i recently got a few from spain and france. best thing i can suggest is to use an App. Yes i'm gonna tech and nerd out. There is one i have that i can search for different wines and it gives me a rating out of 100 of how they are. some good others less good but how the hell am i gonna be able to tell the difference?! best suggestion is to read up on what to look for when trying them, then have the clerk at the store guide you. sometimes they know their stuff, other times they annoy the shit out of me. With your smart phone google the name and brand of wine. It wont lead you a stray