If you ask any wine expert, they will tell you that the best way to understand wine is to taste it as much as possible. Where do you begin? Where would it end, or where would it start? In the U.S., nearly 20,000 different wines are available at any time. Even if you are a billionaire with plenty of time to spare, it’s not possible to taste everything. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide of 25 bottles to help you get started.
It’s optional to purchase all the bottles at once. One bottle per week is enough. The point is to avoid overwhelming you with technical wine geekery. Google is your best friend if you want to learn more about the origins of Portugal’s Douro Valley. This exercise will help you create a library of wine tastes you can use to try something new.
It’s better to consider this a game than a course of rigorous study. Follow the path in sequence. Each bottle is connected to the next. You accumulate experience. You don’t retire at the end. Instead, you have a lot of wine knowledge and can continue to live your life. It’s not bad at all.
Start your journey with champagne. This is the original sparkling wine. Open the NV Pol Roger Brut White Foil (59 dollars) for a benchmark. It’s a brioche-scented sparkling wine from one of the few significant houses still owned by the family.
Chardonnay, the most popular grape in the U.S., is a classic California style with its ripe fruits and spicy oak notes.
Burgundy Pinot Noir
For a definition of Pinot Noir, visit the source: Bourgogne. The 2018 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (42 dollars) shows that this grape can be intense but remain light and graceful.
Napa Valley Cabernet
Napa Valley, California’s red wine is the Cabernet. Try the 2018 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($82), full of blackberry fruit and blackcurrant.
Bordeaux is one of the world’s most famous wine regions. Take it. Cabernet and Merlot anchor the majority of Bordeaux blends. Contrary to what the region is known for, you can find excellent bottles at a reasonable price, such as the 2019 Chateau Sociando Mallet ($49), which has a tobacco scent. Try the Bordeaux first if you’re tasting the Phelps and this wine simultaneously.
You may remember the oaky taste of La Crema. Try the opposite, a crisper, lighter, almost chalky Chardonnay, such as the 2018 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin (32 dollars): the same grape but two very different styles.
California Pinot Noir
To counteract the Pinot Noir from Burgundy, try a more prosperous, fruitier version from Sonoma County in California, the premier source of Pinots. Find the 2018 Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir (41 dollars) from one of AVA’s finest vineyards.
It’s time to head to Italy and leave behind the U.S.A. and France. With its bright, tart flavor, you can only claim to know Italian wine if you’ve tasted Chianti. A quintessential example is the 2019 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico ($25).
Step up your Italian game with a bottle of Barolo. This wine is made in the Piedmont region of northern Italy from the Nebbiolo vine (and is sometimes called “the wine for kings or the king of all wines”). The 2016 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Tradizione ($62) captures the wine’s floral signature and underlying tannic strength.
Spain is Europe’s third-best source of red wines, and Rioja has been its most famous wine region. Choose a reserve produced by a traditional producer, such as the 2016 Marques de Murrieta Reserva Rioja (about $30). The oak-aged wine has hints of vanilla, spice, and nutmeg.
Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
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German Riesling Sweet and Dry
Not all Rieslings have a sweet taste! To see how sweeter Rieslings can be as vibrant as those that are dry, open two bottles of Dr. The 2019 Dr. Loosen: the 2019 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett (21 dollars), which contains a small amount of residual sugar.
Rhone Syrah & Australian Shiraz
This step is easy to do: Roast a leg of lamb first (you’ll need something hearty with these wines), and then pour a cool-climate northern Rhone Syrah, like the 2018 E. Guigal – Crozes-Hermitage Rouge ($31), alongside a fruitier, more lush Aussie Shiraz from a warm region, like the 2016 Hentley Farm Barossa Valley Shiraz (30) You can also invite some friends to the party.
All roses are the same. Light, simple summer sippers, perfect for poolside quaffing? You may be surprised. Roses from the Bandol region of France have the character and depth of fine white wines. Try the 2019 Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol Rose ($36) for yourself.