Ten Wine Tips for Beginners

Wine should be simple. Here are some tips from Wine Enthusiast on finding great bottles on a budget, and how to kick start your education when it comes to drinking well.

1. Invest in decent stemware.  Look for glasses with medium-sized bowls, which are versatile enough for all wines, and thin rims, which always make wine taste better. Hand washing will keep them looking their best, but if the stems are dishwasher safe, use only the top rack.

2. Get these must-have wine tools. Keep gel-filled wine sleeves in your freezer to quickly chill or keep bottles cool. Find a comfortable wine opener, whether it’s a small waiter’s friend, or an easy-to-use lever-style corkscrew. Finally, get some non-drip pourers to eliminate spillage concerns.

3. Select house wines to keep on hand. House wines should not be expensive—you should feel as comfortable opening a bottle for Tuesday night takeout as for company on Saturday night.

4. Keep your wine comfortable. The worst place to store wine is on top of the refrigerator, where heat and vibrations can wreak havoc. If space allows, put a rack in a room without direct sunlight. If your new abode is too tiny, store wine in the coolest and darkest part of your apartment—a closet.

5. Take a cue from college and take notes or just use an app. When you find a wine you simply adore, jot down the details in a wine journal, spiral notebook or smartphone. Note the producer, vintage, wine name, purchase price, aroma and flavors, and your overall impression (“it was rich and lemony, and went really well with grilled chicken Caesar salad.”) Apps such as Vivino and Delectable can help you find new wines to try based on type and price. These apps can also help you keep track of your favorites.

6. Become friends with the clerks at your local wine store. Add yourself to the store’s email list to stay informed about in-store events and sales. Attend free tastings to “try before you buy.” Ask for bargain wine suggestions—clerks are happy to share great finds. Finally, take advantage of frequent shopper or case discounts to build your wine collection.

7. Find great wine on the cheap. There is no shortage of wines costing upwards of $100. Much more satisfying to new grads on a budget is finding inexpensive bottles that taste anything but…