Wine 101

Choosing Wine

Pick the right bottle like an expert―even if you’re faking it.

Bottles of wineJames Merrell


In the Wine Store

It’s always a good idea to find a knowledgeable sales clerk, who will be all too happy to make recommendations within your price range. Narrow down your options even further by following these guidelines.


  • Trial and error works. All varieties taste like wine, but each is distinct. Sample a few different inexpensive bottles of each of the Basic Wine Varieties in order to zero in on the grapes you like.
  • Pick a brand you’ve heard of. Best-sellers in the wine world (like Robert Mondavi, Kendall-Jackson, and Beringer) are popular for a reason: They consistently offer good value for the money.
  • Don’t pick based on price. Don’t assume that a $20 bottle is twice as good as a $10 one. As with other expensive foods and drinks (like caviar and exotic cheeses), high-priced wines may take you into acquired-taste territory. For something that will be universally appealing, stick with lower-priced bottles.

For recommendations, along with expert advice on how to remember different wines, check out How Memorable Are Graphic Wine Labels?


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Quick Tip

2007 Jargon Pinot Noir

Red wines are best served at 58° F to 68° F, so pop them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before sipping. Get more tips.