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Snooth User: Tberdelle

New to wine, looking for some advice!

Posted by Tberdelle, Dec 17, 2011.

Hello All! I am a 23 year old recent graduate who is hoping to start a small wine collection. I just purchased an 18 bottle cooler and am hoping to get some insight as to some decent value buys that I can hold on to. I enjoy sauvignon blancs, pinot noirs, cabs, chiantis and the occasional pinot grigio.  I am looking at spending about $50 a month on wine (so obviously nothing too expensive), but I was hoping that some of you enthusiasts and connosieurs could provide some input and suggestions as to some value buys I can purhcase. I am excited to learn more from this site and all of you. Thanks!


Reply by GregT, Dec 17, 2011.

Hi Tberdelle and welcome. We're all looking to learn so you're in good company.

As far as an 18 bottle cooler, that's great.  You'll probably drink up your wines pretty quickly but it's good to have a place to store your stuff where it won't get too warm.  My personal advice would be not to purchase things that you need to keep for 20 years until you figure out whether or not you even like older wine. But there's a lot of decent wine at reasonable prices.

By and large, something like Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio isn't something you'll keep for a few years.  Cab, Pinot Noir, and some Chianti, well those are different.  You're not likely to find a lot of low-end Cabs and even fewer Pinot Noirs that you'll want to keep around for a while and that are inexpensive, but you can do well with Chianti, which is essentially Sangiovese.  And if you like them, you can do well with unclassified Nebbiolo from Piedmont, with Cab Franc from the Loire, with Zin from CA, with Tempranillo from various places in Spain, with Garnacha from pretty much all over the world, and with numerous other grapes. 

You didn't say how you were going to spend your $50.  If it's on 10 bottles that's very different than one bottle.  If you're spending $50 on a single bottle, you can find a lot of wine to age. If you're spending $10, it's a different story.

For example, Malbec is a popular grape in Argentina.  There's a lot available for under $15. You're not going to keep most of those for long.  But you can buy some that ages quite well. And if you buy Malbec from elsewhere, you can find some that keep for a while.  So any advice as to a particular grape or region - I guess I'd take most of it with a grain of salt unless it's pretty specific as to what you're discussing.

Good luck in your search!

Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Dec 18, 2011.
Edited Dec 18, 2011

What's your experience about wine? That's the most important starting point.

Without experience: my only advice is to taste more different wines as u can, don't spend to much money to very expensive wines, probably you don't appreciate very complex wines without some experience, try to find some good cheap wines, u can find outhere thousands of good wines for a good price.

Try different varieties from different contry, start with "international" varieties like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir ..... Easy to find good wines, and u can try to understand how they change in different countries. If u need some advices about "what wine" here un can find everything u need.


Little Experienced: if i have 50$ dollars to spend every month i use 10$ (more or less) for a good wine to drink quickly, and 40$ (more or less) to buy some good wines to save. It's up to u choose what wines but my advice is try to find some great wines with good price and buy it. Quality before quantity. One example, Barbaresco - Produttori del Barbaresco, base wine is around 16 euros in italy, 85-87 point usually, and can be aged for 10-15 years. Reserves are form different cru of the region, 30 euro in italy, 20 years aging. Really big deal!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 20, 2011.

Well, if you keep them very long, you'll fill up your 18 bottle cooler pretty quickly, I think. 

I usually agree with GregT, but I think generally Zin is not an ager past about 5-6 years.  Oftentimes just because of the style, but I think they start to fall apart at much past that.  And you have to spend a fair bit on Pinot to get agers.  Whily you can pay much less to buy ones that drink okay young, pinot is hard to grow and vinify so values do not abound.

The best deal in age-worthy wine, IMO, is tempranillo (mostly from Rioja, Spain), but you don't have to age it too much yourself:  A gran reserva with 10 or so years age can be had for $20 or so and is good to go right now--and the winery keeps it in ideal circumstances for you and releases it with that age. 

There's also a ton of Brunello de Montalcino from the '04 and even '06 vintages, both really good ones, that can be had right now for very good prices--I just got Poggio Salvi for $16 and it's terrific.  Brunellos can't be released until 4 years after the vintage, give or take, so those 06es are pretty much the most recent good vintages that are available, and they were released when demand was still off, so you can get 'em pretty cheap, but they overshadowed the '04s and you can get those even cheaper, and they have a little more age. Brunello is a version of the sangiovese grape (see GregT's remark about chianti) and is particularly age-worthy among sangios. You can probably hang onto those 04 and 06 wines for another ten years in your cooler.

But I also worry about your tastes changing, and then you look at your precious space and dollars and say, I like something different, and I have no place to put the new stuff.  So here's what I would do for now:

Buy reasonably priced wines, say $10-20, with the bulk in the $15 and under category.  Even buy wines for less than $10--good roses from Spain like Chivite, some Cotes du Rhones, and some Petite Sirah (Bogle and McManis are highly prized on Snooth). Check the many threads here for favorite wines under $10 or $13.

Compare varietal wines from different places--cab francs from Cal, Loire, and Washington if you can get them, Bord blends from Cal, WA and (duh!) Bordeaux.  (Giacobbepavese gets first credit for that--but I have to repeat it because it's such good advice, imo.) Look for sales on wines that have been touted here, or by critics you might have some idea share your taste.  Drink them now.  For an idea of how wines age, go to tasting events offering older wines or, if you are out with friends at a restaurant with a deep wine list, share a bottle that has a little age (spending more on wine at a restaurant is often a better deal, as the markup may be less as a percentage and nearly the same in absolute dollar terms). While you wouldn't want to take a blind flyer on, say, a pricey 1982 Bordeaux, paying a little cash to go to an event or at a restaurant is part of your education and gets spread over a number of wines or a group of friends who can purchase a second, less expensive and safer bottle as well.

Carry your smart phone (the wine lover's friend) and, when you see a wine discounted, look it up. But don't always rely on critics--check back on here, or find a few folks you can follow on other wine sites.

Don't (at least right away) buy a lot of wines that really need time because, well, what are you going to drink now?  I have a problem that almost everything in my cellar hasn't even hit its prime drinking window.  (Sites with cellar tracking functions have windows that are pretty decent, if wide, estimates.)  Thank goodness for those Riojas and all the good wine that doesn't need to be aged--I can keep my hands off the cellar picks pretty well.

With any luck, by the time your knowledge has expanded and your tastes clarified, you'll have a little more money and can buy those age-worthy pinots and cab/Bordo blend wines, maybe some Nebbiolo. But you will also have discovered that there are tons of really good wines that you can buy and enjoy now or at least soon, and that won't take up what will be precious space in the long-term storage area. Believe me, if the bug gets you now, it won't be long until you are asking about larger wine storage units, not what to put in them!

And, any time you find a wine and want to know what people here think, post a note and I guarantee you'll have responses in no time--some just wanting to know if you drank it yet and how it was!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 20, 2011.

Oh, one last thing:  Find a good local wine store and patronize it!  Good wine stores are fonts of wisdom, but, more importantly, they want you to like their recommendations so you come back again and again--their interest is aligned with yours.  They don't cost more generally for the quality and they carry stuff that is made to last, not be drunk right away, like a grocery store.  If a store is snobby, walk away--and don't be afraid to ask questions, set limits (how much you can spend on a bottle, kinds of wine you don't like), and give them feedback on wines you bought from them before--even (esp?) wines you didn't like.  The store will reflect (esp if it is smaller) the tastes of the owner and key employees, so it's possible that some shops won't work for you, but anyone who opens a shop should be able to figure out what you like or might like based on what you have enjoyed before.

Enjoy, that's the word!

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