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Jul 19, 2008 09:13 PM

I am a beginner at this so please be kind.

I am a beginner at this so please be kind.

I have decided to embark on a journey through the world of wine. I enjoy wine but seldom do I really know what I’m drinking. My first step has been to read as much as I can on the internet, shying away from the snobbery that is obvious on many sites. I plan on taking a wine class at a local wine store that will give me a base of knowledge to start with. I am about to buy a used Avanti that holds 34 bottles (although most have said that those numbers are arbitrary at best) And I have tried some new wines : A wonderful malbec from Argentina, Chardonnay from WA, red Zinfandel from California, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough NZ, Chianti Classico 2001, Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Vintage Port, Shiraz from Australia, Pinot Noir. All of these I have enjoyed and plan on buying more. I have tried some of the French classics (Bordeaux, Burgundy etc…) and have not been as interested. I plan on buying only what I like and want to share. I have always been curious about this subject and the last thing I want to do is buy something just because some says I should be liking it! All of the wines I have tried have been in the $10-20 range (NH prices!)
So here are my questions…

Are any of these wines going to improve with age (2-5 years)?

Can anyone suggest other wines that I should try seeing what I have liked?

Will a vintage chart help?

Are “new world” wines less able to get anything out of

My price range is up to about $25. Am I dreaming??!!??

I have been with Chowhound for 4-5 years now and respect this community’s opinion.

Thank you

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  1. Hi jefpen2!

    Welcome to the world of wine!

    As to your questions...

    I seriously doubt that any of the wines you have tried are going to improve with bottle age; the only one that could concievably improve is the Bordeaux, but at less than $20 NH price, that is not necessarily going to happen.

    Seeing what you have liked... I would try a Rosso di Montalcino since you liked the Chianti. I would try CA Sauvignon Blanc to see how you like it compared to NZ -- specifically I'd reccomend seeking out Mason. I would try a dry Vouvray from te Loire Valley in France and compare that to the Chenin Blanc you have had. And I would tru Cru Beaujolais (Morgon, Fleurie, Chirubles, Moulin-a-Vent, Saint-Amour, etc) -- your wine store can help you find a good producer and bottle -- it would be interesting to see your take on these relative to the Pinot Noir you tried. I would also suggestseeking out a Barbera (from Italy) both because they have upfront fruit, which you eem to enjoy, and also because I consistently find this grape from the Piedmont region of Italy to represent one of the fiest values in all of wine. Generically, I would seekout the lesser-known wines of Spain and Italy as I find those to provide the best deals in sub $20 wines.

    A vintage chart may help. Right now, the big no-no is 2002 in Spain, Italy, and Southern France, I don't think there are really any other catastrophes out there.

    With higher levels of alcohol and lower levels of acidity (as well as, often, softer tannins) new world wines, generally, do not get as much out of aging as "old world" wines, nor do they age as long. In the sub $20 category, there are very few "Old World" wines that will significantly benefit from aging right now, though.

    There are some very good wines out there for $25 and less. Especially from Italy and Spain, imo, but also from other lesser known regions -- parts of the Rhone valley in France, for example. And from CA, wines made from grapes such as Petite Sirah and Zinfandel can be quite interesting, especially for a novice (they tend to be hedonistic wines) in that price range.

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      So what is it about a wine that enables it to age and improve? What is it that costs $20+ more per bottle?

      1. re: jefpen2

        To make wine you make decisions all along the way.
        Each single decision affects costs and final product quality.
        For sarters, the grapes.

        IF you :
        a) throw away green grapes to concentrate the flavors of the remaining ones, and/or
        b) hand pick ripe bunches and throw away rotten stuff, and/or
        c) only pick those grapes from a special little parcel where you know the sun exposure, dew, moisture, wind &etc factors are optimal and/or ...

        THEN your final costs are going to be negatively affected.
        THEREFORE your final price will be higher.

        And please remember, this is only the beginning of the entire process.

    2. Jefpen, Whiner's suggestions are excellent--especially the Italian wines. I would also suggest some wines from some of Washington State's smaller producers. (You may have to spend $5.00 more.) Watch for wines from McCrea Cellars, L`Ecole, Andrew Will, Owen Roe and Thurston Wolfe. McCrea Cellars' Viognier will light up your world.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Walters

        Dude, you're throwing him in the deep end of the pool price wise... i thought he said he was trying to keep it under 25! If you can find me a bottle of Andrew Will OR L'Ecole (the semillon notwithstanding) under $25, let me know, cause I'll buy everything they've got.

        That said, I also agree with Whiner varietal wise... would be interested to hear what the SA Chenin was.

      2. Jefpen2,
        I too would like to welcome you to the glorious and fascinating world of wine. If at all possible try and find a wine shop and create a relationship with the buyers, let them know what you like, (in your case saying wines with primary fruit should give them a good ieda what you are looking for) and they can help you. There really is no better way to learn, once they get a handle on your palate they can even let you know when something you would love has just arrived, things like that....
        I am with you in that I abhor snobbery, (and I am in the wine business) don't let anyone yuck your yum, you like what you like and there is nothing wrong with that. People that try and makes others feel as if they no nothing are not really wine lovers, they love owning information that others don't and feel that their ability to retain said information makes them experts, it does not make them experts on your palate so when you think about it they know even less than you do...hope that helps a bit when you encounter snobs...which happens often in this little world of ours.
        The wines you listed are, (and I am generalizing here) are fruit forward, soft on acidity or round in the mouth without a ton of tannin so aging is not neccessary, (the reason that a lot of us have a cellar/wind fridge). Are you buying the wine fridge to keep bottles on hand or were you thinking that cellaring would improve the wines that you already like? I only ask because aging might kill what it is that you love about them...fruit. I would recommend trying to find an aged wine....a New World one, with maybe 10 years on it and see if you even like what happens, some love aged wines some hate them. The exceptions on your list are vintage port, very long life on those and NZ Sauvignon Blanc drink those now as they get rather funky with too much time in the bottle, to me they start smelling like the water after you steam veggies..blech!
        Have you played around with Spanish wines yet? They tend to be pretty forward and there are tons of values there. Just curious, what didnt you like about French wine? The reason I ask is becuase with a bit of aging those wines may really float your boat but I can see how people can find them too acidic when consumed young.
        Have fun, drink what you love and go to as many tastings as you can...maybe even start a tasting group in your area.

        5 Replies
        1. re: bubbles4me

          The acidity is what turned me off. There are so many choices that I feel intimidated. Those of us who failed french/spanish in HS are at a disadvantage! By the way, I just got the fridge today and it seems to work well there is a difference between tempeture on the top and bottom, but it's keeping between 53-60.

          1. re: jefpen2

            I love Burgundy and Bordeaux, but there's more to France than just those!

            You might try Beaujolais (not nouveau) and Côtes du Rhone as well. Also, if you give Burgundy and Bordeaux another try, if you're drinking younger wines, make sure they've gotten enough air. Pouring them into a pitcher and waiting a half hour can be the difference between an "enh" experience and a delicious wine that you don't want to stop sipping.

            1. re: jefpen2

              >> The acidity is what turned me off.

              Understood. This is precisely what turned me off in my early days. Excessive acidity may be an indication of cheap wine but generally on the average French wines will have more acidity than California wine. To test your tolerance to acidity try different red wines at different prices. For example try some full bodied Zinfandel at just below $30 (I admit I don't know about wine prices in N.H.) and if you picked right you should be pretty far from acidity. This is what happened once to me - I had artificially limited myself to wines below $20 but when I tried something outside this range I discovered the whole new world of wines.

              1. re: olasek

                Still, it is often the acidity (in a balanced wine), that makes it food-friendly. Do try your wines with food, especially from the region of origin.

                Some wines are better alone, and some work best with food.


              2. re: jefpen2

                Under no circumstances are you allowed to feel "intimidated." Always remember, that your palate is your palate. It is all about what YOU like. I'm the biggest wine snob on this board, and I respect your preferences to the max.

                You might want to talk to your shop (see mine and Bubbles4me's comments) about a few bottles, that will "improve" with age. This is highly subjective, but it's the best way to experiment, to see if you like an older wine. Fill three slots, and forget about them. Come back in a few years, and sample them. You will learn, and may find that you do like an aged wine. I love 'em, in many flavors, but my wife, less so.

                The rest of your 'fridge should hold wines for today, or tomorrow.

                Remember, practice, practice, practice.


            2. Jefpen,

              Welcome to the world of wine! May your journey be as fun as it will be rewarding . . .

              Keep in mind the world attempts to reduce everything to generalities, and there are ALWAYS exceptions. That said, it is difficult to say "this WILL (or will NOT) improve with age" without knowing the specific wines in question. However,

              -- ALL wines age. All wines change with that age. Whether or not they "improve" with that age depends upon whether you prefer the wine in its youth or with that additional age.

              -- For some wines, their "peak" of development/maturity may be considered to be reached in 25-50 years; for others, 10-15 years; for still others, 2-5, and for some, it's six months . . . it all depends upon the wine: what grapes are in the wine; where the grapes were grown; the winemaker; and the style in which the wine was produced.

              There are some "New World" wines that are capable of great development with age, and some that are not. But this is no different than wines from the "Old World," some of which are capable of great age, some of which are not.

              You are NOT dreaming.

              1. As far as I am concerned the only rule of wine is: Drink what you enjoy.

                Seeing what you say you like I would recommend you try Bogle Petite Sirah. It's a great everyday wine that costs about $12.00. It has a dark color in the glass and it is full of flavor but it is very drinkable at the same time.

                I also recommend you check out any of the books by Andrea Immer. She is a Master Sommelier who takes the snobbery out of wine. You can easily find the books at Barnes & Noble, Staples, or Amazon.