Big Favor ... Calling all the "Experienced" and "Professional" wine NUTS ...
I meant wine connoisseur . Let me just start out by saying I am a novice in the wine department. I just know what I like when I taste it. I like all reds. However, my wife likes white esp. chardonnays. I probably sound like a child in my likes and dislikes. LOL . And yes that is where I am at this point. This is the reason I am asking people like Jason or Bill or whoever wants to chime in if they can list the top 25... 50 ... 75 or 100 wines that "they" think I should taste and experience on my journey. I think I can get a group together so the price can range up to about $300. I have the pleasure of tasting some expensive wines, but truthfully I could not tell the difference between the $600 bottle and the $200. My go to wine are usually Chappellet, Jordan, or Caymus for a nice cab. Wife likes Conundrum.
I know there are books galore on this subject, but I thought I pick some of your tongues for info. Thanks.
No one has answered you, so I'll give it a try.
The first thing you need to do is sample a broad range of wines to figure out what you like. And you need to do this at a good wine store. I haven't been to Chicago, but using another review site one I can recommend as a place to start is Fine wine Brokers at 4621 N Lincoln Ave. You want to go for tastings. Like a dozen or more. Try as broad as range as possible and keep notes of what you like and what you don't like.
Regions I suggest include California, Oregon, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Rhone, the Loire Valley, Alsace, the many regions of Spain and Italy, Germany and Austria. From the Rhone on you will find your best values.
Hart Davis Wine Co. has a good reputation, but I don't see that they do that many tastings.
The Knightsbridge Wine Shoppe in Northbrook has a nice, broad selection like Hart Davis but they also seldom do tastings.
After you figure out what regions you like and what wines you like in those regions, others can give you recommendations.
to add to Steve's excellent advice -- look around, do some googling, and sign up for emails -- sometimes tastings aren't widely advertised, because they fill up so quickly
Also check with some of the gourmet shops around -- sometimes they'll have wine tastings or wine and cheese pairings, which would give you a chance to try two things at once (careful, though, this exhausts your palate *very* quickly)
Sometimes even better groceries will do tastings....
We used the book 'wine for dummies' as the book for the wine class I took (seems like ages ago) at Cornell. It sounds ridiculous, but it's a good place to start if the categories you're working with now are just 'red' and 'white'.
Also, I don't know where you are located (oops! I just saw it's Chicago - - maybe some wine tasting vacations are in order), but visiting wineries is also a great way to start. Often the people in the tasting room are really helpful to talk to about the different grape varietals and how the wines were made. They can pour you two different wines from the same vineyard and explain in detail what the differences in their production were. In the beginning when you're at a winery, focus on tasting the wines that are 'typical' of the region (e.g., don't focus on the riesling when you are in Oregon).
In my humble opinion, you don't need to spend so much when you are just getting started. It's better to learn a bit about a certain wine and then work up to tasting a really nice one.
Also, I will be very interested to hear what the top 25 wines for a learning journey should be, according to the true connoisseurs.
Hello Chicago Kid:
"but truthfully I could not tell the difference between the $600 bottle and the $200."
I have been tasting a long time, and I can't tell the difference. I'm not sure there are very many people who can. I know that sounds crazy, but after some tasting you will possibly agree. My advice for you is :
1. taste by grape varieties: taste some cabernets, taste some pinots, taste some malbecs, etc.
2. Taste these wines blind as often as you can. Get your wife or a friend to help you taste without any notion of what you are tasting.
3. Either cancel your subscription to the Wine Spectator, or develop enough discipline to only read it for the gossip and the news. Pay no attention to their vintage ratings nor to their individual wine ratings.
4. Whether it's WS or Parker or Tanzer or someone else, eventually you will reach a point where you don't need them, unless you are looking for a clue, and only a clue, to a wine that for some reason you can't taste yourself.
I envy you all the fun you are going to have as you discover your palate.