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Assembling a Starter Kit of Wines

Developing a wine collection is a little like assembling a wardrobe. You need a stash of comfortable favorites, plus a few knock-outs that’ll let you feel well-dressed for any foreseeable occasion.

Similarly, it makes practical sense to keep a stash of your favorite wines on hand. Why run to the local liquor store every time a friend drops by for a drink? But a well-stocked cellar also has a few stellar bottles that let you transform an ordinary evening into an instant celebration.

Given the wealth of top-quality wine produced worldwide, it’s easy to put together a wine cellar that gives you breadth of choice. If you’re unsure of how to start, find a trustworthy wine merchant who can provide assistance. There’s a virtually unlimited supply of taste experiences awaiting you at a well-sourced wine shop or auction house.

Your merchant will guide you to assembling mixed cases at different price points. Avoid the labels you commonly drink—the point of the exercise is to discover and diversify. Consider this an opportunity to experiment, to finesse your personal tastes, and to learn about different wine regions. By carefully assembling a broad selection of wines, you’ll eventually determine which ones you like best and which ones you want to acquire.

Here’s a sampler of diverse wines at different price points—just to get you thinking:

White Wines Under $25

White Wines $30 to $75

Red Wines Under $25

Red Wines $30 to $70

Peter D. Meltzer, Wine Spectator's auction correspondent for morethan twenty years, is the foremost authority on wine collecting. He is also the author of Keys to the Cellar: Strategies and Secrets of Wine Collecting available on

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