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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 Amazon.com.
the wines  
  • Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012
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    Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012

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  • Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
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    Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

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  • Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
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    Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

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  • Au Bon Climat Chardonnay
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    Au Bon Climat Chardonnay

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  • Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2012
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    Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2012

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Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012
Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012 This special wine demonstrates the power and finesse of Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. It displays aromas of black cherry, cola, and anise. Flavors of cranberry and pomegranate are complemented by notes of dates and sweet spices. Perfectly poised fruit/acid balance make this incredibly food-versatile. It is a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken and grilled salmon, as well as almost any duck, beef or lamb preparation. Bottle Price: $30.99 Read more
This special wine demonstrates the power and finesse of Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. It displays aromas of black cherry, cola, and anise. Flavors of cranberry and pomegranate are complemented by notes of dates and sweet spices. Perfectly poised fruit/acid balance make this incredibly food-versatile. It is a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken and grilled salmon, as well as almost any duck, beef or lamb preparation.
Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 This is an amazingly rich, complex and satisfying wine filled with plush, ripe fruit and abundant spice. On the nose, enticing layers of dark cherry and blackberry combine with rich Bordeaux aromatics of sweet tobacco and cedar. Elements of chocolate and roasted coffee add a hedonistic dimension, with underlying new oak providing sweetness and elegant spice. The palate is broad and mouthfilling, with flavors of juicy, dark fruit, black currant, espresso and bittersweet chocolate. Supple, layered tannins accentuate this wine's velvety richness and weight, while carrying it through to a long, seamless finish. Bottle Price: $61.99 Read more
This is an amazingly rich, complex and satisfying wine filled with plush, ripe fruit and abundant spice. On the nose, enticing layers of dark cherry and blackberry combine with rich Bordeaux aromatics of sweet tobacco and cedar. Elements of chocolate and roasted coffee add a hedonistic dimension, with underlying new oak providing sweetness and elegant spice. The palate is broad and mouthfilling, with flavors of juicy, dark fruit, black currant, espresso and bittersweet chocolate. Supple, layered tannins accentuate this wine's velvety richness and weight, while carrying it through to a long, seamless finish.
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 A mouth full of fruit that is sweet, round and complex which is supported by nice acidity and supple ripe tannins, this Cabernet Sauvignon highlights Knights Valley's characteristically bright cherry fruit and sweet vanilla oak and pie spice aromas. Bottle Price: $29.99 Read more
A mouth full of fruit that is sweet, round and complex which is supported by nice acidity and supple ripe tannins, this Cabernet Sauvignon highlights Knights Valley's characteristically bright cherry fruit and sweet vanilla oak and pie spice aromas.
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Burgundian in sensibility but with California style is one way of describing Jim Clendenen's Chardonnays- Structure and restraint melded with bountiful opulence is another. In the glass, buttery brioche marries with tropical fruits in an irresistible elixir that will leave the bottle drained before you know it. Try it with turbot for a match of delicacy and richness. Bottle Price: $19.99 Read more
Burgundian in sensibility but with California style is one way of describing Jim Clendenen's Chardonnays- Structure and restraint melded with bountiful opulence is another. In the glass, buttery brioche marries with tropical fruits in an irresistible elixir that will leave the bottle drained before you know it. Try it with turbot for a match of delicacy and richness.
Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2012
Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2012 Rich and well -balanced. Drink or hold. Bottle Price: $69.99 Read more
Rich and well -balanced. Drink or hold.



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