I can recall the single moment when I became fascinated with wine. Believe me, it wasn’t classy.

I was slouching in this $5 Goodwill velveteen swivel chair (that I’d rolled home on a skateboard) while clinching a glass of wine. A 22-year-old art school grad living in Los Angeles with a low-paying, creatively exhausting day job who was lucky enough to have been gifted a wine subscription from my dad. It was the highlight of my month: dinner with my best friend Justin and a bottle of wine. That particular night, I tasted my first-ever Côtes du Rhône and it smelled like black olives. This was the first time I can remember really tasting more than “wine” in a wine. The disarming flavor quickly turned into an obsession—the only problem was: I had no idea what to explore next.

James Ransom/Food52

How does one easily find their way into wine? Right here. Start here, with these 9 bottles.

As diverse as wine is, most wines can be categorized into 9 different styles. Once you taste an example from each of these 9 styles you’ll have a good understanding of the range of all the wines in the world. Yes, there are many nuances and subtle differences, but if you’re a beginner, the perspective is the first thing to gain before zooming in.

Consider it a homework assignment. Taste a wine from the 9 different styles over the next month and a half—and take notes.

The 9 Styles of Wine

  1. Sparkling Wine
  2. Light White Wine
  3. Full-Bodied White Wine
  4. Aromatic (Sweet) White Wine
  5. Rosé
  6. Light Red Wine
  7. Medium Red Wine
  8. Full-Bodied Red Wine
  9. Dessert Wine
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