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While the Barterhouse seal could relieve a lot of the stress of wine selection, I also wanted to pick Brian's brain for ways to begin to expand my own knowledge of wines. Here are his suggested readings:
  • Robert Parker is the preeminent wine critic in the world. What he says often determines the wine market. Read him at ERobertParker.com or in The Wine Advocate.
  • Jancis Robinson's Saturday column in The Herald Tribune and online at JancisRobinson.com is an industry must-read.
  • The Wine Trials 2010: The World's Bestselling Guide to Inexpensive Wine by Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch.
  • To get out in the world and start sampling, visit LocalWineEvents.com, which provides information on local—and often free—wine tastings in your area.
For those looking to start their own collection, what are some things to look for? "Choose something you like!" Brian practically yells. He's emphatic about this whole happy wine-drinking thing. "Try a lot of wines and explore," he says. "Make sauce from the ones you don't like."

Brian recommends reading the wine columns in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to boost your general knowledge, but to figure out what you enjoy in wine, you'll have to open a few bottles. "Make sure the wines you're buying when you just start out are cheap enough that they're not a huge risk," he says. "The biggest mistake is to spend $100 on a bottle and then feel like it's something you're supposed to like. There's no such thing." And it's a great idea to find a reviewer whose taste you agree with and try some of the bottles he or she recommends.

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