Forget flaming shots, smoky single malts, and even overproof rum—the scariest of beverages is the simplest: wine. The alcohol made from moldy grapes can humble even the most ardent of drinkers. Between the unpronounceable winery names and confusing terminology it’s no mystery why you buy the same bottle over and over again. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time for you to explore the wine world beyond merlot and chardonnay. There’s a huge selection of wines from around the world, and from the top shelf to the bottom shelf quality has improved in recent years—which means no matter how much or little you spend, you are unlikely to buy something terrible.
To help you find a new favorite fall wine, we got advice from Jennifer Lowe, a wine consultant at Crush Wine Shop in Dallas, who says that finding the right bottle does take some homework. “Try as many wines as you can,” she says. “People just need to know what tastes good to them.” Not only will tasting help you figure out what flavors and grape varieties you like, but, according to Lowe, it will also make it easier for you to talk to a sommelier or a wine store salesperson. Reason enough to raise a glass.