Farmers grow grapes; oenologists with the aid of their cellar rats turn them into wine. Importers, wholesalers and retailers bring them to consumers. Sommeliers talk about them with their guests; writers muse over them. For some wine is a business, for others a hobby.

The range of wine styles from numerous vintages, hundreds of grape varietals in a plethora of regions and thousands of producers make understanding the subtleties an arduous, life long journey; but the infinite complexity is also its own reward, conspiring to maintain even the interest of beer drinkers.

If you're a novice, remember what Simon Woods wrote in his introduction to wine: no matter how inexperienced a taster you are, you are always right. Below are a few pointers, but in the end, buy the bottles that provide you with the greatest pleasure!