There is a lot of good advice in this thread. I especially agree with the advice to seek out lesser known wine regions. One thing to keep in mind is that there has been a quiet wine revolution over the last 20 years or so that has seen quality improve almost everywhere. Also (IMHO) the quality jump between a $1.99 bottle and a $8 bottle is usually far greater than the quality jump from a $8 bottle to a $200 bottle. Cote du Rhone and Beaujolais and Languedoc are generally affordable and good for someone just setting out to explore French reds. Spanish wines are a true value. Pinot Grigio is an easy drinking affordable Italian white. I also watch alcohol content. Back in the day, 12% was normal. These days, many producers are building monster wines of 13.5 or 14% or even higher. Not my style. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to what you like and can afford. I think I must be dyslexic, because I can hardly tell the difference between the words "snob" and "bore".