Purchasing premium wine shouldn’t be a daunting task. This is why we tapped Tara Q. Thomas, Senior Editor of Wine & Spirits and author of the Idiot’s Guide to Complete Wine Basics to gauge her expertise for wines off the beaten path. She contributed this sumptuous selection.

Salon 1997 Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil, $500
“Salon makes only one wine from one grape (Chardonnay) grown in one vineyard, and it makes it very well. Gorgeous stuff.”

Chateau Haut-Brion 2007 Bordeaux Blanc, $700
“A blend of Semillon and sauvignon blanc, it’s sumptuously rich and sating-textured, a luxurious white for winter drinking and rich dishes—lobster dipped in drawn butter would not be out of line.”

Henschke 2005 Eden Valley Hill of Grace Shiraz, $550
“This is super intense, as dense in plummy flavor as it is dark in violet color. And the flavors last for eons. It’s got the stuffing to stand up to a thick-cut T-bone steak.”

Royal Tokaji 2000 Tokaji Essencia, $500/375ml
“Once known as the Wine of Kings, this Hungarian wine is made by so rich, thick and sweet it comes with its own crystal spoon for sipping. It’s dessert on its own, although a slice of pound cake or some simple, dry cookies wouldn’t be a bad accompaniment.”

Quinta do Noval 2003 Porto Vintage Nacional Port, $800
“Drinking this wine is insane, as it should really be tucked away for another 50 years. It’s delicious now, a jampot of black berry flavors, mouthcoating yet not cloying in the least. There’s not very much of it, either, as it’s based on a historical plot of vines planted on their own rootstock, rather than the rootstock that most all grapevines were switched to after a vine louse took out most of Europe’s vineyards in the late 1800s.”