What does Gerard Basset suggest for those new to wine?
I would advise to undertake a short evening course for a few weeks to learn the basics. The Wine & Spirit Education Trust runs great courses at all levels in different parts of the world.
Don’t buy expensive wines until you have mastered a decent level in your tasting capability, as you will waste a lot of money and get little enjoyment. Instead, ask for recommendations in serious wine outlets and buy some mid-market wines, which display a very precise character of the classic grapes — sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, syrah, tempranillo, sangiovese, nebbiolo, malbec and others — or have a true regional character — bordeaux, Napa Valley, barolo, Barossa Valley and others. There are also some simple wine books that can give great guidance, and now wine courses can be found on the Internet, too.