My life with wine started in college: a case of Strawberry Hill was less than $12.
More seriously, through my quasi-grad student status in Environmental Engineering Science at Caltech as an undergrad, I had the opportunity after my 21st birthday, my senior year, to join the bar/wine team at the Athenaeum, its faculty club. This was a grand opportunity. I made drinks for Nobel Laureates, I learned that a bar stocked for British Historians needed to be differently stocked than one for Historians from Britain, and I can still make an excellent Manhattan. And I learned that the Athenaeum “Cellar Committee” knew its stuff.
Especially good were the days when I was the Wine Steward in the Dining Room in the evening. There were a number of single faculty members who always ate alone and ordered a bottle of wine. Each intended to return to work and the steward “inherited” the remainders. At this time Napa Valley was just coming onto to the world wine map and big names were Beaulieu, Louis Martini, Mirassou, and Charles Krug. I learned a tremendous amount about the pleasures of fine wine. All became reinforced by my family’s home being a short drive from Napa. (Still is: Mom and Dad live there and we (pre-)celebrated Dad’s 90th birthday on Saturday.)