I'll second keeping some kind of notebook -- at least at first. When I first started getting into wine, I subscribed to a couple of wine magazines, and what I would do is go through the ratings in the back (not for the ratings themselves) but to gain a better idea of which producers in my price range were good. I would only buy wines in the $10-17 range so I would skim the buying guides, and when a producer would put out several bottles with good-ish ratings (88-92+ for instance), I would note the name of the winery in my notebook. After a year of doing that, it was amazing how good of a pulse I had on value wines. I can still go into most wine stores and pick out a case of solid value wines in 5-10 minutes.