On classical music (based on sampled instruments) I use EQ, reverb and compression.
Unfortunately it’s true that there are no out of the box solutions.
In terms of plugins, the cleanest EQ I’ve come across is the TBT Kirchhoff EQ. It’s great for acoustic instruments as it has quite amazing clarity and a lack of side effects.
Compression I use very gently, ie with low ratios, or not at all. There are lots of good compressors out there, I tend to use Fabfilter’s Pro C2, which is pretty good.
Classical music is often recorded in quite reverberant acoustics, which tends to even out the sound to some extent.
If you have close-miked sounds, then some compression and reverb can help. I use Fabfilter’s Pro-R.
In terms of presets, I use them for reverb, but not EQ and compression. There are too many variables for presets to work in those cases. For example, with compressors you have ratio, attack, release, threshold, knee settings and make up gain to adjust.
My mastering engineer uses additional EQ and compression (often multi-band) where he needs to.
The aim with classical music is to make everything sound like a unified performance, even if you’re using multiple mics or different sample libraries.
I don’t think people are being patronising or trying to exclude you from the knowledge of how things are done. There really aren’t any simple answers. The equipment and plugins used are secondary to the skills you need.
There are two main skills - hearing what needs to be done, and knowing how to fix it.
If you want to develop both of those skills in the context of general mixing, then a great place to start is Mike Senior’s book ‘Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio’.