The Bluffer’s Guide to Wine
Everyone wants to impress a date, a boss, a dignitary or just their spouse with their knowledge about wine, skiing, decorating or even opera. But, what happens when you need a quick course or some fast knowledge in order to hold you own during a party, dinner or just business meeting? Well fear not and look no further as this non-wine connoisseur who does not even drink the grape, will fill you in on what you need to know about Wine, its color, how to tell the age of red, white and rose and even more just what to look for in a good wine. What about the difference between fortified and non-fortified? What about the taste? The Bluffer’s Guide to Wine will help the novice in all of us learn what really goes into making a good wine, how to understand the label and how hold you on at a party or anywhere. Tips that are quite important I will share with you. Others I will suggest you learn for yourself and remember. You might even want to create your own special card, list or simple mnemonic to remember what this book contains in order to share your newfound knowledge and expertise with others.
So, just how do you understand the label on a bottle of wine? You need to find the vintage, the grape variety, country of origin, the region it comes from and the bottling information. Now, do not think this is a walk in the vineyard. It’s not. The authors brilliantly clarify these terms what to look for and how to interpret them. Added in they explain Great Vintages of the past like those that come in pairs or some that come singly. To find out more you need to read it for yourself including a bit of history that will enlighten you even further.
Just like a mechanic who needs certain tools to repair and fix a car so does the wine taster or connoisseur as you will soon become after reading this guide to Wine. First and foremost one piece that comes with you wherever you go: Your Nose! SO, this piece of equipment is readily on hand and will not only help you distinguish certain smells and wines but they included just how valuable your taste buds are too. Next, in order to open the difficult bottle of wine you need a corkscrew. So, which should you avoid: bulbous: Russian Doll Variety, double-armed ratchet type, or the vacuum variety. What should you go for? Well sometimes simple is the best and better. Make sure it has a good wire worm screw and a firmly attached handle. The rest pages 16-17 read at your leisure. What else do you need? You should not drink from the bottle so it stands to reason it would help to have a glass because they do not affect the flavor in the way leather bottles, metal goblets or dancing slippers do. Important point: you need to and should see what you are drinking! The rest pages 17- 18. But, there is a warning for bluffers: read page 18 to learn more about glasses and which ones to look out for and which are great tasting tools. Followed by the Decanter and cellar and storage and Temperature Control.
Tasting and Drinking guess what they are totally not the same. First step: Pour out a little wine, filling the glass one quarter full and make sure you bring your mean face with you. If the wine is red tilt is or hold it against a white surface. Hold the glass firmly by the base and swirl it around clock or counter clockwise but not both at the same time. Having swirled which you do next you are ready to sniff and then and only after steps one-three can you taste. But, reading pages 26-27 will explain the proper way to taste, swirl and drink the wine followed by Wine-Speak. Everyone wants to sound like they know what they are talking about when it comes to wine or any topic. Wine Speak, Appearance or color, Smell, describing wine and understanding acidity, sweetness, dryness, balance, tannin which is a preservative substance extracted from the grape skins, pips and stems and is found mainly in red wine. Next the authors share fruit, body, general tasting notes the comments that you can make in order to take part in the conversation and sound like you know what you are talking about. Bluffers let go on because we have just touched the tip of the grapevine and there is much more to learn. Believe it or not I do not drink wine or any alcohol but I love when others at dinner parties or restaurants think they do. This book is great and will help me join in the conversation. Just might surprise everyone!
For anyone that does not know grape is made from fermented grape juice. You also need to know that only wine made from “the Muscat variety actually tastes of grapes.” Believe it or not the rest taste “winey,” but using this terminology will not give you the impression you want. So, let’s learn along with this reviewer all about grape varieties on pages 37- 51. Now, I will enlighten you as to some but definitely not all because that would ruin your fun in learning this for yourself. There are two yes, two major grape families: Vitis vinifera and Vitis labrusca. But, there are more than 5000 different wine grape varieties and you do not have to know them all. Let’s start with Red Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Savgiovese and more are included in this chapter. The authors share where they came from, where they are grown and most valuable tasting notes to follow at the end of each grape’s description. There are more reds but let’s move to White Grapes which are Albarino, you will love the delicious tasting tip for this one, followed by Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Sauvignon and many others. Wines Around the World focuses on the many different countries in the world, where the wines are produced, the wine trade and the two latitudinal bands encircling the globe. Wine I am sure you know is made naturally wherever wile, airborne yeasts come into “contact with squashed grapes converting sugar into alcohol. Believe it or not a monkey can make wine. France’s gift to wine is the tortuous concept of Terroir. The definition, where this term came from and more follows as the authors share Old World wines, the countries they originate from and their history. Beginning with Burgundy, followed by Beaujolais and Maconnais, The Rhone and areas in the South of France. The book is filled with tons of history, historical facts, interesting information about wines, the story of The Loire wines and the riverbank, which is most useful for us, bluffers to learn as well as Alsace wines. Included are the Main European contenders such as Italy and the facts revealed you just won’t believe. Believe it or not, you probably know that Italy produced more wine than any other country. But, does that mean that they are the best? Italian wine we are told is delicious but hardly any is exported and just who gets to drink it well you need to find that out for yourself. Learn about Super Tuscans, their ways, appearances, wines and their oddities. Learn about their movement and its inception in 1960 and about Chianti’s their straw-covered fiasco bottles and how they make perfect believe it or not lamp stands. Chianti’s are made primarily from Sangiovese, which is Italy’s most widely planted variety. But, there is so much more to learn like Piemonte is the home of the big, bruising Barolo wines. The other Italian regions that will help bluffers are located in the South and you need to read pages 75- 76 to learn more about Italy and pages 76-90 to learn about Greece, Portugal and Germany. So, you have a grasp on the Old World but what about the Americas and the New World. What about the USA and California wines? Wine is made in all fifty states and the history is replete in this chapter, which fills pages 91- 112 branching out to even South Africa. Of course this bluffer would be remiss if she did not mention Chile and the fact that this country is the only one that is immune to the phyllozers aphid, which feed on and destroys vine roots. More about this is included in the start of this book and Chile’s vineyards are also immune to the nasty powdery mildew. In reality or in short, Chile’s geography and climate seems great for producing healthy fruit.
What would any guide about wine be without everyone’s favorite bubbly when celebrating New Years, birthdays, special occasions and anniversaries or even attending an award’s show: Let’s talk Champagne and other Fizz. So, why is this particular wine considered for show-offs and perfect for bluffers? Starting with opening the bottle, and the history of Champagne dating back to Napoleon, the fact that it is truly and expensive” lifestyle choice.” Learn how to serve it, how it is made, proper chilling, when to serve it and the right glass, plus champagne styles, Old World Fix such as Cremant, Cava, Prosecco, Fortified Wines like Sherry, that proper wine buffs consider their appreciation for it. Salty tang of dry fino Sherry is an acquired taste, you as a bluffer must pretend you have acquired that taste if you wish to appear sophisticated. Serving it chilled with salted almonds or “slivers of Iberico ham, will enhance your credibility and much more. The authors include the derivation of the word Sherry, where it comes from, how it is pronounced and the two types of Sherry: pale: Dry styles: Fino and Manzanilla. The rest will remain a mystery to you unless you read it for yourself on pages 134- 136 where the authors pick up with a discussion of Port, followed by Madeira. Finally, get your suit, tie, proper dress ready for now it is time for Wining and Dining. Restaurants make tons of profit from wine and will mark up bottles up to 400 percent. Make sure you dress the part if you want the waiter to think you know anything about wine. Appearances matter in the world of wine. Find out more how to taste the wine, reject the wine, what you should say, what happens when the wine is corked and how to tell if it is, what you do, and how to respond. Wine and food, overindulgence health and hangovers, but before you test out what you think you learned make sure you have it under control. Go to bluffers.com and take the quiz and see if you are truly a Wine Bluffer or need a refresher course in any area. So, reread if you have to, study the glossary added at the end of this book that will help you understand the terms related to wines and use the end papers to take notes , outline each section and most of all: Enjoy the Wine: La Chaim: Drink Up, Salute, Cheers, evviva, vivas, boire and of course in good old English: bottom’s up. This is one great guide for anyone who wants to impress their friends, bosses, wives, dates, and even yourself.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer