I’m a wine geek. Most of my friends are not. In fact, the vast majority of folks who enjoy drinking wine don’t want to put much thought into it beyond – what’s the occasion, and how much am I willing to spend for it? Wouldn’t it be nice if such folks had a handy-dandy reference guide on the best wines to buy for the money? That’s the intended purpose of the newly published “Buy The Right Wine Every Time-The No-Fuss No Vintage Wine Guide.
The book, written by Tom Stevenson, is premised on providing easy to follow guidance from a wine expert to non-experts who want to get the most satisfaction for their money, without being burdened by pretentious wine speak. In other words, it offers guidance to “Main Street” wine consumers on which wine to buy when they’re confronted by the Wall of Wine (“WOW”) at their local store. Buy The Right Wine focuses on the most widely available wines, without regard to vintage, including many of the least expensive brands habitually avoided by the main stream wine writers.
This book is for you if you drink wine, but don’t think wine
Stevenson has been writing about wine for more than 30 years, and is considered the world’s leading authority on Champagne. He has written 23 books, including Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, which is the standard reference for Masters of wine and Master Sommelier exam worldwide. He’s the winner of numerous literary awards including the Wine Literary Award, America’s only lifetime achievement award for wine writers. HIs works have published internationally by more than 50 publishers and translated into over 25 languages.
Buy The Right Wine is divided into three main sections The first is a relatively short list of “Wines by Style” (red, white, fortified, sparkling, and rosé), which are quality rated (Recommended, Highly Recommended, and To Die for) and categorized by price categories (“$; Under $10″; “$$; $10-$15”; and “$$$; over $25”). The second, and main section is “A-Z of Wines”, an alphabetical listing of wines by producer, without regard to vintage. Each wine listed in this section has a brief explanation of what the wine is, what it tastes like, recommendations for similar wines. The last section of Buy The Right wine contains what Stevenson considers to be the “The 20 Most Useful Wine Tips“.
Buy the Right wine is does a commendable job of fulfilling its promise. The book is well-organized, concise and informative. The recommendations are well thought out and offers folks who enjoy wine, but not the pretension that can go with it, a great way to hedge the bet a bottle of wine can be. The book itself is made of quality materials, and is just the right size to be a carry-alone companion while one is out and about shopping for wine.
I especially liked the recap of the wines recommended in the “A-Z” section of the book. Along with a easy to understand descriptions of what the wine is, and what it tastes like, Stevenson suggests similar wines of greater quality. This is a great way for the novice to gain confidence and expand their knowledge about what wines they like, or dislike. And for the more adventurous wine consumer there are also recommendation to “try something completely different”. I found the tasting notes to be accurate representations of what the recommended wines taste like. And perhaps most importantly, since Buy the Right Wine is filled with the most widely available and less expensive brands, the recommended wines should be relatively easy to find. I took the book for a spin at my local BevMo (5 cent sale anyone?) and was able to find many of the wines noted in the book.
Finally, I found the last section of the book, the 20 most useful wine tips, to be quite informative for both wine novices and enthusiasts (I especially like the “how to bring a wine up to room temperature”, and preserving the freshness of opened wine tips).
In terms of opportunities for improvement, this book just begs for a mobile app or e-book, Its selections and helpful wine recommendations would be even better in a more portable and clickable form. Also, while Stevenson does a mostly admirable job avoiding “wine speak”, terms like minerality, residual sugar, malolactic fermentation, or lees aging (wouldn’t it be great if there was an e-book, or app that enabled the user to link directly to the meaning of such words?) are sprinkled throughout book. Stevenson explains every specialist has its own vocabulary. True enough, but some readers not recognize this i a way to expand their wine knowledge, and may be put off by such terms.
I heartily recommend the book to every day wine consumers and wine newbies!
Buy the Right Wine Every Time, The No-Fuss No-Vintage Wine Guide
Author: Tom Stevenson
Book Price: $14.95 retail
Publisher: Sterling Epicure, New York
Buy the book here
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.
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