Friday, 18 October 2013

Wine Wishlist; The Essential Scratch & Sniff Wine Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert

According to our ever trustworthy friend, Wikipedia, wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. While the practice of wine tasting is as ancient as its production, a more formalized methodology has slowly become established from the 14th century onwards.

Professional wine tasters (sommeliers or buyers) use a complex formal terminology to describe the range of perceived flavours, aromas and general characteristics of a wine. To the average Joe (or Jo, as my case may be!) most of their words will make no sense, particularly when strung together in a meddling paragraph of too many adjectives.

Recreational tasters (ok, we mean wine geeks like us) have long tried to adopt a similar approach, but sadly, this makes us sound pompous and stuffy. Tasting notes are useful to identify the aroma, taste, acidity, structure, texture, and balance of a wine, but what if you can't identify these in the first place? A very short tasting note eventuates...Tastes, like, um, well, wine.

Brainchild of master sommelier Richard Betts (@yobetts) and nearly five years in the making, The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That, is perhaps the most fun wine guide we've ever laid eyes on without actually tasting any wine. The first book of it's kind, it allows readers to scratch and sniff their way to wine expertise by introducing the basic components of wine - the fruits, the wood and the earth.

Covering red and black fruit aromas in red wines and stone fruit versus more exotic fruit in white wines, Betts also explains in simple terms, the concept of terroir, oak aging and those random aromas that you sometimes just cannot identify - bacon scented wine? In all of our dreams we longed to wish this was true - turns out, it is.

Always aiming to make your wine journey an easy one, we simply must get our hands on, and encourage you to get you hands on, the newest and perhaps most useful wine guide we have ever seen. A huge fan of scratch and sniff stickers back in the old primary school days, and still a fan of scented markers (yes, I did smell some just last week), I cannot fathom how this concept has not materialised prior to now.

We're on the same wavelength - we don't want wine to be stuffy, it shouldn't be. It also shouldn't take an English degree to write a tasting note. If you think a wine smells like Turkish delight, then go ahead and tell us, there is no right or wrong answer! We only wish we'd come up with the book's tag line for oursleves...Wine is a grocery, not a luxury.

So if there's a wine novice in your life who wants to be an expert, I'd snap up a copy (around £10 with delivery, from Amazon) and wrap it up for Christmas. If we're blanketed in snow over the Chrismas period and inadvertently housebound, then you can be sure they'll be entertained for hours and a wine expert in no time! Though we hold no guarantees their ego won't grow and they'll want to be the next Olly Smith...we can only vouch for the fabulousness of the book.

Thank you Richard Betts for making wine fun :-)

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