Laughren (The Beer Drinker’s Guide to Knowing and Enjoying Fine Wine, 2012) offers a guide to getting more out of your wine-drinking experience.
The author writes that the “one constant” of wine appreciation is “realizing the impossibility of ever mastering this vast subject.” He’s no stranger to convincing readers that oenology is for everyone, and with this new book, he casts a very wide net, packing a great deal of history, geography, personal experience, and advice on refining one’s palate into short chapters. Laughren’s 50 suggestions include creating a country chart in order to keep track of all the wines one has tried (or wants to try); visiting a winery in person; and drinking with people from other countries. Along the way, he addresses the smallest associated details (“Stemless glasses? Get rid of them”) and introduces subjects that even self-proclaimed aficionados might not know about, such as the special kvevri wines of Georgia, which are made using ancient techniques. Along with the advice, Laughren takes every opportunity to share his vast knowledge about a subject that he obviously loves to study. For instance, the simple tip “Take Notes” is indeed a sound idea for novices, but the author uses it as a springboard to go further afield, addressing the different flavors and smells that one should attempt to identify during wine-tasting. As a result, the chapters can become dense; indeed, the work as a whole might have been more interesting if it were organized thematically or as an encyclopedia. Still, Laughren’s mastery of the subject is impressive, and it shines through on every page. Those who take the time to follow his fascinating digressions are sure to find something new and delicious.
This book’s heft may intimidate novices, but these pieces of advice will be useful for anyone who’s ever wanted to know more about wine.