Best wine book I’ve read. I laughed, I learned, I reconsidered, I dropped my jaw in “oh my goodness – that happens?”, I smiled to myself, I re-read, I highlighted and I even took goddamn pics of pages. I mean, it was borderline obsessive.
So when I went to post this book on Instagram and started to write a caption, I realized a paragraph would not suffice. So, without further ado …my thoughts.
I’ve never read about wine in such an entertaining way because it’s not about the wine, it’s about the emotion wine provokes. It’s about the memories it conjures up, the moments it brings you back to, the nostalgia of that glass you had with that friend which ended in deep conversations and closed out the restaurant that one night.
There are many memorable moments in this book (highlighted below), but the game changer happened in one sentence on page 41. “Wine is a creative writing course”
Thank you. I needed that.
I want to get back to describing wines in weird ways which make sense to me. After reading this on the weekend, I walked to the LCBO and spent what could have been 30 minutes wandering aisles with my book in hand. I looked like a crazy person; finger on the page, trying to find where it mentions which area in France, Pineau d’Aunis comes from (I ended up with an organic Italian Soave, which I promptly came home, tasted and wrote about.)
Here’s my highlight reel of fav quotes and concepts:
1. We all have the capacity to understand wine because we all have memories and emotions. We’ve bitten into an apple, we’ve smelt old leather or fresh ground coffee. Maybe, we’ve also dreamt of an island off the coast of Greece, lined with white rocks with the aroma of salt in the air. You haven’t been there yet but you can imagine what it feels like. If you have memories and imagination, you have the ability to taste and talk about wine.
2. Marissa is not a sommelier. PRAISE THE LORD! You can know about wine and not be a somm. Some of the most knowledgeable and enjoyable people I know in the industry aren’t somms.
3. Wine is not math. There is no right or wrong answer. Don’t be nervous to talk about your wine. You’re not a contestant on a game show; “Ohhh, sorry Tamara, no it wasn’t “jammy”. The word we were looking for was “Fleshy…Fleshy.” (Not my analogy. Quote from the book).
4. Be as experimental with food as you are with wine. When you avoid the unknown (unknown varitels) you avoid inspiration.
5. “Nero d’ Avola is a dusty European cowboy covered in jam. Riding in from a nonexistent desert on the outskirts of Italy.”
I mean. I have nothing else to say about that one (check out the entire varietal section for more descriptors like that).
If you have the slightest interest in wine, read this book. In all seriousness, what I fully respected were the sections entitled “How to drink with your boss and not lose your job” and “How to have a successful drunk heart-to-heart“. Amidst the light-heartedness and humour these titles provoke, there was a clear “dont be the drunken idiot in the room” vibe, which I respected immensely. Wine is there to make moments better, not for us to forget them (the tips on getting wine into a stadium weren’t bad though).
So here’s to great wine writing that connects to emotions and not thesaurus inspired descriptors of acidity no one can relate to. That’s why I started writing in the first place and somewhere between buying too many thrifted clothes and reading too many blogger tips, I had forgotten that. This book was a breath of fresh air when I needed it most.