WINE FOR DUMMIES — and for the rest of us, too!
Wine, good wine, is one of those creations that makes life worth living. There’s so many; so much to know. So I got a copy of WINE FOR DUMMIES from You-Know-Where.com. I’ve never been fond of the "for Dummies" title because I’m not a dummy. But, the book does what it advertises. It tells me everything I WANT to know, plenty of stuff I SHOULD know, and lots of things I’m EXCITED to know.
For example, there’s a section on corkscrews. The one I have does a good job if I get the screw in just the right spot. (A wine cork’s sweet spot is the center of the cork. Be careful that the screw doesn’t skew sideways!) The worst type is the plain corkscrew — no leverage. Better ones are the screwpull (combo corkscrew with prongs) and the "Butler’s Friend" (prongs only). Then, on page 101 (2003/3rd ed.), there’s a bit titled "The most professional corkscrew of them all". OMG! That’s the one I have! It’s called "The Waiter’s Corkscrew". It’s a bit like a girly swiss army knife. It has the standard curly screw, a knife to cut foil around the mouth, and a piece that looks like a bottle opener — which is what gives you the leverage to pull out the cork. You still have to get the curly screw in just right, brace the bottle opener bit against the lip and pull. Good leverage, not that much muscle to pull out the cork. However, you have to be careful not to bend the curly screw.
Another great thing about this book is that you can read it in pieces. It’s not meant to be a novel. You can pretty much cover your eyes, and drop a finger into the table of contents.
Yet, organizing so much information and minutiae does have its challenges. Some of the pages contain so much graphic design, your eyes are not sure where to look first. There’s lists, bullet lists, charts, grey boxes, marginalia, tables, titles, titles almost indistinguishable from subtitles. Phew!
The grey box on p.212 should have been placed closer to the beginning of the book. It’s one of the most interesting blocks of information in the entire book, and it really helped me understand the philosophy of winemaking.
Other useful bits are the tearaway cheat sheet at the beginning and plenty of blank pages to jot down notes. Also, the margins are quite wide, which is great for writing notes to self. In keeping with the earthy humor (humor de terroir) — sorry — the section pages feature wine-related comics from THE 5TH WAVE.
The appendices could make a book all their own. Pronounciation chart (btw, you don’t have to come all the way to the back for that. Whenever an important foreign word is introduced, a pronounciation guide is right next to it! Sweet! A well-filled glossary, vintage chart, and painstaking index. If you’re like me, you don’t bother with tables of contents. I go straight to the index. Tables of Contents are like topic sentences. They don’t help you find specific information, they just hand you a road map and send you on your way.
I’m ok with being a wine dilletante. The difference between me and the experts has been reduced to the fact that they’ve had more practice. Wine snobs are done and dusted. Their time is over. It’s time to open up your minds like you open up your noses.
Click on the link for this book at The Festering Book Browser.