Grapes in a glass and shameless name-dropping

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  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.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Project on November 4, 2007 at 2:06 AM

    I\’m an ex-dilletante…Tokay in fact.
    I was escaped from an institution for instance once..wild, fifteen, and hiding out in Blackfoot, Idaho…on the reservation. I got married almost at an early age..and I blame wine.
    It took a lot to get her drunk, but Tokay is great for immediate results, and it was worth it…28.4% by volume for the Indians.
    Changing 1/4 mile sets of sprinkler line in the mud was tiresome..and thirst-producing backon the reservation. The tangy tartness and dry after taste is perfect for wetting your sip Tokay of course. The bouquet however is a bit sufpher dioxide and Ozone..practice makes perfect though, as with all good wines.
    Soon, I was up to two quarts per day and doing six sprinkler lines in twelve hour sets, amazing even the hardiest of drinker Indians, which was all of them..old people too. What fun we had!
    As with all good things, I eventually had to move on as Tokay went up to 45 cents per quart, even on the reservation..I must have been the only one who rallied behind absinance as a realistic, they were out there looking for me.
    I had to lay down in the mud with my Tokay in fact..and stay still. But with no chopper, it\’s no…and the mud seemed soft and warm.
    They passed me by unknowingly. It made me thristy I can tell you. And yes, you can drink Tokay lying down in the mud..for deep thirsts, guzzle quickly if they\’re looking for you.
    I am safe now, so the experience was successful. I learned wine inside out.
    For ten days I was curled up in a corner shaking and vomiting. I felt like I had worms and was dying..and very, very thirsty. Then I could barely walk for a month, then run, then got caught out running around..again.
    But I was young and foolish..I escaped twice more and did much better as wiser..took up Tequila. Had even more fun.


  2. Posted by Project on November 10, 2007 at 7:37 AM

    Well, I seen you came by toread my tirade, or at least look. And as you read, I have not, nor will ever have, such a thing as a nmormal life..sorry if you were looking for normal. And forgot to mention with "dilletante" that I not only grew up in a Casino, but my family made whiskey and beer..and fine wines for a hundred years.
    Just great is all I can say for them, and not so great for us kids, I\’m the oldest..and the courts took me and my sister away from them around twelve each. We did years of institution time, and me to seventeen or so. Therefor too much form most in this nice world you seem to have here..and good for you.
    Alcohol is a killer of love…all love. A destroyer of families, all families. And it produces a certain type of brain damgae that can\’t be reversed after a lifetime of it…beware if nothing else. But since I spoke to you at all, I should at least tell the whole story.
    And sorry you tuned in at a trying time for me, and my poor mom…saddest thing that ever happened to any of us.
    For those that embark on the wine journey, it\’s not the bed of roses it pretends. But seeing that it\’s not of interest to you, I\’ll leave you with one piece of trivia from my world…
    I\’m the only one I know with a computer. The rest hock their\’s for drugs should they even get one. I just ahd to take a look at the rich..sorry. So good luck to you. I have much of that myself and am used to it, also the only one I know for that. But don\’t worry for me from what you\’ve read.
    As strange as it sounds, I\’m the top guy in that world..sadder even yet to me. and as I said also, suicide is our biggest killer, not the wine. I would imagine your world lives forever from what little I\’ve seen on the internet.
    And I\’m going to build larger things than simple houses for the deranged..the strangest thing of all.
    But thanks for at least dropping by at all.


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