#KevinZraly #CompleteWineCourse #SterlingEpicure #SterlingPublishing #TotalWine #Wine #WineTasting
This is an amazing book and has major gift potential for any wine enthusiast. As the title promises, this book will teach you all about wine appreciation. It’s a huge volume, and intimidating at first glance, but really actionable once you dive in. He’s thorough and it’s chock-full of interesting tangents and random factoids to delight even the very geekiest among us.
You’ll know exactly what bottle to bring for any dinner party. Guest like a boss!
I jokingly apologized to my husband for the havoc I was about to wreak on our bank account playing in this book. We took the book to the Total Wine down the street, sticky notes flapping from the pages we were starting with, excited to embark on the world’s best scavenger hunt for grown-ups. To my delighted surprise, working through his recommended lists, our basket was much more affordable than I’d anticipated. It was really quite reasonable. Hooray!
A huge thanks to Sterling Publishing for letting me take you with me on my grown-up scavenger hunt!
Using the book. I’m starting with prelude to wine, followed by the greater world of wine chapter at the end to get an idea of what to watch for as I’m reading, and then going through the classes one by one, followed by the quizzes for each chapter (found at the end in the world of wine). It might be fun to print the corresponding quiz first to answer as you go along.
He doesn’t hand-feed you lists of wines to go out and buy, but instead teaches you how to select wine. I’ll take you with us on our first scavenger hunt. On page 86 in Class One: American wine and the red wines of California, we find our first guided tasting. It’s 6 categories. I’m showing you the first two, so you can get an idea how the tastings are shaped.
On page 79, you’d find a list of his favorite brands (and it’s extensive) of Carneros Pinot Noirs. Then you’d look at the best recent vintages on the same page to know which years you should be looking for. We grabbed two from the list, and after the 6 bottle or more discount, they were $18 and $20. There are others on the list that are much more expensive. We’ll try those in later tastings.
Then we turned to page 103 to get his list of recommended wines from Oregon, and selected two from the list, at $24 and $21.
[EDIT: I’m editing this to add this in. We tasted these first last night with grilled steak, asparagus, and au gratin potatoes. We tasted them again tonight after dinner. I’m surprised by how much of a difference that makes. The Ponzi was gorgeous with dinner, with a lovely spiciness. On their own, Erath is fabulously fragrant, and you can pick up cherries, strawberries, raspberries, vanilla, oak, cola, smokiness, and the Ponzi just has a little fragrance and just a whisper of plums and licorice. We noticed afterwards that the Ponzi boasts that it’s food friendly. This is fun. If you sometimes enjoy wine with dinner and other times on its own, you might want to make each tasting two parts to experience each with dinner and on its own.]
Then we turned to Zinfandels. It was supposed to be one from Sonoma and one from Napa. We planned to grab two from each, but Total Wine didn’t have any from Napa from the recommended list, we just bought from from the list, ignoring the region. Three were from Sonoma. The bottles were $20, $14, $15, and $13.
I planned to turn to pages 352-354 where he has 14 pages of the World’s best value wines under $30 for a value comparison, but everything we’d chosen from the regular lists already fit that ticket.
And finally, if you’re feeling particularly saucy, you’d see the recommended food pairings for each variety.
Gift pairing: This book with a) a lovely journal to take notes in, b) a bottle of wine or two of the recipient’s favorite variety or region (corresponding course), c) a value wine from the recipient’s favorite variety or region (pages 352-365. These lists are specific), d) glasses (page 349), e) tickets to a wine event! (pages 367-368), or f) tickets to a wine trip (yes please!).
The Chapters are:
*Prelude to Wine: This is a general basics chapter to get started, discussing grapes, bottles & glasses, reading wine labels, physiology of smell & taste, wine aromas & tastes, tasting, and the 60-second wine expert (a quick breakdown on the timing on the different aspects of tasting).
*Class One: American wine and the red wines of California. I’ve included a snapshot from the margin where he’s quote Miles from the movie Sideways, just to give you an idea of how charming and likeable the author’s voice is.
*Class Two: The white wines of California and other American wines
*Class Three: French wines and the red wines of Bordeaux
*Class Four: The red wines of Burgundy and the Rhone Valley
*Class Five: The white wines of France
*Class Six: The wines of Spain. After reading this chapter, I want to take a trip to Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco in Briones, Rioja. Zraly calles it the World’s best wine museum! Here’s their website. In addition to the museum, they have a winery and restaurant right there! It looks pixelated like something out of Minecraft, no?
*Class Seven: The wines of Italy
*Class Eight: The wines of Australia and New Zealand
*Class Nine: The wines of South America
*Class Ten: The wines of Germany
*Class Eleven: Sparkling Wines
*Class Twelve: Fortified Wines
*Wines of the World: Canada, South Africa, Austria, Hungary, and Greece
*The Greater World of Wine:
-Wine and food pairings. These are great. He’s got charts, so you can pick any single item to start with – the wine, the entrée, or even seasonal produce, and you’ll be able to pair them together with other selections from that column. And the categories are pretty general, by color and body of wine, so it’s easy to get a handle on it.
–Frequently asked questions about wine. Just that.
-The best of the best. This is a very eclectic list of bests – best Valentine’s Day wine, best cheese for wine, best wine for chocolate, best wine glass manufacturer, best wine event…
-The World’s best value wines under $30. What a terrific jumping off point. It’s broken down into American red and white, Argentinian red and white, Australian red and white, Austrian red and white, Chilean red and white, French red, white, and rose, German white, Greek, Italian red, white, rose, and prosecco, New Zealand’s red and white, South African red and white, and Spanish red, white, and cava.
-Wine resources. He discusses storage and equipment, books including pocket guides and food pairings, magazines, certification programs, wine events, and websites specializing in smell and taste.
-Looking back with gratitude.
-Wine quizzes. Quizzes to take, chapter by chapter, from the prelude to wines of the world.
*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.
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