Read and lis­ten up on wine

The Bot­tle Kur­tis Kolt

The Georgia Straight - - Richmond World Fest -

Even though I’m not in school, the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber al­ways feels like I’m start­ing my year anew. I’ll gen­er­ally try to pick up my fit­ness and nu­tri­tion game, just as one is wont to do at the be­gin­ning of Jan­uary, and there’s usu­ally a push to read a lit­tle more, learn some­thing new, or do some­thing along those lines. I’m prob­a­bly not alone in this; it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on how the year has been go­ing, and then to give it our all in the home stretch.

For those think­ing it’s a good time to boost their wine knowl­edge, there are plenty of books and pod­casts at our dis­posal. With a mul­ti­tude of of­fer­ings out there, I thought I’d share some of my favourites that will make learn­ing fun. Of course, the best part is it’s ab­so­lutely en­cour­aged to have a glass of some­thing de­li­cious in hand while hit­tin’ the books.

THE 24-HOUR WINE EX­PERT (by Jan­cis Robin­son) Ar­guably the most revered wine writer and critic on the planet, U.k.–based

Jan­cis Robin­son is a colum­nist at the

Fi­nan­cial Times, and is at the helm of the Ox­ford Com­pan­ion to Wine. The

24-Hour Wine Ex­pert is an in­ex­pen­sive and com­pact guide to wine, sit­ting at around 100 pages that can eas­ily be de­voured in one sit­ting, and cer­tainly over the pe­riod of a day or two. It ticks all the boxes to give read­ers a well-rounded out­line of the world of wine, keep­ing things ba­sic and brief. By the time that fi­nal page has been turned, you’ll be armed with knowl­edge of how wine is made, how to read la­bels, match­ing food and wine, and var­i­ous grape va­ri­eties and wine styles, plus a fully stamped pass­port of the ma­jor wine-pro­duc­ing coun­tries and re­gions around the world. Com­mon myths about wine, buy­ing tips, and a handy glos­sary of wine jargon are also cov­ered. You’ll know ev­ery­thing from Al­bar­iño to Zweigelt in no time.

WINE. ALL THE TIME. THE CA­SUAL GUIDE TO CON­FI­DENT DRINK­ING (by Marissa A. Ross) Above ev­ery­thing, this book is so damn funny. Ross, the wine ed­i­tor at Bon Ap­pétit mag­a­zine, started her ca­reer as a com­edy writer and was Mindy Kal­ing’s as­sis­tant for a good four years while im­mers­ing her­self in a self-guided wine ed­u­ca­tion. She had an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar wine blog dur­ing that time, where her ca­sual, hon­est, and of­ten hi­lar­i­ous mus­ings got no­ticed in the big leagues, re­ceiv­ing both the edi­tors’ and read­ers’ choice awards for best wine cov­er­age in Saveur mag­a­zine’s blog awards. She was also named one of Wine En­thu­si­ast’s 40 Un­der 40. While this book cov­ers most of the ba­sics, it’s her per­sonal anec­dotes and opin­ions on these ba­sics that re­ally give it life. When clar­i­fy­ing that ab­so­lutely all wines have sul­fites, she bol­sters the fact by adding “I don’t care what the white kid with dread­locks at the farmer’s mar­ket told you, ‘sul­fite-free’ wines are not a thing.” Even for those who know their stuff, this is such a fun read.


FROM GROUND TO GLASS (by Alice Feir­ing) This is def­i­nitely one for the geekier wine fans out there. Those look­ing to (al­most lit­er­ally) drill even a lit­tle deeper into wine and learn more about a soil’s in­flu­ence on what’s in the bot­tle should find The Dirty Guide to Wine fas­ci­nat­ing. Alice Feir­ing has been one of the world’s big­gest pro­po­nents of the nat­u­ral-wine move­ment, and with this book she looks at many of the world’s wine­grow­ing re­gions through the lens of the soils where their vine­yards are planted. She be­gins by of­fer­ing a tu­to­rial in the ba­sics of soil type, and then breaks down the com­po­nents of proper tast­ing that will as­sist in dis­cern­ing soil, min­er­als, and their in­flu­ence. With the ap­proach of both an aca­demic and an en­thu­si­ast, she tack­les re­gions from the ground up, and the re­sult is a fresh look at wine. En­joy­able anec­dotes and spe­cific wine rec­om­men­da­tions are of­fered in abun­dance.

I’LL DRINK TO THAT! (www.illdrink­tothat­ On the pod­cast side of things, for­mer som­me­lier Levi Dal­ton (pro­nounced “levee”) has been in­ter­view­ing wine lu­mi­nar­ies in his New York City apart­ment for well over 400 episodes. These are lengthy in­ter­views, yet cap­ti­vat­ing glimpses into worlds many of us rarely en­counter, with folks like Food & Wine mag­a­zine’s ex­ec­u­tive wine ed­i­tor Ray Isle, Pied­mont wine­mak­ing leg­end Luca Cur­rado Vi­etti, and, well, hun­dreds more. Be a fly on the wall, en­joy colour­ful storytelling, and learn by os­mo­sis.

BRING YOUR OWN (www.face­­opod­cast/) This brand-new pod­cast from Cana­dian expat Derek Mor­ri­son, now a wine mer­chant in Lon­don, has a sim­ple premise: get a few peo­ple from the wine trade around a ta­ble, crack open a few bot­tles of a cer­tain theme, and let the con­ver­sa­tion flow. Pull up a vir­tual seat and en­joy.

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