Hello, Wine (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013) is the title of a kind of bloggy book I purchased (well, we purchased) at Whole Foods some time ago. Authored by Melanie Wagner, we bought it because. . . . she was there. The subtitle is "the most essential things you need to know about wine." And, Melanie told us quite enthusiastically how she changed her career and got into the wine industry -- and is sharing all that she learned with others via the book.
As I said, the book is bloggy. A lot of what is in there, anyone who consumes wine carefully likely knows. Of course, she does not know everything, which we learned even before we bought the book since she knew little (if anything) about Finger Lakes wines, which we all know are strong in, say, Rieslings that are dry.
Despite its imperfections, the book is fun. The mix of drawings and information, the organization, the mix of practicality (wines ranked by price) and romance of the vine, makes for a nice flip through. A few tidbits:
1. What to do if no corkscrew, or a broken cork, or . . . . there are "strange bits in your glass." (See pages 134-136 under the rubric Wine 911.) The silliness to seriousness ratio is, perhaps, indicated by the fact that the final disaster is when you run out of wine. (The solution, obvious, of course.)
2. There is a helpful glossary of all those terms that wine fans (aka snobs) use to describe wines. (I use them too.) However, some of the definitions are a tad. . . circular. Here's one: grassy = "A wine that smells or tastes like freshly cut grass." Hmmm. I am not sure if this is a comment on who hte author thinks is reading or . . . (see p. 75).
3. There is a terrific bit on awful smells that come with messed up wine, which is actually one of the mpost important things I have read about wine ever. On page 70 it not only tells you what it might mean if your wine smells like we cardboard or wet horse, it tells you what to do about it. Definitely worth the weight of the book.
And, of course, there is more -- fun quotations, bits of trivia. I suspect no one will look at the book and leave with no new tidbit. Great gift for the novice too.