Last year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn more about wine. Wine is complex, and it goes without saying that there is a lot out there to learn about it. I didn’t necessarily need to become a wine expert – but I wanted to enjoy it more and increase my chances of picking out a bottle that I’d like when I went to the store. I went to wine tastings, took wine classes and read wine books – and, as a result, I know at least a little bit more about wine now than when I started. The hardest part was taking that first step, and a book like The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert is a good – and fun – place to start.
The book is a book that will probably remind you of scratch-and-sniff books that you had as a kid. In fact, the thick cardboard pages and lighthearted illustrations will also remind you of a kids’ book. The idea is that wine shouldn’t be a serious subject – it just needs to be an enjoyable one. The book quickly walks you through the process of tasting wines. It covers all the basic smells that you find in red and white wines: fruit, wood, earth and “other.” The scents – because scents are stronger than flavors – are clearly explained with round circles that you can scratch (and they hold up better than the scratchers that I remember in those kids books) and sniff to really connect the dots as you read.
This isn’t a book that is going to take you from a weekend wine drinker to a master sommelier, but it is very fun to read through and makes a terrific gift for wine lovers. Once you’ve read through a few times, you can pull out a bottle of whatever wine you have on hand and try to match up the aromas with those in the book. Once you start to identify the scents you like, you can use the flavor wheel at the back of the book to narrow down the world of wines to a few varieties that will mostly likely please your palate.