If you’re looking to learn about wine; whether it’s to impress the in-laws, or simply to ensure you make the right choice when deciding what to drink with dinner, Matt Walls’ book is ideal.
Split into two parts, the first section looks at the basics of buying, tasting and drinking wine. Matt talks you through how wine is made and aged, how to taste wine, some common wine descriptors (along with some useful, if a bit risky, blagging advice – Now say one of the following: If it’s from the New World: ‘Clearly New World; lovely, vibrant fruit’. If it’s a red: ‘Interesting tannins’. ‘If it’s a white: ‘Good minerality’…), which faults to look out for when tasting wine, how to match wine styles to different foods, how to navigate a restaurant wine list, and my personal favourite – how to open a wine bottle in an emergency (having used the ‘poke-it-in’ method on a bottle of Rioja not too long ago). In this section, Matt also offers some advice on what to look out for when buying wine. With various tips and recommendations on ‘safe bets’ to pick up at the local shop or supermarket (as well as the benefits of buying from an independent wine merchant), this chapter caters for all eventualities, such as friends coming round for lunch when the wine rack is somewhat depleted (this also happened to me not too long ago).
The second section covers the world’s most common wines in an accessible and fun way, looking at everything from Bourgogne Pinot Noir to Hungarian Tokáji. The layout of the whole book removes it from feeling like a textbook, and Matt’s light-hearted and unpretentious approach (at one point comparing the grape varieties of Alsace to breeds of dog!) make it a pleasure, rather than a chore, to read.
At the very end of the book, Matt includes an appendix on English wineries (having paid Ridgeview in East Sussex a visit on Friday, I can personally recommend casting an eye over this section), and a brief list of UK independent wine merchants worth popping into.
While you are more than welcome to read it from cover to cover, this book would be perfect sitting on the shelf as a reference for when you want to know what that Clare Valley Riesling is going to taste like, or how to store and serve tawny Port.
Part of the New Voices in Food Series, Drink Me! How to choose, taste and enjoy wine is due out on 24th May and you can pre-order it now from Amazon for just £6.62!
You can also see Matt talking about the book here.