Wine. All The Time.

Monday 13 November 2017

I read Wine. All The Time: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking months ago, over the summer; however, it's a book I've revisited dozens of times since. Written by Marissa A. Ross, a contributing editor and official wine columnist for Bon App├ętit magazine, Wine. All The Time. is the perfect book for anyone interested in educating themselves about wine enough to hold an intelligent conversation, without having to plod through pretentious wine writing.

I dog-earred my copy and jotted down dozens of tips, but here are a few of my favourite takeaways from this energetic, educational, and hilarious book.

1) Learning about wine actually isn't that difficult. 
As Marissa A. Ross writes in Chapter One, she went from drinking the worst wines at aged twenty-two to drinking some of the best in the world by thirty. She's not a sommelier, but her self-education on all things wine related has brought her to where she is now. She argues that we can all better educate ourselves about wine in the same way she did, simply by paying closer attention what we're buying and drinking. Ross suggests approaching wine like we do small plates. "A lot of people are crazy about food," she writes, suggesting we become just as interested and adventurous when it comes to wine.

2) Wine writing doesn't have to be pretentious.
In fact, as Ross proves, it can even include the odd f-bomb. Wine. All The Time is casual and fun, and most importantly, accessible to people of all levels of interest — even those who are only just beginning to explore wine. It includes a glossary with definitions and key phrases, as well as maps, charts, and lists.

3) It's OK to start small when it comes to talking about wine. 
There's so much to learn about wine, including how it is produced and how to describe a wine's taste, but you don't need to learn everything all in one sitting. "No matter what you're drinking, you're learning, and are well on your way to becoming a confident wine drinker," says Ross. She suggests starting small when it comes to talking about wine. "It starts small ('I like light-bodied reds'), but the next thing you know, you'll be talking about notes of blueberry pie and how you prefer stainless steel fermentation for Chardonnay," she says.

4) How to be a confident wine label reader.
If you're like me, you've made a wine-buying decision based mostly on a bottle's graphic design. Wine. All The Time offers simple tips that helps readers decode wine labels, including deciphering terms like "the varietal," "the appellation," and "the vintage." Ross encourages wine drinkers to pay attention to where their wine comes from and what's in it. "... you can't care about where your kale comes from and not care about where your wine comes from," she says.

5) How to order wine at a restaurant. 
Successfully ordering wine from a restaurant, especially when confronted with a leather-bound wine list with hundreds of options, is still something I've yet to master. Luckily, Ross makes it easy with a section called "How to order wine in any restaurant," which follows another very useful section — "Buying wine for a gift." She offers simple solutions, including "Talk to the waiter/sommelier," "Don't worry about looking cheap," and "Don't get hung up on pronunciations," that makes restaurant wine menus seem much less daunting.

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