20 Lessons from a Tiny Book About Wine

July 9, 2018

20 Lessons from a Book About Wine | Alyssa Pacaut

Books about wine are usually stuffy and long-winded. And then there is The 24-Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson.

Though only 105 pages long, it’s jam-packed with info about wine from tasting and buying to food pairings and everything in between. You too can spend a weekend afternoon delighting in this tiny book or take a few moments to read twenty takeaways I’ve provided for you here.

On Tasting Wine
• A wine has four dimensions: acidity, sweetness, tannin, and alcohol. Great wines have a good balance of these four things.
• The body of wine refers to the alcoholic content. Full bodied means you can taste a lot of alcohol while light means there is less alcohol.
• Ever wonder why you tilt a glass while wine tasting? Usually older wines will show a different color at the rim than they show at the middle.
• Myth buster: You don’t need different glasses for different types of wine. One glass will suffice for reds, whites, and rosé!

On Buying Wine
• Higher priced bottles means higher quality wine until you hit about $50. Once you pass that point, you’re likely paying for marketing or prestige.
• Need a crowd pleasing red wine? Pick up a Pinot Noir, Chianti, Zinfandel, or Côtés de Rhône.
• You’ve probably heard about a magnum but what about a Nebuchadnezzar? It’s a humongous bottle that holds 20 bottles of normal-sized wine bottles! Party time!
• Here’s an easy tip for choosing a bottle at a wine store: Avoid any bottles that are sitting in the sun.

On Pairing Wine with Food
• Not sure what to serve with spicy food? Go with a Riesling or German Gerwürtztraminer.
• Back in the day, Spanish bars covered the top of wine glasses with appetizers like sliced bread and ham. This kept the fruit flies away from the sweet wine and eventually evolved into the tasty tradition of tapas. Also, tapa means to cover. How perfect!
• If you are tired of pairing white wines with fish, then try a Pinot Noir from California or New Zealand next time you serve salmon.
• Chocolate mousse is a great dessert for dinner parties because you can make it ahead and, well, everyone loves chocolate! Serve it with a Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Like That? Try This
• Made from the same grape Albariño is a Spanish wine that is very similar to vinho verde. Both are great for summer!
• If you love Pinot Noir, then look for an Italian Barolo or Barbesco wine made from the Nebbiolo grape.
• Pinot Noir is originally from Burgundy but has now made its home in the Champagne region of France, Oregon, New Zealand, and cooler parts of California. Try a bottle from each area!
• Did you know Syrah and Shiraz are the same thing?! The word Shiraz is mainly used by Australian winemakers.

All about Champagne
• No champagne flutes, no worries! Champagne can be enjoyed in a typical, everyday wine glass too.
• There are three ways to get bubbles into your champagne. The easy way is to pump carbon dioxide into the wine. The hard way is to add a mixture of sugar and yeast into a tank of wine to create a second fermentation before bottling. The extra hard and super traditional way gets the second fermentation going in each individual bottle.
• Here’s something funny: When you open a bottle of champagne by twisting it ever so slightly, it releases in one small swift noise that is known as a nun’s fart.
• Every champagne was once a Chardonnay. The end.

P.S. Some great wine to get from Trader Joe’s and how to recycle your wine corks.