Dr. Grape Pairings (aka Dr. GP) and I are trying to cut back on our TV watching. While in the hospital and since coming home, I feel like we are always on some kind of screen. Now that it is summer, we are going on more walks during the day to keep us occupied. However, I’ve noticed that the evenings are often spent in front of the television.
To help with this, Dr. GP and I are attempting to alternate nights where we decide to read instead of watch TV. It depends on the night, but we try to switch it up. Some nights are kept sacred for the television, like Sundays. That’s GoT night for now until football season starts. Then, Thursday and Sunday nights will be kept as TV nights, especially if the Pats are playing. So in reality, we’re not alternating at all…it’s a play it by ear, kinda thing. Either way, the point is, we’re trying to read more.
Currently, I am reading various chapters from The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil, and am learning so much! Nearing 1,000 pages of nothing but wine information, I was intimidated at first. However, The Wine Bible is easy to read once you take away that notion that it needs to be read cover to cover. I read it country by country. Some countries require a few nights of reading (e.g. France), while others can be read quickly (e.g. New Zealand).
Karen MacNeil writes as if she were everyone’s favorite professor in college. She provides a wealth of details and facts (so many details and facts!), but not in a way that keeps you yawning. She includes personal experiences and witty descriptions, all the while, writes in a way that everyone can understand her. Below is an excerpt about Beaujolais Nouveau in France that I think captures her voice well.
“In 1985, France’s Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) established the third Thursday in November as the wine’s uniform release date. (Interestingly, in the rush to release Nouveau on the official date, growers sometimes have to pick early, before the grapes are ripe, thus undermining the quality of the wine.) While theoretically there is better and worse Nouveau, in fact, much of the wine tastes merely of melted purple Popsicles. Drinking it gives you the same kind of silly pleasure as eating cookie dough” (page 232).
In this excerpt, MacNeil provides humorous comparisons that most can relate to in order to describe the taste of Beaujolais Nouveau and why it tastes so sweet.
Another reason that The Wine Bible is so easy to read is that each chapter has the same layout. Take, for example, the chapter on the country of Australia. Every country starts with a map of the country, highlighting where wine is grown.
MacNeil then starts her introduction to the country. Introductions typically include talking about a country’s terroir and how its history contributed to what they are doing in wine today.
As you read through the introduction, pictures and text boxes of other relevant information are spread throughout. In general, the pink text boxes appear in every country’s chapter. For example, every country has a pink text box called “The Quick Sip of,” and “The Most Important — Wines,” among many others. The white text boxes are particular to the country that you are reading. Some text boxes include overall summaries, where others are tangential, yet informative, like the ones in the second picture below:
The chapter is then broken into regions, where each one is explained more thoroughly. Again, pictures and text boxes appear, helping the reader visualize the information.
At the end of the chapter are names of the best wine producers and pictures of the labels of some of the most famous wines from the area.
No matter who you are or how much or how little you know about wine, if you enjoy wine, you will learn something from The Wine Bible. Barely a page went by where I didn’t highlight something. For example, I had no idea that Prosecco is primarily made from “glera,” one of the many Italian grapes that I have never heard of. I also learned that the wine “Cloudy Bay” put New Zealand on the map as a serious wine making country. If you are looking to learn more about wine, I highly recommend buying this book for your own bookshelf!
Book: The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil ($24.95 from karenmacneil.com)