Always interested in learning about wine, and even more in masterful ways it can be delivered painlessly and with a little fun I was happy to read and review the book, Wine for Normal People by Elizabeth Schneider. This an excerpt of some of the information. I will follow up with my review below.
…author, certified wine educator and Court of Master Sommelier-certified Elizabeth Schneider will give it to you straight. In Wine for Normal People: A Guide for Real People Who Like Wine, but Not the Snobbery That Goes with It (Chronicle Books), Schneider gives real talk about wine without talking down to the audience and with a dash of humor to boot. Schneider carries her knowledge, personality and wit over onto her Wine for Normal People podcast, which boasts 7 million unique downloads, placing it firmly in the top five percent of all podcasts produced in the United States.
“I was a normal wine person before I became a wine dork. I understand the struggles that people have with wine and why they don’t like it,” she explains. “Because of that, I can show them things that actually matter to them and that will shift their thinking to enjoy wine more.”
Schneider is well versed in:
- How to create wine pairings that really work (and why pairing wine with chocolate is almost always a mistake)
- How to choose a wine that will impress a date
- How her approach to wine is different than that of “the wine world”
- Why it’s important to make wine accessible to all
- The key to communicating difficult ideas in wine to an audience of all levels
Starting with the flyleaf we are told that we will “learn how to buy, sip and talk about wine” which is really what it’s all about! Of course that is just a snippet, and the rest of the jacket shares short statements, easily digestible by us normal people. We will also learn about tasting, tasting jargon, winemaking and winemaking jargon, how to pair with food, and if you want to push the edge or your envelope Schneider has included sections on Old and New World wine areas.
The 340-page books includes eight chapters, as well as travel tips, tasting sheets, serving temperatures, a bibliography and for us lazy readers: an index. It begins with “Introduction: Everything You Need to Know About Wine in Two Pages” that I found interesting indeed as she promises to give us “the basics plus more.” Especially enjoyed when Schneider gets her first taste, not of wine, but of what she calls “schmuck-ery” from a wine snob. Oh, how I both hate and enjoy those encounters!
There are helpful Q and A sections in the book, in boxes, as well as sidebars. This makes things easy as Schneider hopes to answer any question or thought you may have as you read.
As a seasoned wino myself I always look for things I didn’t already know or have forgotten, and the more wine-educated Schneider reminded me of: the different smell and taste descriptors often found for certain varietals (page 67), the old world wine names and the new world name for the same grapes (page 82), how to pronounce some of those pesky names (page 85), regulations and classifications for new world wines (page 90-91) and old world wines (page 93), two chapters with detailed descriptions of old world wine regions and new world regions with maps to help you find your way.
Further in the book we have a section on food and wine pairing, a question I often get, so this is great for peeps to just grab the book and look up for themselves. Schneider explains why foods go better with certain styles of wines and her own three-step process. She pays close attention to weight, structure and dominant flavors.
More charts end our lesson, so don’t ignore these great reference materials, especially if you need/want a quick answer to things like serving temperature and vocabulary.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.