A few years ago, Jon Bonné’s book The New California Wine became one of my favorite books on wine. I think some people looked at that book as the author telling people that these are the only wines you should be drinking out of the vast selection available to us. Instead, I took Mr. Bonné’s intent to be to advise his readers of which wineries he felt were most involved in pushing the boundaries of quality winemaking in California.
Admittedly, I especially appreciated Bonné’s theme as I tend to gravitate towards wine outliers myself; often those who don’t follow the standard rules.
So, I was somewhat surprised by the author’s latest book, which is all about rules. I expected to dislike this book, but I liked it – a lot. Truthfully, the “rules” read more like suggestions to make your wine-life easier, whether you be a possibly intimidated wine novice or a seasoned wine lover. And as the book reads like suggestions, the reader can feel free to choose which ones works best for him or her.
Some of the “rules” that resonated with me were…
Rule 1 – Drink the rainbow.
It’s easy to get in a rut of one color [red, white or pink] or even one varietal [sayeth the Zin Fan]. That’s a good way to do it, if you want to miss a lot.
Rule 6 – There’s a difference between “fruity” and “sweet.”
While the author tries to not get hung up on technicalities, this is a good one to remember. They definitely mean different things.
Rule 14 – Organic and biodynamic mean something specific. Natural means a different thing.
I like this one because, ironically, these terms mean very little to me as to whether I select a wine for my own drinking. Although it does make for interesting conversation while sharing a glass or two of it with fellow wine drinkers.
Rule 17 – Stop worrying about sulfites.
I love this one for all of you who complain that the sulfites gave you a headache when it is really probably because you drank too much.
Rule 23 – No two bottles of wine – even of the same wine – are exactly alike.
So many factors can contribute to bottle variation, from conditions at the winery to conditions with the consumer and anywhere in between. It is just a fact of life and what contributes to wine being so interesting.
Rule 25 – The occasional faulty bottle of wine is a fact of life. Don’t let one ruin your day.
Something I need to remind myself of sometimes.
The author also provides a very nice explanation of what the various faults [corked, cooked, oxidized, brett, etc.] are. Personally, I’ve found that people can be sensitive to some faults more than others; for example, “oxidation” is my pet peeve. I also am reminded of a conversation I was having with a WSET-2 graduate [no, not Eve] who was describing a flawed wine she had tasted and said “It was corked; it was totally oxidized.” When I inquired which it was [corked or oxidized] I was met with a blank stare.
Rule 26 – A wine’s price rarely reflects its quality.
As long as we’re not talking about bargain supermarket plonk, I tend to agree. Although I still think you are more likely [but not guaranteed, of course] to get a better bottle by spending the extra bucks.
Rule 42 – Never judge a bottle by its closure.
If it were up to me, all wines would have twist-off caps.
I’ll stop with that one. There are a lot more rules in the book, 89 in total. This book is definitely worthy of your time, not just for the rules but also for the large amount of useful information that the author manages to include in a fairly small space.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.