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Wine is a Food Group   1 comment


Several years ago, I interviewed Richard Betts for a freelance piece I was writing. It came about because he lives in Boulder, had his own wine label (Betts & Scholl) and, at the time, was one of only 170 master sommeliers worldwide. Since then the number has grown to 214 and Betts has written a humorous, albeit basic, book: The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert.

Betts is personable, knowledgeable and not at all condescending – qualities that shine in the book. He wants wine to be accessible, not limited to a certain class or clientele. In fact his approach is included on the book’s cover: “Wine is a grocery, not a luxury.”

In less than two dozen cardboard-like pages, all of which have simple drawings like the content of a children’s book, Betts admonishes readers to simply use their noses to help identify their wine likes and dislikes. He even goes so far as to single out the smells most often found in wines as a way to understand why one wine might be more appealing than another. He writes, “Know that tasting is actually smelling.”

The book, indeed, has scratch and sniff spots, but not all the aromas shine. Still, the point is well taken. Most of us know what vanilla smells like, and if we like it or not. The bottom line, Betts emphasizes, is to drink wine you like. He is just helping readers understand why some might be more appealing than others.

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming A Wine Expert
Four Bookmarks
Hougton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
21 pages

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One response to “Wine is a Food Group

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  1. wow……..I thought my Christmas shopping was done and wrapped………now I MUST get this book!!! Thanks for the GREAT review!!!

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