Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Wine for Normal People

Are you a wine expert? Or are you like me, a person who doesn't know much about wine, but wishes she did?

I happily received Wine for Normal People by Elizabeth Schneider for Christmas. The subtitle tells it all: A Guide for Real People Who Like Wine, But Not the Snobbery That Goes With It.

The first thing I learned is that there is a process to tasting wine: 

See. Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Size up.

I come from the learn-by-doing school. Maybe it would help if I tried out the steps.

I'll start with Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel. This is how little I know about wine: Is this a wine glass? Not sure. 

Author Elizabeth Schneider, described on the cover as a "Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, MBA, Normal Person," cautions us not to fill the glass too full. Okay. That is probably the first thing I've always done wrong. I thought you filled a glass with wine like you do Coca-Cola. 

The first step is to see the wine. Schneider tells us not to hold the glass up to the light; instead, set the glass on a white table and look at the color. To help us, she provides a Basic Wine Color Descriptions chart. Hmmm...I'd say this one is Purple/Black.

The next step is to swirl the wine. Give it a good swirling, she urges us. Swirl for 10-15 seconds. 

Okay. Did that. Properly swirled. Now it's the trickiest step of all...sniff. She offers four basic categories to think about when you are smelling wine: fruity stuff, herbs and spices, outdoor smells, and additions from the winemaker.

Here we go. Smelling the wine...fruity, definitely. Maybe a bit of grassiness...and a little earthiness...

How's that?

And now, the big moment...sip. There are three phases wine people talk about when they are tasting: the attack, the first impression; the mid-palate, the taste after holding the wine in the mouth for a moment; and the finish, the lasting flavors in your mouth after the swallow.

And voilà! It's time for the sizing up. Schneider encourages us to look at the four main structure components of a wine: acid, tannin, alcohol, and sugar. Here she goes through several pages to explain complexity, insipid, flabby, extracted, dry, cloying, legs, hot, big, and more. I'll just say it's refreshingly acidic, dry, with an earthy taste...

Whew! And that's all in Chapter 1...Do I have a lot to learn?!

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative! It was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion and is now hosted at Elza Reads.

Weekend Cooking was created by Beth Fish Reads and is now hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker). It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


  1. Wine can be such a journey as they taste so different and some are different from year to year depending on growing conditions & climate. I love a Malbec or Beaujolais.


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