I supect this book has a specific target audience in mind given that there is a section called ‘blagging it’ and the Contents Page starts with a quote from Withnail and I (a film made for the ‘drinkalong’ game, apart from the lighter fuel). It’s part of the New Voices in Food Series from Quadrille which already has contributions from cooks like Alice Hart. I really like the design and feel of it; relaxed and inviting. It has an attractive (recycled?) cardboard cover which shouts out accessability and sustainability.
In the introduction Matt Walls (The Sampler) sets out his aim to write a ’concise book that covers all the things you really need to know in plain English’. On these terms this book is a clear success. Split into two parts; Part 1 is ‘Buying Tasting and Drinking ‘ (the basics), whilst part 2 is a bit of a catchall with ‘The World’s Most commmon Wines’, ‘The Old World’, ‘The New World’ and ‘Useful Stuff’. There is a nice section on ‘tasting and some really grounded advice on different places to buy wine (and what to avoid). It’s amusing and easy to skim read but has enough content to make it a useful reference guide.
There are a few less successful sections, which feel slightly ‘fillerish’, and the odd bit of Homer Simpson inspired advice. The ‘bottle opening in an emergency guide’ should carry a safety warning; the downsides to the ‘bang-it-on the-wall’ approach are listed as ‘your neighbours will hate you and your teeth will hurt’ but experience suggests this should read ‘if you bang too hard your mum’s wallpaper will end up looking avant garde and your hand will need micro surgery’… But these are minor asides and, in their own way, are the things that make the book unstuffy.
This is not a book for the established geek who will pick up on small details related to the geology of Sancerre but is spot on for a relative beginner who wants to develop their wine knowledge. Most suitable, perhaps, as a stocking filler for a son or daughter at university needing encouragement to ditch the vodka Redbull for a much more interesting tipple.
Walls, M. (2012) Drink Me! How to Choose, Taste and Enjoy Wine Quadrille Publishing £12.99