November 27 marked the publication of Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl's Drink This: Wine Made Simple (Ballantine Books). In it, the James Beard Award-winning senior editor at Minnesota Monthly (and also my ex-coworker here at City Pages) gives us some solid advice on how to purchase, drink, and entertain with wine. The tone is unpretentious, the advice actually usable, and it serves as a solid guide to enjoying wine rather than getting lost in the complicated culture surrounding it. Hallelujah.
"Why is wine more confusing than poker? More confusing than politics, rock and roll, Socrates, Moroccan cooking, or the stock market?"
This is an excellent question, and one that is asked and answered repeatedly throughout the book, which can be read in full, skimmed, or used as a reference. Chapters are neatly broken down into varieties of wine, from Syrahs to Tempranillo to Riesling to Zinfandel. Each section includes a definition, a reader question, a brief history on the variety, things to love about it, things to hate, a chat with an expert, and other bits-and-bats. If you're cramped for time, flip to the "Field Guide" section for tips on what to look for in stores at any price range (and what to avoid like the flu).
Other fun facts I learned while reading Drink This:
- It is perfectly acceptable to add an ice cube to a glass of wine that is served too warm.
- Some wines smell a little like cat piss. This is actually a good thing.
- Boxed wines aren't just for alcoholic grandmas anymore.