The whole wine world — fun book and graphics!

Okay, I’ve just decided what I want for Christmas. And you should ask for one, too.

It’s the The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That, a board book of all things (you know, the kind babies use — stiff, firm, and chew-proof?)  Perhaps the author knew that wine, uh, savorers, need a durable and relatively indestructible guide to wine knowledge that can withstand spills, drops, and doubling as a coaster.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A nose for making wine fun

The aforementioned (and very delightful) book is a guide to all things wine but without the snobbery often associated with wine. It’s less a book for the Frasier Cranes of the world and more for…uh, the Oscar Madisons? Hope that reference is not too obscure.

Well anyway, it’s actually a book for everyone because at a reasonable price (less than $14. from Amazon) you get an amazingly accessible and informative little gem of a book with an interactive twist — it’s a scratch and sniff board book! Remember those from your childhood? On one hand it’s a totally whimsical idea but on another hand it makes complete sense; to understand wine deeply, as an art if you will, you have to grasp the “nose,” and you have to look at color and play with the concepts associated with wine drinking.

And wine is an art.

Sure, you can get a drinkable bottle at a good price for an ordinary weeknight dinner and be well pleased. And that’s fine, that’s great.

But like all things in the food world — cultivation. flavor, taste, body, hue, presentation, process — learning more, knowing more, can impart even more pleasure. And what better way to do that than with a quirky illustrated guide that aims to teach but without all the pretense and hoo-ha!

Wine for everyone

As you can see from the graphic from the book used with this blog post, the illustration is very fun. They’re done by beloved artist Wendy Macnaughton with the same detail and flair that is her unique style.

The book, written by Master Sommelier and winemaker Richard Betts, really showcases his love of wine and his belief in wine “as a grocery and not a luxury.” In that he’s in good company with Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson who grew grapes, made wine, and felt we should all drink a bottle a day! (Of course wine had a lower ABV back then, but still!)

So if you’re looking for a gift for me, I mean for one of your wine-loving friends, I strongly recommend this fun and engaging “kids book for grownups.” I know it would be a hit and be pulled out long after its first viewing to be used again and again as a conversation piece and source of education.


— Mary Beth Harris, Proprietress, AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar

Mary Beth Harris About Mary Beth Harris

Mary Beth Harris is the proprietress of AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar. She's been in the restaurant business for 12 years and is the former owner of The Darjeeling Cafe.