The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide: Buying, Pairing & Sharing For All
by Leslie Sbrocco
William Morrow, 339 pp., $14.95
Leslie Sbrocco was one of the big hits of the 2006 Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival. Seventy-five women and one man (me) watched as she delivered the goods on how to pick wines for specific budgets, tastes, and foods. Then, she ended by teaching all of the ladies her favorite drinking game, wherein each person counts off, but when they hit a multiple of seven, they have to say "shit!" loudly. Losers chug a little wine. As you can guess, things started getting animated as the crowd let loose. A curse-fest ensued when Leslie made them substitute another word for multiples of three, with everyone howling. In the back, a rather conservative-looking man stuck his head in, and hearing all the salty language, sternly asked, "What's going on here?" Everyone went dead quiet as they turned around to see whether he was one of their husbands, and then the place exploded with laughter.
The moment was pure Leslie. Her goal is to empower people, not to help make them better snobs. In her previous book, Wine for Women, as well as in her regular pieces in The San Francisco Chronicle, she aims to give her readers tools so they can decide for themselves what wines make sense.
In her new book, The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide, she takes the teaching a step further by offering ideas by moods, foods, seasons, and reasons. She covers everything from picnics and parties to the best belly-button-sipping wines for the sexy moments. Her food recommendations focus on the everyday things we eat: pizza, pasta, takeout, grilled meats. She offers holiday recommendations and what fits that special occasion. She not only offers good suggestions but gives you her reasoning. And miracles of miracles, she even includes some Texas wines!
The writing is never stuffy, always informative, and her recommendations are spot-on. Besides giving you a framework to take to your local wineshop (I need a big, peppery wine, please, perhaps from the Rhône or Australia), she also offers more than 1,000 wine recommendations, most of which are available right here in Austin. I see a lot of wine books for twice the price with half the value. Highly recommended.
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