I don’t know much about wine, but I know what I like…

Hmm, two things. Hate to contradict you, but you probably know more than you think about wine. You may not know the natural colour of the hair, age and favourite chocolate bar of the impossibly young-looking winemakeress who produces Château Blotto Grand Cru in that tiny village in Switzerland which is also renowned for cuckoo clocks and yodelling (ginger, 43, Suchard Milk, FYI). However, you probably know that the Cabernet Sauvignon makes red wines, while Chardonnay makes white. You probably know that a brawny Australian Shiraz is a better accompaniment to a barbecue than a bottle of port. And you can probably spot your favourite wine on a shop shelf from forty paces without much difficulty – especially if it’s on special offer.

And then there’s the ‘…but I know what I like’ bit. Again, I’m not convinced. Do you like Pacherenc de Vic Bilh? What about Jerepigo? Or Bomballerina Bianco? OK, I made that last one up, but the others exist. I’m not trying to be a smartarse. There are hundreds of thousands of different wines produced around the world each year, and even the most enthusiastic and dedicated of professional wine tasters (tough job, but, as they say…) can only sample a fraction of them. It’s a struggle to keep on top of every part of the wine world. For normal folk, as in those who don’t spend all day spitting into a bucket, it’s nigh on impossible. It’s no surprise that many people revert to two or three tried and tested old favourites, or whatever is in the bargain bin that week.

No surprise, maybe, but a dreadful shame. For me, one of the most exciting things about wine is its sheer diversity. Just as we don’t listen to the same music all the time, or wear the same clothes every day (unless you’re a Goth), or have pizza with chips for every meal, so we shouldn’t settle for the same tried and tested wines every time we’re confronted with a row of bottles. It’s time to experiment, to get cocky with the corkscrew. The world of wine has far more to offer than Cab and Chard. Some wines are thoroughly splendid, some are decidedly not. The aim of this book is to guide you away from the latter and towards the former.

Maybe the title of the book should have been, ‘I know a little about wine, and I’d like to find out some more.’ If that’s you, then grab a glass and read on…

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