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When I received a copy of the book “Buy the Right Wine Every Time” to review, a quick leaf through it and I thought, no problem, it’s just a grouping of writer Tom Stevenson’s wine picks, and immediately discounted it.  Why?  Because wine books telling you what to buy are dated pretty much as soon as they are published, as the vintage year they reviewed may either be 1. No longer available or 2. Not the vintage year that was just released that people want to know about.

Neither was the case with Stevenson’s book as he, as stated on page V of the forward, only selected “branded” wines to focus on as “A Branded wine should be consistent by definition.”  That made me think of a couple of wines that I’ve bought consistently through the years as the winemaker has found a way to nearly duplicate the taste no matter what happened in the fields.  I quickly thumbed through the edition and found what I was thinking of: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (page 149) for one and an early starter wine for me, Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay (page 103).

I decided to read the book as leafing would not do.  Some general observations right off that bat were that I dug are the photographed color labels to help people recognize a wine quickly, color-coded headings like pale green for some whites and red for reds, and the wines were listed alphabetically by winery name.

Then, as you read, you will find that Stevenson has detailed each of his selections with further facts.  For every single wine he includes four subheadings: “What is it?”  “What does it taste like?”  “If you like this then try with confidence…”  and “Try something completely different.”

I liked this section as every single wine has a little information – such as what grapes were used, a description of the wine, what growing area and/or how much time in oak,   what it will taste like, and others you would like if you like this wine, etc.

At the end of the book is a short section called, “The 20 most useful wine tips.”  Readers are told up front that it’s up to them to use this section – and only if they feel the need or interest in learning more.  The 20 facts are basic, logical and understandable.

My own conclusion, while I admit to buying the Kim Crawford this way I don’t buy my wine based on generic branding.  However, for the wine 101er, or someone that is limited to grocery stores, or on a tight wine budget – there is nothing wrong with the idea.  In fact, I kind of liked not only the simplicity, but the fact that this is not a wine book that will be obsolete any time soon.

More Info 

Plenty of people drink wine, but most people don’t think wine.  Many of us hate pretentious “winespeak”— but would love help finding new wines to try.   BUY THE RIGHT WINE EVERY TIME (Sterling Epicure, March 2014) by celebrated wine critic Tom Stevenson is the guidebook for everyone!  

Stevenson provides expert information for non-experts who want to get the most satisfaction for their money. Stevenson reveals the best, most widely available wines found in restaurants and wine shops globally.  He groups wines by cost, rates them by style (so you can see which ones are similar to your favorites), and provides an A-Z of recommended, highly recommended, and to-die-for choices. 

Stevenson also includes the 20 most useful wine tips, such as how to store wine, how to allow wine to breathe, how to choose wine glasses, how to order wine in a restaurant, and how to approach food and wine pairing – important advice for all wine drinkers! 

Tom Stevenson has been writing about wine for more than 30 years, and is considered the world's leading authority on Champagne. He has written 23 books, the most important of which have been published internationally by more than 50 publishers and translated into over 25 languages. 

Eve’s Wine 101 Event Picks: Earth Day Food and Wine Fest 4/12 USE PROMO CODE WINE101 FOR $15 OFF TICKET PRICE, Sierra Pelona Wine Fest 4/26, Taste of the Town 5/4, Cal Poly Pomona Southern California Tasting & Auction 5/4, California Wine & Jazz Fest  5/18, Pulchella tasting and lesson 5/18, LA Wine Fest is 5/31 and 6/1, Ojai Wine Fest 6/8, Wine in the Pines 6/14.

Eve Bushman is a local writer that specializes in writing about wine. You can find great articles by Eve on her blog at http://www.evewine101.com or email her at Eve@evewine101.com. Her commentaries represent her own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization she may affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon. You can follow Eve’s Wine 101 on Facebook and Twitter!