Jennifer Simonetti-Byan, MW (Master of Wine). B&N Link, Amazon Link
Audience: anyone who regularly or occasionally enjoys wine and is interested in dipping a toe into the waters of wine appreciation. The One Minute Wine Master is easily approachable and non-threatening.
Structure: The book opens with some entertaining and surprisingly accurate wine-drinker profiles. Michelle, the "overwhelmed" wine drinker and Bob the "traditionalist" are just two of six personas that are described. These are a very entertaining way of starting out the book. They are funny, they are embarrassingly true, they are accurate. The importance of understanding what kind of a profile best fits you, owning that profile and then celebrating it is an important addition to wine literature. We're often told that it is OK to like what you like. But we're rarely taught how to understand and identify what we like as well as the opportunities and pitfalls that come along with our wine-style. It is an enlightening take on a zen-like wine drinker, know-thyself.The book then moves on to some of the wine tasting basics; outlining a cleverly alliterate and expanded take on swirl sniff taste.
Core: At the core of the book is the One Minute Wine Master Quiz. Readers take the quiz, score themselves and then read the lengthy interpretations, recommendations and wine profiles that they are most likely to enjoy. The quiz is easy to answer and easy to repeat. The results are broken down into flavor profiles named for the seasons of the year. Each season has a typical set of wines and varieties that members of that season will typically enjoy. The seasons are explained at length and contain examples of wines and brands that most consumers will be able to find locally without breaking the bank.
Criticism: The book was wonderful for me until I took the quiz and read "my" results. Like anything that is oversimplified, exceptions abound. I fall right into that exception category. No matter how many times I took the quiz or changed my answers, the results simply weren't indicating the kinds of wine I most enjoy. The reason is that the quiz and resulting flavor profiles assume something about the reader that is not clearly established up front: namely that the reader has a typical western diet. If you avoid caffeine, are a vegetarian, vegan or limit your dairy intake the quiz probably won't work for you.
Overall: Vegetarian diets notwithstanding, the book is a great gift idea for the wine drinker in your life who has a few favorites and would enjoy trying something different but not so different that it makes them cringe. Pick up a copy of The One Minute Wine Master. Flip through it. Take the quiz as if you were the recipient and then pick up a bottle in their flavor season. It would make a thoughtful treat!
Raise a glass.