If you are overwhelmed by the prospect of selecting a wine when confronted with a huge choice in the market place, Tom Stevenson’s book may offer you a viable solution. In Buy the Right Wine Every Time, Stevenson focuses on branded wines that are widely available and consistently good. A large variety of wines are included from champagne to chardonnay, malbec, and Gewürztraminer and from cheap to expensive.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part introduces the wines by grape variety; Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, etc. and are arranged according to recommended, highly recommended, and to die for. Each wine is also put into one of three price categories: under $10, $10-$25, and over $25. The author notes that in general the higher priced wines are more highly rated but there are some anomalies, where lower-priced wines have out-performed higher priced wines. These may be the true bargain wines!
The second part of the book, A-Z of Wines, makes up the bulk of the book and lists the wine by winery. It provides the essential information on the wine such as alcohol content, kind of grape, geographic location, and characteristics of taste. A picture of the label is included to make identification easier and recommendations for other wines is given. These recommendations include wines that have greater quality and greater intensity, greater quality less intensity, and wines that are completely different. The entries for each wine cover just enough information make the readers wine experience more enjoyable rather than overwhelm them with unwanted details.
The final part of the book presents twenty useful wine tips. It includes hints for pairing wine with food as well as a method for decanting wine and opening a wine bottle with string if a corkscrew is unavailable. After reading this section you will probably find that there is more to chilling wine or coping with sediments than you expected.
A unique characteristic of the book is that it deals only with branded wines. This means that you can depend on the taste year after year and not worry about vintage. And why not? For many wineries wine making has become a matter of chemistry. No matter what nature may do or not do to the grapes in a given year, the chemists, aka vintners, can make the wine taste “right”. Wine color can be darkened, tannins can be added, acidity can be softened. True, this kind is wine making is not traditional but it does lead to wines that are consistent and aimed at the current trends in taste preference. We all accept that Coke-a-Cola and Pepsi do this, well, so do many wineries?
Of course, such wine making practices are not to everyone’s taste. If you like artisan wines or wines made my small wineries dedicated to using natural and traditional methods of wine making, consistency can not be expected. Such wines are not included in this book and so the book will be of little use. For the vast majority of wine drinkers, however, the book is an easy way to find pleasing wines that are a good value for the money.