"There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be any answer. There never has been any answer. That's the answer." It's wonderfully appropriate and telling that this Gertrude Stein quote appears in the pages of Wine Savvy, author Heidi Yorkshire's no-pressure, informative wine primer geared toward grape novitiates who want to build confidence in their taste, "without anyone's opinions or prejudices getting in the way."
Short-listed for the prestigious Julia Child Award for wine/spirits writing, Wine Savvy's 105 large-print pages, divided into 17 chapters, take the beginner through simple tasting exercises, taste-bud "training," even "swirling without spilling." And Yorkshire--who's a teacher, Bon Appetit and Wine Spectator contributor, and wine columnist for The [Portland] Oregonian--proves to be a great, low-key mentoring voice; this is someone who readily admits to barely being able to keep a straight face at her first wine tasting. The book's liberal use of quotes and advice from others in the wine trade is equally inspiring: one "expert" admits that, blindfolded, he couldn't tell the red wine from the white; regarding wine "ratings," another opines "only God knows the difference between an 86 and an 87." Although some information in this revised edition may already be a bit dated, tips such as the two questions that'll make the stuffy sommelier your pal give it lasting value. Wine novices couldn't do much better than having Heidi Yorkshire's book around to offer an encouraging paraphrase of Miss Stein: It'll be all right. There, there. --Tony Mason