Unofficial Guide to Selecting Wine

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There's a perfect wine for every occasion, but who knows which to pick from the many available? Rest assured, The Unofficial Guide to Selecting Wine walks you through how to choose between whites, reds, vintages, and countries of origin. Learn the finer points of tasting wine, reading the label on a bottle, and understanding a restaurant wine list. When you're ready to make a purchase, this book can show you how to avoid restaurant and wine merchant mark-ups as well as how to ...

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There's a perfect wine for every occasion, but who knows which to pick from the many available? Rest assured, The Unofficial Guide to Selecting Wine walks you through how to choose between whites, reds, vintages, and countries of origin. Learn the finer points of tasting wine, reading the label on a bottle, and understanding a restaurant wine list. When you're ready to make a purchase, this book can show you how to avoid restaurant and wine merchant mark-ups as well as how to buy wine online and at auctions.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028636689
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Series: Unofficial Guides Series , #13
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author Felicia M. Sherbert can tell you everything you need to know about selecting wine. Felicia is a journalist who has specialized in wine for more than 15 years. She wrote and edited the best-selling Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (Sterling Publishing Co., 1985) with wine director Kevin Zraly and recently completed a major revision of the book, the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course Millennium Edition (Sterling Publishing Co., 1999). Since the book's debut in 1985, it has sold more than one million copies, making it the top-selling wine book in the United States. Before launching her own company in 1997, Felicia was a senior editor at M. Shanken Communications, Inc., the publisher of Wine Spectator, Food Arts, and Market Watch, a magazine specializing in wine and spirits trends. She continues to contribute to these and other publications, she writes a regular column called "At the Bar," in Market Watch magazine, and she is a frequent guest speaker about wine, restaurant, and retail trends. Felicia also is a founding member of the International Food & Beverage Forum, a think tank composed of food and beverage professionals. When she is not writing, Felicia enjoys sharing a glass of wine with her husband, Frost Schroeder, playing with their two children, Alexandra and Teddy, and entertaining family and friends.

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Table of Contents

The Unofficial Guide Reader's Bill of Rights.

About the Author.

The Unofficial Guide Panel of Experts.


I. Wine for Every Occasion.

1. Wine—What Are You Saving It For?

Two Camps of Wine Savers.

Gauge the Mood.

"Old Faithful" Wines.

Wine with Food.

Wine and Food Pairing 101.

For Every Food Action There Is a Wine Reaction.

Casual Family Dinner.


Formal Dinner Party.

Dry Kosher Wines.

After-Dinner Options.

A Little Romance.

ABC Wines (Anything but Chardonnay).

Pick a Price Point.

What Makes a Wine So Expensive or So Cheap?

How You Can Find Value.

Just the Facts.

2. What's Your Style?

Red, White, or Rosé?

Sparkling Options.

Dry, Fruity, or Sweet?

Varietals Versus Blends.

Light-, Medium-, or Full-Bodied Wine.

Pick a Region.

The Label: Information or Information Overload?

Healthful Aspects of Wine.

Just the Facts.

3. How to Taste Wine.

Taste Sensations.





Umami: The New Taste Sensation.

Mouthfeel or Texture.

Revelations of Color.

The Five S's.






What Does Wine Taste Like?

Flavor Profiles of White Grapes.

Flavor Profiles of Red Grapes.

Expanding Your Wine Repertoire.

Just the Facts.

II. A Grass of White Wine, Please?

4. Classic French Whites.

Importance of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC).


Loire Valley.







Côte de Beaune.

Côte Châlonnaise.

Rhône Valley.

Just the Facts.

5. Noble German Whites.

Land of Riesling.

Strict Controls.


Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete.

Qualitätswein mit Prädikat.

Deciphering a Label.

Just the Facts.

6. American Whites.

Wine, Wine Everywhere.

American Viticultural Areas (AVAs)—American for AOC.


North Coast.

North Central Coast.

South Central Coast.

Central Valley.

Sierra Foothills.

Jug Wines.

Varietals, California Style.


Sauvignon Blanc.



Pinot Blanc.


California Vintages.

The Pacific Northwest.

Washington State.


New York State and Long Island.

Just the Facts.

7. Old- and New-World Whites.

La Moda Italia.

Spain Updates Its "Old-World" Ways.

Portugal Beyond Port.

White Wines from the Outback.

New South Wales.

South Australia.


Western Australia.

Increasing Importance of Australian Appellations.

White Varietals Down Under.

Australian Vintages.

New Zealand's Best.

South American Whites.


Chilean Joint Ventures.


South Africa.

Just the Facts.

III. Warming Up to Reds.

8. The French "Red" Standard.

The Return to Reds.

Red Burgundy Wines.


Côte d'Or.

Best of the Burgundies.

Côte Châlonnaise.


Official Classification of 1855.

Cru Bourgeois Values.

Classified Buying Strategy.

Top Graves.

The Best of Pomerol and St.-Émilion.

The Rhône Valley.

The Prestigious Northern Rhône.

Southern Rhône.

Values from Southern France.

Just the Facts.

9. U.S. Reds.

Easing into Reds, California Style.

Getting Your Arms Around California's Regions.

North Coast.

North Central Coast.

South Central Coast.

Central Valley.

Sierra Foothills.

Meritage Wines.

California Vintages.

Pacific Northwest.

Washington State.


New York State and Long Island.

Just the Facts.

10. Old- and New-World Reds.

From Italy with Love.

Quality Control, Italian Style.



Brunello di Montalcino.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciono.



Veneto: Land of Valpolicella, Bardolino, and Amarone.

Other Italian Reds.

Olé for Spanish Reds.

Historic Rioja.

Age Matters.

Ribera del Duero.


Portugal Sees Red.




South Africa.

Just the Facts.

IV. All Blush and Bubbles.

11. Rosé or Blush Wine.

How and Where Rosés Are Made.

Sutter Home's "Overnight" Success.

French Rosé.

Loire Valley.



Rhône Valley (Tavel).

Spanish Rosado.

Italian Rosato.

How to Select and Serve Pink Wines.

Just the Facts.

12. Sparkle Plenty.

Champagne Versus Sparkling Wine.

How Champagne Is Made.

What Determines Style?

How to Read a Champagne Label.

How to Select Champagne.

Sparkling Alternatives.

United States.




Storing and Serving Champagne.

How to Open Champagne and Sparkling Wine.

Just the Facts.

13. After-Dinner Delights.

Port from Oporto.

Wood Port.

Vintage Port.

How to Decant Port.

Port-Style Alternatives.

Sauternes and Barsac.

Other Dessert Wines from France.

Germany's Signature.

Late Harvest Wines from the United States.

Other Dessert Wine Options.

Australian "Stickies".

Italian Vin Santo.

Hungarian Tokay.

Just the Facts.

V. Buying and Ordering Wine.

14. Demystifying the Wine List.

A Note About Restaurant Markups.

Different Types of Wine Lists.

The Extended Wine List.

House Wine and Wines by the Glass.


How to Read a Wine List.

Wine Lists by Region Versus Varietal.

Progressive Wine Lists.

How to Order Wine.

Need Help Navigating the List?

Sommelier, Cellarmaster, or Server?

Flying Solo.

The Most Basic Wine List Survival Technique for Safety.

How the Wine Savvy Cut to the Chase.

Getting a Grip on the Wine Ritual.

When to Send Wine Back and How to Do It.

Just the Facts.

15. How to Find a Good Wine Merchant.

What to Look For in the Store and in the People.

Building a Relationship with Your Wine Merchant.

Returning Bad Bottles.

A Note About Retail Markups.

Buying Strategies.

Cheaper by the Dozen.

Wine Futures.

The Pros and Cons of Buying Direct.

How to Start a Wine Collection.

Buying at Auction.

Auction Strategies.

Special Tips for Selling at Auction.

Wine Auction Houses and Retailers.

Wine Advisers.

Just the Facts.

VI. Entertaining with Wine.

16. Crowd Pleasers.

Business Entertaining.

Business Protocol for Wine.

Price as a Consideration.

Dinner Party.


Banquets: Weddings, Anniversaries, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs.

Dealing with Banquet Directors.

Catering Wine Options.

Wine Service at Banquets.

What to Buy for an Event and How Much.

The Mechanics of Setting Up Wine Service at Home.

Entertaining Recipes.

Organizing a Wine-Tasting Party.

Just the Facts.

VII. How to Serve and Store Wine.

17. Essential Tools and Tricks.

Extracting the Cork.

Double-Winged Opener.

Waiter's Corkscrew.




Troubleshooting Cork Catastrophes.

Serving Temperature.

Proper Stemware.

How to Decant Wine.

Break Open the Bubbly.

How to Save Leftovers.


Private Preserve.


Le Verre de Vin.

Storing Wine at Home.

Just the Facts.

A. Glossary.

B. Resource Guide.

C. Recommended Reading.

D. Entertainment Wine Service Cheat Sheets.

E. Wine on the Web.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2011

    Good book for those new to wine drinking and purchasing.

    I thought we would read this book from cover to cover...but it actually is better used as a reference. I think we have read the whole thing...but just as we needed the sections. Very good reference for basic wine information...even though it is not a recent copyright.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2003

    All Help, No nonsense

    Here's a little-known truth about wine: When a person says 'I really wish I knew something about wine,' he's usually talking through his hat. He really means he wants to know 'How can I get, for a decent price, a bottle that I'll like and that won't embarrass me in front of my friends?' Who can blame him? When knowledgeable wine-lovers say 'there are no graduates from wine school,' they're not kidding. The subject is endless if--IF--what you want is to know about wine. For the enormous majority, the people who want only good drink at a good price, this book is a godsend. Felicia Sherbert has two secrets here. The first is that she doesn't bury you in wine-geekery. She does not drone on about rootstocks, degrees Brix and clonal selection; about residual sugar, cold fermentation and barrels of oak (American or French? Limousin or Alliers? Split or sawn? Kiln-dried or air -seasoned?). It's the wine-maker's job to deal with that stuff--not yours. Her next secret is a copious Table of Contents. Its minutely subdivided vastness allows you to get the help you need when you need it by simply sliding your finger down the page. Planning to woo with wine over dinner? Slide down the Table of Contents to 'A Little Romance.' Concerned about cost? See 'Pick a Price Point.' Don't know how to pull a cork? Worried that it might break? Slide, my friend, slide: Felicia knows you're in trouble and is waiting with the answers. How to decant? What glass to use? How to save the leftover half-bottle? Slide, slide, slide! After a few jaunts down the slippery slope you'll be a happier, braver person. Then you can go back to the Table of Contents and--if you wish--look for sections and subsections that pique your interest. Such as how much to buy for a party. Sweet wines for dessert. The difference between champagne and sparkling wine. How to deal with wine in a restaurant. And so on. And on. This is a handy, helpful, no-nonsense book. Like a puppy that follows you home from school, it wants to be your friend.--Bill Marsano has won a James Beard medal for wine and spirits writing and is the wine editor of Hemispheres, the magazine of United Airlines.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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