Wine All-in-One For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Book I: Understanding Wine

Book II: France: A Wine Superstar

Book III: Italy: Small but Mighty

Book IV: California and Elsewhere in North America

Book V: Australia and New Zealand: Powerhouses of the Southern Hemisphere

Book VI: And More Wine Regions!

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Book I: Understanding Wine

Chapter 1: From Vine to Bottle:The Hows and Wines

Surveying the Landscape: Wine Categories

Sorting wine by color

Categorizing by alcohol content and more

How Wine Happens

Discovering differences among grape varieties

Viticulture 101: Understanding what affects grape growth and development

Examining vinification: The making of wine

Visiting Wineries for a Firsthand Look

Chapter 2: Getting Familiar with Wine Tastes and Names

Savoring the Nuances in Taste among Grape Varieties

A primer on white grape varieties

A primer on red grape varieties

How Wines Get Their Names

Naming by grape

Naming by place

Naming in other, less common ways

Chapter 3: Buying Wine

Surveying Your Options of Wine Retailers, Large and Small

Supermarkets, superstores, and so on

Wine specialty shops

Choosing a Fabulous Wine Merchant

Evaluating selection and expertise

Considering customer service

Judging wine storage conditions

Shopping for the Perfect Bottle: Decoding Labels

First things first: Distinguishingbetween front and back

The mandatory content

Some optional label lingo

Getting Help from the Wine Merchant

Chapter 4: Getting the Cork Out (And All That Comes After): Serving Wine

Opening the Bottle

Clearing the way to the cork

Removing the cork from atypical bottle of vino

Releasing the bubbly: Leave the corkscrew behind!

To Aerate or Not to Aerate (Or, Does Wine Really Breathe?)

Considering the need for aeration

Removing sediment before aerating (if applicable)

Aerating wine for the right amount of time

Getting Temperature Right

Believe It or Not, Glasses Do Matter



Glass thickness

Washing your wine glasses

After the Party’s Over: Storing Leftover Wine

Chapter 5: For Slurps and Gurgles: Tasting and Describing Wine

Knowing What to Do Before You Sip

Starting with the eyes

Savoring the scent

Bringing the Tongue into the Act

Feeling the basic taste sensations

Working nose and mouth: The flavor dimension

Answering the Quality Question: What’s a Good Wine?

Evaluating the major characteristics

Decoding the critics’ numerical systems and developing your own

Keeping Track of Tastings

Taking notes when you taste

Finding your own descriptive style

Chapter 6: Pairing Food and Wine

How Wine and Food Work Together

Tannic wines

Sweet wines

Acidic wines

High-alcohol wines

Pairing for Complement or Contrast

Some Tried-and-True Pairings

Chapter 7: Ordering Wine When You’re Dining Out

How Restaurants Sell Wine

The story behind house wine

Premium pours

The (anything but) standard wine list

Special, or reserve, wine lists

Conquering the Wine List

Paying attention to your first impression: A primer on presentation

Knowing what information you’ll likely encounter

Surveying the list with an eye toward organization

Ordering the bottle you want

Asking for help selecting a wine

Handling the Wine Presentation Ritual

Chapter 8: The Urge to Own: Collecting Wine

Creating a Wine-Collecting Strategy

Planning for a balanced inventory

Selecting good wines for collecting

Getting the Wines You Want

Buying wines at auctions

Buying wine via catalog or Internet

Creating a Home for Your Wines

A wine cellar, most likely a do-it-yourself project

A portable wine cave, if space is limited

Keeping Track of Your Inventory

Book II: France: A Wine Superstar

Chapter 1: French Wine Today

Natural Talents: Climate and Soil

Climate ups and downs

The dirt on France’s old dirt

Time’s role in France’s wine

French Wine-Think: Understanding Terroir

The Variety of French Wine

The colors of France

Dry, sweet, and bubbly

Collectable to highly affordable

Regional characters

The grapes of France

France’s Wine Laws: The Opposite of Laissez-Faire

Privileged versus ordinary locales

Small is beautiful

Understanding a French Wine Label

Degrees of pedigree within the AOC ranks

The French wine label

Chapter 2: Exploring Bordeaux’s Range

Understanding What Makes Bordeaux a Wine Lover’s Heaven

Seeing (predominantly) red throughout Bordeaux

Recognizing red Bordeaux as a blend of grape varieties

The High-Rent Districts for Red Bordeaux

The Left Bank style

The Right Bank style

Classified Information: Ranking Red Bordeaux

The 1855 Classification

The Graves/Pessac-Léognan classification

The St.-Emilion classification

Trying Red Bordeaux on a Budget

Cru Bourgeois wines of the Médoc and Haut-Médoc

Petits châteaux and generics

Other Bordeaux districts

Drinking Red Bordeaux, the Right Way

Exploring the Range of White Bordeaux

Two white grapes — and neither is Chardonnay

Top producers of white Bordeaux

Drinking white Bordeaux

Sauternes and Barsac: Appealing to Your Sweet Tooth

Delving into the Sauternes wine district

Looking at the grape varieties that go into sweet Bordeaux wines

Breaking down Sauternes and Barsacs by quality and price

Recommending bargain dessert wines

Enjoying sweet Bordeaux

Chapter 3: Burgundy, Queen of France

The Where, Why, and What of Burgundy

A bit about Burgundy: Soil, grapes, and production scale

A complex quartet: Burgundy’s districts

The name game: Burgundy’s AOC system

Burgundy Royalty: Côte d’Or

The Côte d’Or wine villages

Côte d’Or wines in the market

Côte d’Or producers to buy

The Côte Chalonnaise: Affordable Burgundies

Côte Chalonnaise appellations

Côte Chalonnaise producers to look for

Chablis, from Chablis, France — A Distant Part of Burgundy

Chablis appellations

Good Chablis producers

Recommended Chablis vintages

Everyday Whites: The Mâcon

Mâcon’s appellations and wines

Mâcon producers to buy

Chapter 4: Beaujolais, the Fun Red

What Makes Beaujolais

The Beaujolais terroir

The Gamay grape

The winemaking technique

From Frivolous to Firm: An Overview of Beaujolais Wines

Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages

Beaujolais Nouveau

Cru Beaujolais

A Look at Beaujolais Producers and Prices

Chapter 5: Robust Rhône Reds and Unique Whites

Exploring the Rhône Valley: Two Regions in One

The continental North

The Mediterranean-like South

Narrowing the Lens on the Northern Rhône

Wide-ranging reds

Uncommon whites

Spotlighting the Southern Rhône


Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Côtes du Rhône

Côtes du Rhône-Villages



Lirac and Tavel

Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise and Rasteau

Chapter 6: Champagne: The World’s Greatest Sparkling Wine

The Skinny on This Supreme Bubbly

Zeroing in on the Champagne Region

Chalking success up to Champagne’s climate and soil

Recognizing the grape varieties used in Champagne

Mapping the four grape-growing districts

Surveying Champagne Styles

Translating years and quality into Champagnespeak

Highlighting the nontraditional Champagnes

Categorizing Champagne from dry to sweet

Selecting a Bottle of Bubbly: Knowing Producers and Their Styles

Matching the houses and their styles

Figuring out the styles of the best grower-producer Champagnes

Chapter 7: Other Wine Regions of France

Alsace: Location, Location, Location

Surveying the grapes of Alsace

Examining the region’s range of wines

Appreciating Alsace’s wine gems

Highlighting top Alsace producers

Touring the Loire Valley and Its Unique Wines

The Upper Loire: Sauvignon Blanc’s spiritual home

The Central Loire: A duo of diverse districts

The Western Loire: Makers of Muscadet

Discovering Wines from the South of France

Languedoc-Roussillon: The mother wine region of France

Provence: The beautiful home to eight AOC zones

Book III: Italy: Small but Mighty

Chapter 1: The Big Picture of Italian Wine

Diverse Conditions, Diverse Wines

Getting the lay of the wine land

Describing modern Italian wine styles

Exploring the reds, the whites, and beyond

Italy’s Curious Grape Varieties

Unveiling the native talents

Checking out the immigrants and migrants

Meeting Italy’s Major Grapes

Reds aplenty

Overachieving whites

Grasping an Italian Wine Label

The name game

Putting faith in the DOC

More label lingo

Chapter 2: Perusing Piedmont’s Wines

Drinking In the Majesty of Piedmont

The wines of Piedmont

The grapes of Piedmont

Sampling the Wines of the Alba Area



Barbera, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo of Alba

Roero and Roero Arneis

Five other Alba DOCs

Exploring the Wines of Southeastern Piedmont


Barbera d’Asti

Other varietal wines


Other wines of Piedmont’s southeast

Getting to Know Northern Piedmont’s Various Offerings

Carema and Caluso

Vercelli and Novara hills wines

Other Piedmont Wines

Chapter 3: Finding Sparkling Wines and More in North-Central Italy

Lombardy Has It All

The Valtellina: Nebbiolo’s most austere face

Oltrepó Pavese: Sparkling wines and more

Franciacorta: Sparklers with style

Lake Garda: Fresh lake wines

Emilia-Romagna: One Region, Two Identities

Emilia’s beloved Lambrusco wines

The hillside wines of Emilia

The wines of Romagna

Chapter 4: Northeastern Italy: Where Whites Rule

Trentino-Alto Adige: One Region, Two Cultures

Introducing the wines of Trentino

Getting to know the wines of Alto Adige

The Veneto: Verona to Venice

Tasting Verona’s major wines

Sampling the wines of the Central Hills

Exploring the wine offerings on all sides of Venice

Friuli-Venezia Giulia: The Great White Way

The wines of Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli

The wines of Isonzo and Carso

Other Friuli DOC wines

Chapter 5: Tuscany: Checking Out Chianti and Other Tuscan Reds

Taking In the Big Picture of Tuscany

Exploring the Land of Chianti

The range of Chianti wines

Chianti Classico


Pomino, San Gimignano, and other Chianti neighbors

Monumental Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino

Rosso di Montalcino


The “Noble Wine” of Montepulciano

Tuscany’s “Hot” Coast


Val di Cornia


Super-Tuscan Wines — The Winds of Change

Chapter 6: Getting Acquainted with Central Italy’s Wines

Umbria: The Inland Region



Sagrantino di Montefalco

Recommended Umbrian wineries

Marche on the Adriatic

Tasting Verdicchio

Sampling Rosso Cònero and Rosso Piceno

Suggesting some Marche wine producers

Mountainous Abruzzo

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo


Abruzzo wine producers worth supporting

Latium: Rome’s Region

The hills south of Rome

The hillsides and coastal regions of northern Latium

Latium’s southern coast

The Ciociaria hills of southeastern Latium

Latium’s top wine producers

Chapter 7: Southern Italy: “The Land of Wine”

Campania: Revival Begins

Meeting the wines of Avellino

Checking out wines of the coastal hills and islands around Naples

Sampling in southern Campania’s two DOC zones

Scoping out the most established zones of Campania’s northern hills

Listing the Campania producers to know

Puglia: Italy’s Wine Barrel

The Salento Peninsula

The Trulli district

Central Puglia

The northern plains

Recommended Puglia producers

Mountainous Basilicata

Rugged Calabria

Chapter 8: Sicily and Sardinia: Focusing on Quality

Sicily Leaves the Past Behind

Marsala, far from “just cooking wine”

Sicilian dry (though sometimes sweet) wines

Sweet DOCs in Sicily

A Sicilian wine shopping list

Sardinia Stands Alone

Sardinia’s regionwide DOC wines

The copious wines of Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital

Other Sardinian wines

Sardinian producers to watch for

Book IV: California and Elsewhere in North America

Chapter 1: Introducing California Wines

Covering the Bases in Wine Production

The color and type spectrums

The wallet spectrum

The packaging spectrum

Leading the Market in Popularity

Golden Resources in the Golden State

California climate

Soil matters

The human factor

Chapter 2: California’s Major Wine Regions: An Overview

Location Matters

Napa Valley: Wine Country’s Hollywood

Mapping Napa Valley

Discovering Napa’s key wines

Sonoma County: Hardly an Also-ran!

An idyllic wine region

Sonoma’s signatures: Pinot Noir and Zinfandel

Sonoma’s wines: Something for everyone

More Key Wine Regions

Up the North Coast to Mendocino and Lake Counties

Down the Central Coast

Southern California

Inward and upward

Chapter 3: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sparkling Wines

Chardonnay: The Wine that California Made Famous

The taste of California Chardonnay

For richer or for value

Where Chardonnay Grows in California

Cool, coastal, classic regions

Warm regions for everyday Chardonnays

Recommending Top Chardonnay Producers

Sauvignon Blanc: Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride

Three styles of California Sauvignon Blanc

Taste trumps price

Regions for Sauvignon Blanc

Napa originals

Sonoma takes on Sauvignon

Top Sauvignon Blancs from other regions

Names to Trust in Sauvignon Blanc

Presenting California’s Sparkling Wines

Characterizing California bubbly

Looking at the French- and California-owned brands

Recommending some of California’s sparkling wines

Chapter 4: California’s Standout Red Wines

Hailing the California Cab, a World-Class Red

Tasting California Cabernet

Making a California original from a Bordeaux grape

Listing favorite Cabernets

Noting other California Cabernets

Merlot, Sometimes a Contender

Merlot’s up, down, and Sideways reputation

The taste of California Merlot

Regions that excel with Merlot

The Secret’s in the Bordeaux Blend

Combining strengths

Selecting key brands of Bordeaux-style blends

Zinfandel: Big, Bold, and Berry

Surveying the spectrum of Zin styles

Venturing into Zinfandel country

Recommending California’s best Zins

California Pinot Noir: From Obscurity to Overnight Fame

The general style

Local styles

California’s Pinot Noir regions

Chapter 5: Major Wine Regions in the Rest of North America

Ocean-Influenced Oregon

A tale of two Pinots

Who’s who in Willamette Valley

Two other Oregon wine regions

The United States’ Second-Largest Wine Producer: Washington State

The grapes that thrive and the wines they make

Washington’s wine regions

New York, America’s Unsung Wine Hero

Revealing the key wine regions of the Empire State

Listing the best of New York’s wineries

Oh, Canada

Ontario: Well-positioned for icewine

British Columbia: White wine is tops

Top Washington wine producers

Book V: Australia and New Zealand: Powerhouses of the Southern Hemisphere

Chapter 1: Australian and New Zealand Wines: A Success Story

Getting Acclimated in Australia and New Zealand

Meeting Growing Demand with Diverse Wines

Zoning Out: Australia’s Wine Regions

Breaking Up New Zealand

Decoding Australian and New Zealand Wine Labels

Chapter 2: New South Wales: Home to Established Wineries and Upstarts

Getting to Know the Hunter Valley and Its Wines

Taking stock of the Hunter’s top grape varieties

Sampling the best the Lower Hunter offers

Heading for Broke (Fordwich) wines

Discovering the wines of the Upper Hunter

Exploring the Wine Bounty of Mudgee

Noting Mudgee’s stylistic reds and shining whites

Checking out Mudgee’s top wineries

Shining the Spotlight on New South Wales’s Lesser-Known Wine Regions

Discovering more than oranges in Orange

Feeling the heat in Cowra

Growing grapes for others in Tumbarumba

Hightailing it to the Hilltops

Uncorking in Canberra

Chapter 3: Taking In the Diverse Range of Wines from Victoria and Tasmania

The Yarra Valley: First in the Region

Reviewing Yarra’s typical wine styles

Listing top picks from Coldstream

Presenting choice wines from Yarra Glen

Victoria’s Wine-Diverse Heartland: The Central Zone

Sipping the wines of Central Victoria

Introducing Goulburn Valley and its standout producers

Tasting the best of Bendigo

Hunting down quality in Heathcote

Producing a variety of varietals in the Central Victorian Mountain District

Traveling to Pyrenees in Victoria’s Wild, Wild West

Navigating Your Way through Northeast Victoria

Celebrating Northeast Victoria’s specialties

Rutherglen, land of full-bodied reds and fortified wines

King Valley, from the plains to the hills

Alpine Valley, going up and cooling down

Heating Up: The Northwest Region

Sampling the best from the northwest

Looking out over the Murray-Darling region’s landscape of vines

Down by the Sea: The Mornington Peninsula

Traveling down into Dromana

Rising up on Main Ridge

Centering on Red Hill South and Merricks

Meandering around Moorooduc

Macedon: Bubbling Up to Meet You

Tasmania: Wines of a Cool Climate

North coast novelties

East coast charmers

Hobart’s finest

Chapter 4: The Wine Regions of South and South West Australia

McLaren Vale: Reaping the Benefits of a Mediterranean Climate

Coriole wines to cellar and drink now

Top-notch Primo vino

Unique names from d’Arenberg

The best from town-based wineries

Well-priced wines from the Vale

Shiraz to stash from Clarendon

Big, Bold, and Brassy: The Barossa Valley

Charles Melton Wines

Elderton Wines

Leo Buring Wines


Penfolds Wines

Peter Lehmann Wines

Richmond Grove

Rockford Wines

St Hallett

Saltram Wines

Seppeltsfield Winery

Turkey Flat Vineyards

Wolf Blass Wines

Yalumba Winery

Small, Subdued, and Sassy Eden Valley

Henschke Wines


Mountadam Vineyards

Tin Shed Wines

Classy Clare Valley

Annie’s Lane

Grosset Wines

Knappstein Wines

Leasingham Wines

Taylors Wines

Tasting along the Limestone Coast

Picking the best grape varieties

Spending some time in Coonawarra

South West Australia: Beaches, Forests, and Sunshine

Cooling winds and varied soils in Margaret River and Geographe

Vigor in the Blackwood Valley

Cooling altitudes and rich soils in Pemberton and Manjimup

The grapes that Margaret River and her neighbors do best

Recommended producers of the South West zone

Chapter 5: New Zealand’s Islands and Their Wines

Discovering Diversity on New Zealand’s North Island

Finding good Chardonnay and Merlot in and around Auckland

Proudly producing white wines in Gisborne

Delving into Hawke’s Bay, east of the ranges

Checking out the rugged Wairarapa Region and its Pinot Noir

Liquid Distinction from New Zealand’s Cool South Island

Finding much to admire in Marlborough

Cooling off in Canterbury

Heading south to Otago

Book VI: And More Wine Regions!

Chapter 1: Intriguing Wines from Old Spain

Rioja Rules the Roost

Ribera del Duero: Drawing New Eyes and Palates to Spain

Mountainous Priorato and Its Rich Reds

Five Other Spanish Regions to Watch


Rías Baixas




Sherry: A Misunderstood Wine

Entering the Jerez triangle

Exploring the duality of Sherry: Fino and oloroso

Aging communally

Turning two into a dozen (at least)

Storing and serving Sherry

Recommending specific Sherries

Presenting Montilla: A Sherry look-alike

Chapter 2: Portugal: Port Wine and Beyond

Port: The Glory of Portugal

Home, home on the Douro

A Port style for every persuasion

Suggestions for storing and serving Port

Recommended Port producers

Portugal’s “Green” White: Vinho Verde

Noteworthy Portuguese Red Wines

Madeira: A Long-Lived Island Wine

Seeing how Madeira’s made

Enjoying the timeless taste of Madeira

Presenting the varieties that make Madeira

Chapter 3: Finding Little-Known Treasures in Greece

Glimpsing the Grapes of Greece

Introducing Greece’s Wine Regions and the Wines They Yield

Understanding the Naming Regulations of Greek Wines

Chapter 4: A Sampling of Wines from Germany, Austria, and Hungary

Germany: Europe’s Individualist

Riesling and its cohorts

Germany’s wine laws in a nutshell

The wine regions of Deutschland

Austria’s Exciting Whites (And Reds)

Hungary: A Promising Wine-Producing Nation

Chapter 5: From South America to South Africa: Rounding Out the Top Wine Nations

Chile Discovers Itself

Checking out Chile’s wine regions

Taking a closer look at Chilean taste and style

Argentina, a Major League Player

Meeting Mendoza and San Juan — and the grapes they favor

Naming Argentine producers worth knowing

Embarking on a South African Wine Safari

South Africa’s principal wine regions

Steen, Pinotage, and company

Wine All-in-One For Dummies®

by Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Maryann Egan, Tony Aspler, and Barbara Leslie


About the Authors

Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan have written several For Dummies books on wine, including the bestselling Wine For Dummies and two of their favorites, French Wine For Dummies and Italian Wine For Dummies. They recently added California Wine For Dummies to their repertoire as well. They’ve taught hundreds of wine classes, visited nearly every wine region in the world, run five marathons, and raised 12 cats. Along the way, they’ve amassed more than half a century of wine experience between them.

Ed, a New Yorker, graduated from the City University of New York with a master’s degree in psychology. He taught high school English in another life, while working part time in wine shops to satisfy his passion for wine and to subsidize his growing wine cellar. In 1999, Ed went solo as author of Champagne For Dummies, a topic on which he’s especially expert. He’s contributing editor to Beverage Media, a trade publication.

Mary is president of International Wine Center, a New York City school for wine professionals and serious wine lovers. As U.S. director of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the world’s leading wine-education organization, she works to make the courses she offers in New York available in more parts of the United States. She’s also a freelance wine writer. Mary’s most impressive credential is that she was the first female Master of Wine (MW) in the United States and currently is one of only 26 MWs in the United States. (with 277 MWs worldwide). Both Ed and Mary are also columnists for the online wine magazine and are Certified Wine Educators.

Maryann Egan is the wine writer for donna hay magazine, a leading food magazine in Australia. She’s also the author of Australian and New Zealand Wine For Dummies. Maryann holds a degree in Oenology (more commonly known as wine science) and has worked at several wineries, including the Yarra Valley’s Wantirna Estate and Domaine Chandon’s Yarra Valley operation.

Tony Aspler is the most widely read wine writer in Canada. He’s recognized as the leading authority on Canadian wines and is the creator of the annual Air Ontario Wine Awards competition. Formerly the wine columnist for the Toronto Star, Tony coauthored Canadian Wine For Dummies and is the author of many other books on wine and food.

Barbara Leslie is the former publisher of Winetidings, Canada’s oldest continually published wine magazine. Over the course of a 15-year career with the magazine, she did just about everything from tasting wine to writing and editing to typesetting and layout. Barbara is coauthor of Canadian Wine For Dummies.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Compilation Editor: Traci Cumbay

Project Editor: Kristin DeMint

Acquisitions Editor: Stacy Kennedy

Copy Editor: Jennifer Tebbe

Assistant Editor: Erin Calligan Mooney

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editor: Tyler Colman

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistants: Jennette ElNaggar, David Lutton

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photo: iStock

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Katherine Crocker

Layout and Graphics: Reuben W. Davis, Melissa K. Jester, Christine Williams

Proofreader: Leeann Harney

Indexer: Indexer: BIM Indexing & Proofreading Services

Special Help: Victoria M. Adang, Amanda M. Gillum

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Wine is easy to love: It tastes great, offers a fascinating range of flavors, and brings people together — at the dinner table and elsewhere. Everyone can enjoy wine, regardless of experience or budget.

Yet despite the pleasure it brings, wine can also be a source of anxiety. After all, you have to know strange names of grape varieties and foreign wine regions and be able to figure out whether to buy a $20 wine or an $8 wine that seem to be pretty much the same thing. You even need a special tool to open the bottle after you get it home!

All this complication surrounding wine will never go away, because wine is a very rich and complex field. But you don’t have to let the complication stand in your way. With the right attitude and a little understanding of what wine is, you can begin to buy and enjoy wine. (And if you decide that wine is fascinating, you can find out more and turn it into a wonderful hobby!) Wine All-in-One For Dummies exists to help you feel more comfortable around wine by providing you with some basic wine knowledge.

Ironically, what will really make you feel comfortable about wine is accepting the fact that you’ll never know it all — and that you’ve got plenty of company. You see, after you really get a handle on wine, you discover that no one knows everything there is to know about wine. There’s just too much information, and it’s always changing. And when you know that, you can just relax and enjoy the stuff!

About This Book

Here, within one bright yellow-and-black cover, is a wealth of wine information. But don’t let the book’s impressive heft intimidate you; everything on these pages is lighthearted and straightforward — easy to digest, even. (Excellent, perhaps, with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.)

Use this guide as a reference, opening it whenever you want to answer a question, revisit advice, or find recommendations for matching wine with a meal. The page you flip to is up to you; this isn’t a typical, read-from-cover-to-cover kind of book. It’s designed to be at the ready whenever you feel the urge to find out more about all things wine.

Please note that a book can’t provide the most up-to-date pricing (especially when its readers may be shopping anywhere from San Francisco to Tanzania), so you might find that the prices here vary from those you find in your local wine shop. Use the prices provided as a rough estimate; if a wine is included at about $20, you might find it for $15 or $25, but you probably won’t see it for sale for $100. Call your local wine merchant to find out exactly what a bottle is going for. The excellent Web site also can help nail down prices in any currency.

Conventions Used in This Book

Following are a few helpful conventions used throughout Wine All-in-One For Dummies:

check Italics are used to provide emphasis, highlight new words or terms being defined, indicate certain foreign or scientific words, and point out specific words or phrases on a wine label. They also indicate the stressed syllable in a pronunciation (if no syllable is italicized, all syllables carry equal weight).

check Monofont is used for Web addresses.

check Sidebars, which are shaded boxes of text, consist of information that’s interesting but not necessarily critical to your understanding of wine.

Foolish Assumptions

Before we put this book together, we had to make some assumptions about who you, its reader, might be. We assume that you

check Know very little about wine but have a strong desire to find out more.

check Know something about wine, perhaps more than most people, but want to understand the subject better, from the ground up.

check Are already very knowledgeable about wine but realize that you can always discover more.

check Don’t have a lot of ego invested in wine — or maybe you do and you’re buying this book “for your sister-in-law.”

check Are someone who prefers straight talk about wine over a lot of mumbo jumbo and jargon.

How This Book Is Organized

Wine All-in-One For Dummies is a wine user’s manual and a reference book, all in one. It includes very basic information about wine for readers who know nothing (or next to nothing) about wine, but it also features tips, suggestions, and more sophisticated information for seasoned wine drinkers who want to take their hobby to a more-advanced level. Here’s a quick guide to what you can find where.

Book I: Understanding Wine

This book is the grapevine, so to speak, of Wine All-in-One For Dummies. It’s raw material to the other chapters’ finished, delectable bottles. Here you find out about how grapes become wine, and you get all the practical information you need to confidently buy, serve, taste, and store wines that strike your fancy. You also get some guidance on pairing wine with food, a feat that can be delicious or disastrous depending on the combination you use.

Book II: France: A Wine Superstar

French wines are a vast and confusing field — especially for people who don’t speak French, who are accustomed to seeing wines named after grape varieties (which most French wines aren’t), and who live an ocean away from the regions where French wines grow. Book II breaks down these barriers for you, taking you region by region through France’s wine production.

Book III: Italy: Small but Mighty

Italy is one of, if not the, most exciting wine countries on earth. The quality of Italy’s wines has never been higher, and its range of wines has never been broader. Nor have more types of Italian wines ever been available outside of Italy. Although Italy’s wines are more desirable and more available than ever, they’re no more comprehensible. In fact, the proliferation of new wines and new wine zones has made Italian wine an even more confusing topic than it has always been. This book straightens all that out for you.

Book IV: California and Elsewhere in North America

You probably drink California wine already; wines from California are the top-selling wines in the United States. Could you find other wines from California — other grape varieties, other tastes — that you might enjoy even more than what you already know? Probably. And Book IV takes you through the greats of California, as well as wonderful wines from other areas of North America.

Book V: Australia and New Zealand: Powerhouses of the Southern Hemisphere

Australia and New Zealand have really started coming into their own, wine-wise; in fact, Australia now produces more wine than all but five other countries. Each year, the wines get better, and those at the lower end of the price spectrum continue to surprise critics; at the higher end, the wines just get more complex, subtle, and alluring. Turn to this book to glimpse the exciting wine regions of Australia and New Zealand, touring the dominant wine-production areas and getting recommendations for bargains, splurges, and more.

Book VI: And More Wine Regions!

Book VI presents a mix of Old World wine countries (such as Spain and Germany) and New World stunners (such as Chile and South Africa). Turn here to explore the beauty of classics such as Portuguese Port and German Riesling and the excitement of electrifying flavors such as Argentine Malbec and South African Pinotage.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout Wine All-in-One For Dummies, icons guide your eye to certain tidbits within the text. Here’s a rundown of the kind of information each icon highlights:

remember.eps Some issues in wine are so fundamental that they bear repeating. We mark the repetitions with this symbol.

snobalert.eps Wine snobs practice all sorts of affectations designed to make other wine drinkers feel inferior. But you won’t be intimidated by their snobbery if you see it for what it is. (And you can discover how to impersonate a wine snob!)

technicalstuff.eps This odd little guy is a bit like the 2-year-old who constantly insists on knowing “Why, Mommy, why?” But he knows that you may not have the same level of curiosity that he has. Where you see him, feel free to skip over the technical information that follows. Wine will still taste just as delicious.

tip.eps Advice and information that will make you a wiser wine drinker or buyer is marked by this bull’s-eye so you won’t miss it.

warning_bomb.eps There’s very little you can do in the course of moderate wine consumption that can land you in jail — but you could spoil an expensive bottle and sink into a deep depression over your loss. This symbol warns you about common pitfalls.

worththesearch.eps Unfortunately, some of the finest, most intriguing, most delicious wines are made in very small quantities. Usually, those wines cost more than wines made in large quantities — but that’s not the only problem. The real frustration is that those wines have very limited distribution, and you can’t always get your hands on a bottle, even if you’re willing to pay the price. Such wines appear next to this icon; here’s hoping that your search proves fruitful!

Where to Go from Here

Itching to find an earthy Zinfandel for dinner tonight? Book IV is here to help. Boning up on the great wine regions of France? Dig into Book II. If you’re hoping for help in choosing the most efficient corkscrew, Book I has what you need.

Start wherever you like. Wine All-in-One For Dummies is designed so you can jump to whichever section most interests you at whatever moment you pick it up. Of course, overachievers or the intensely curious are welcome to keep turning pages from here to the back cover.


Book I

Understanding Wine


In This Book . . .

This book gets you up and sipping even if you’ve never tasted wine in your life. In these chapters, you glimpse the behind-the-scenes action of winemaking, including why soil and climate are critical, and you get the information that prepares you to dive right into your first bottle (or case). You also get the goods on what wine labels really tell you, how to make sense of a restaurant wine list, and the best ways to make your wine-shop experience count. And, naturally, you find out about what to do with your wine after you buy it: how to store and serve it, and how to pair it with foods that make it sing.

Here are the contents of Book I at a glance:

Chapter 1: From Vine to Bottle: The Hows and Wines

Chapter 2: Getting Familiar with Wine Tastes and Names

Chapter 3: Buying Wine

Chapter 4: Getting the Cork Out (And All That Comes After): Serving Wine

Chapter 5: For Slurps and Gurgles: Tasting and Describing Wine

Chapter 6: Pairing Food and Wine

Chapter 7: Ordering Wine When You’re Dining Out

Chapter 8: The Urge to Own: Collecting Wine