Jim Laughren, CWE
Crosstown Publishing (2018)
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (3/19)
In “50 Ways to Love Wine More – Adventures in Wine Appreciation,” each chapter explores another inventive way to treasure wine. It is readable from start to finish or by picking and choosing your way through the various subjects. What I like is that it isn’t stuffy or too serious, like many other wine guides that make you feel as if you are attending a formal wine course. Instead, the teachings are relevant for any wine drinker. Whether you partake regularly, rarely or socially on weekends, this book will entice you to explore. In fact, the author, Jim Laughren, goes to great lengths to keep this guide from becoming a boring textbook. For example, in order to teach about Champagne, its components and characteristics, he explains the exciting process of sabering the top off a bottle! And, to tempt you to explore wine pairings, Laughren’s lures his readers with the chapter heading, “Hot Dog and Italian Wine.” It’s a good book to keep on hand as its short chapters can be amusing topics of conversation when guests come to call.
Not knowing much about wine, I find this guide to be a nice introduction. It covers growing, production, many of the wine types, food pairings and how to go about tasting. Just in time for me, as I will be heading to Napa Valley soon for a day tour. This knowledge is sure to improve my experience! What gives the book more meaning is that it provides concepts not found in traditional wine guides – including global history, offerings for beer drinkers, ways to socialize and host wine events and many more topics. As a side note, Laughren has published another book entitled, “A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Knowing and Enjoying Fine Wine.”
Although the author is a Certified Wine Educator – accredited to teach about wines based on his knowledge and tasting ability – he is also an eloquent writer sharing descriptive terms that enhance the reading experience. I was pleasantly surprised how smooth the words flowed and, at times, felt as though I were reading an acclaimed piece of fiction: “There is an exhilaration one feels standing in a vineyard, a soft breeze sweeping down the hillside and through the rows, watching the canopies move and sway…” But, there are other times when the author is blatant in his remarks declaring that “…being a wine snob and tossing around terms and descriptors just to impress people makes you an ass…” I appreciate the honesty and enthusiasm that the author brings to his guide. As he recommends, getting to know the character of wine takes learning, experiencing and communing with it. There are plenty of photographs to complement the text. The wine rings, splatters and droplet graphics are another way that the author keeps the book true to life.
Jim Laughren’s book, “50 Ways to Love Wine More” is an ideal introduction to wine that covers the subject’s many facets. If you are already a connoisseur, think of it as a tool for reorienting your tastes. The guide contains some great ideas for sharing, pairing and varying your wine choices. You will definitely come to love wine more by learning its ancient history, social significance and how the world over enjoys it. Laughren’s book not only increases our ability to appreciate wine; it provides us with a greater desire to savor life.