Book Review: A Taste for Wine

By John ~ September 3rd, 2010.

What first attracted me to this book, A Taste for Wine: 20 key tastings to unlock your personal wine style by Vincent Gasnier, Master Sommelier, was the subtitle, because I believe there are many wine consumers who sort of know what they like in wine but haven’t equated it to a particular wine style.

“Wines are like cars! We all have our favorites; the one we drive every day and feel comfortable with—and the one we dream of owning. Like wines, cars have different styles; a Ferrari is fast, powerful, noisy, and brash (in an expensive way!); a Mercedes is also powerful, but smoother, more quiet and controlled. There are no rights and wrongs, only personal preferences, and, just as you would always test drive a car before buying it, you need to taste wines of many different styles to find your favorites.” –Vincent Gasnier

The guts of the book features Gasnier’s grouping of wine varietals by style and takes the reader on a tasting tour of what he considers the major wine styles. Gasnier has a chapter on each style, including light, crisp whites; juicy, aromatic whites; full, opulent whites; rosé; fruity, lively reds; ripe, smooth reds; rich, dense reds; sparkling wine; and sweet and fortified.

Rather than the usual country-by-country organization in this type of book, Gasnier sorted the wines into styles, with all of the juicy, aromatic whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Gruner Veltliner in one section and all of the ripe, smooth reds such as Merlot, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo in another section, and so on. For each varietal in each style, he gives what he calls his CAT mantra, a color, aroma, and taste profile along with a good quality example. And, finally, he offers a food pairing idea for each wine.

The last section of the book is a helpful User’s Guide, which includes chapters on buying and storing wine, serving wine, diagnosing faults, and matching wine styles with food. One caveat: Don’t get too hung up on individual producer wine recommendations because you might not be able to find them where you are located. However, you should be able to find similar examples of the style.

A Taste for Wine is a 350-page paperback book packed with good information. It’s probably not the best book for the complete wine novice. However, I believe it can be valuable to anyone from just above novice level to just below true wine expert. Unfortunately, the book appears to be out of print, but used copies are available at a very reasonable price through

Have you already read A Taste for Wine? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.


Filed under: General Wine Information, Wine Books

Reader's Comments

  1. Mike Veseth | September 3rd, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I thought the organization of this book was very interesting and gave me a lot to think about. I like the wine flights that the author designed to highlight particular properties of wine. I think a wine course build around these tasting would be very popular and informative.

    I only wish that the lists of suggested wines for each section could have been a bit deeper and more attuned to American market realities to make it easier to recreate the tastings he describes.

  2. John | September 3rd, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to give your insight on this book. If I read it correctly, we’re pretty much on the same page.