Building your wine wardrobe one sip at a time...
Updated: Apr 4
Have you ever struggled when buying wine in the store or at a restaurant? It can be intimidating. If you’re buying it for a meal, you need to consider how it will pair with the food. If you’re gifting it, you probably want to impress the recipient. It's not unlike how a woman can feel when buying clothes. You should have some idea of what you like and how much you can afford to pay. There are also trends to consider if you’re into trends. Will what you’re buying work with other pieces in your wardrobe?
Well, stress no more. One of my favorite wine books will nix any fear or pressure you feel when selecting wine.
It will have you laughing, taking copious notes, and feeling much more confident about wine buying, pairing, and sharing. The one downside is that it is notoriously hard to get your hands on a copy, but if you can, it will be worth it.
The book was written in 2003 by wine expert Leslie Sbrocco. It’s called “Wine for Women: A guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine.” It was her first book, and it won the coveted Georges Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year award.
There are hundreds of books about wine and some newer books dedicated to wine for women, but none that help women understand wine in a way that comes naturally to them. Leslie’s book focuses on a wine’s style profile, comparing it to the various items in a woman’s wardrobe.
Chardonnay or White Burgundy is the “basic black of white wine.” Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is the “denim of white wine.” Sauvignon Blanc is the “crisp white shirt of white wine.” And one of my favorite white wines, Viognier, is the “femme fatale of white wine,” along with its cousins, Chenin Blanc and Sémillon. You get the idea.
Each white wine is compared to an article of clothing, conjuring up the style of the wine. She follows that with a lesson on each varietal, a shopping guide, and food pairing tips.
She does the same for red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux are likened to a woman’s “classic suit.” Merlot is the equivalent of “cashmere.” Pinot Noir is like “seductive satin,” and Zinfandel is akin to a pair of skin-tight black “leather” pants. Not to be outdone, a good glass of Sangiovese or Chianti is like slipping into a pair of “sleek Italian heels.”
What woman can’t visualize these wonderful depictions? We know how we feel as we don a crisp white shirt with a well-worn pair of jeans, or how we feel wrapped in a cashmere shawl. As you sip Pinot Noir, think of the feel of satin sheets on the bed. Champagne is likened to “sequins and suede.” My new favorite wine is Provençal Rosé. Leslie compares it to summertime at the beach with shorts, a t-shirt, and a straw hat. Next time I pull the cork on a bottle, I expect to taste the sunshine.
I first read Leslie’s book while I was working at a winery and trying to better understand the different varietals and the regions they came from. Her approach helped me imagine the wines in an entirely new way and it opened my eyes to a better wine tasting experience. I became more adventurous as I worked to build my palate.
I told Leslie all of this when she joined me for dinner in Chicago many years ago. We met briefly again in Boston when I attended one of her seminars. The book remains a reference for me to this day. It is a great refresher course and lots of fun to dip into with a glass of your favorite wine.
Leslie has gone on to write other books and she regularly appears on television to help consumers demystify the world of wine. As I mentioned, the book is hard to find. I have been lucky with Amazon.
I also have a sealed copy of the book that I will raffle off for subscribers to my blog on March 20th. Leslie also offers signed copies for sale on her website. So, either way, you should be able to get your hands on a copy in time to start building your spring and summer wine wardrobes. Cheers!
Breaking: Congratulations to Lisa Ferguson of Massachusetts. She won our first subscriber raffle and will receive a signed copy of Leslie Sbrocco's book, Wine for Women. I facetimed Lisa with the news yesterday afternoon and she decided to celebrate with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (the crisp white shirt of wine). It was only fitting, because I caught her doing laundry...