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Sunday, 23 June 2013 18:30

A Beer Drinker's Guide to Knowing and Enjoying Fine Wine

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A Beer Drinker's Guide to Knowing and Enjoying Fine Wine

by Jim Laughren, CWE


Crosstown Publishing 2012

ISBN 978-0-9855336-1-8

203 pages, soft cover, $16.95


The best teachers are always the ones secure enough in their knowledge that they convey the message in simple and un-pedantic style. Such is the case with Jim Laughren. Obviously deeply knowledgeable about wine (he's a Certified Wine Educator), Laughren is similarly familiar with beer.

It's surprising that so many of today's craft beer devotees are clueless when it comes to wine. After all, both beer and wine are fermented beverages and have been around for a long, long time. Maybe searching for the latest variations on the pervasive India Pale Ale theme doesn't leave room for exploring other drinks. If so, that's unfortunate because in discovering wine, these beer drinkers might be doubling their pleasures. A Beer Drinker's Guide to Fine Wine makes the case for doing just that.

In early chapters, Laughren explains similarities of the brewing and vinification processes, the physiology of tasting and the steps taken to analyze a wine. He also makes sense of some of the arcane winespeak, or argot of the “wine geek.” Beer drinkers who chat about IBUs and ABVs (International Bittering Units and Alcohol by Volume) shouldn't find daunting their vinous counterparts' discussions of degrees Brix at harvest (a measure of sugar or ripeness) or the different French oaks used in barrel construction. Knowing the jargon may help one understand a subject, a good thing if it leads to enjoyment of it. Laughren also takes his readers through a world tour of wine producing regions, providing helpful background additional to the geography lesson.

Throughout, Jim Laughren conveys a lot of basic (and not so basic) information and does it in a straight-forward and good humored manner. A Beer Drinker's Guide to Knowing and Enjoying Fine Wines is a product of substantial scholarship. It does a great job of explaining wine in clean and simple fashion. And it's fun to read.


Reviewer Dan Clarke was fortunate to be introduced to the pleasures of both beer and wine in childhood (sips from Dad's paper cup at a ball game and Wente Grey Riesling with Mom's oven-fried chicken). 

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