Can a Scratch and Sniff Book Help You Become a Wine Expert?

Posted on: January 20th, 2014 by

scratch and sniff wine guide cover

Most wine books are so damn serious. Do you want to read a 500 page book on Bordeaux? One that’s hefty, ponderous, and staid? (Full disclosure: I probably would, but it’s what I do for a living. It’s like studying to be an engineer and having loads of non-sexy prerequisite texts. If you want to get to where you hope to be going, it comes with the territory.)

Thankfully, there is a fantastic book with the attention-grabbing title, The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert. (Yes, you read that right.) Written by Richard Betts, a Master Sommelier, it is the most welcoming and useful book for anyone interested in wine to start to understand a bigger picture of what they like and why–without the intimidation factor. I should also give huge credit to the charming illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton and the friendly art direction and design contributed by Crystal English Sacca.

The only thing more pleasurable than reading this “kid-style book about an adult topic” (seriously, it’s a laminated paper board book that’s only 22 pages long! If you spill your glass of Chateauneuf or juice box on your copy, just wipe it off!) is getting a chance to speak with the author himself. So stoked to let you know I was able to get Richard to be a guest on my Wine Without Worry podcast! So what did we discuss? So many things, starting with the book, naturally. We contemplate these questions:

  • Did people think he was insane for proposing a scratch and sniff book about wine? (Spoiler alert: yes.)
  • As well as being a Master Sommelier, is Richard now a Master Scratch and Sniffer?
  • White wine: underrated when it comes to complexity?
  • Richard’s also a winemaker. So what’s he got going on in California as well as Provence and Bordeaux?
  • Can we really go from talking about wine to mezcal? (Spoiler alert II: Richard is the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Sombra Mezcal.)
  • Is mezcal, like wine, able to express a sense of place?
  • Have you ever drank a margarita on the hill of Hermitage and decided to call your Bordeaux wine, “When Pigs Fly”?
  • Did Richard and I both spend a few years as Lumberjacks?

Enjoy the show!

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4 Responses

  1. [...] You’ll also find cappelini in brodo, which is a powerhouse of a hearty beef and pork broth. Right now I’m drinking some like it was black coffee. If this brodo had caffeine in it, I’d probably give up coffee. Can something smell rich? Because this broth does. Wish we had some kind of scratch and sniff blog technology. I can, however, recommend a scratch and sniff wine book. Seriously. It’s a 22-page paperboard book that is tailor-made for the wine curious who are intimidated by 500 page wine tomes. I highly recommend this book; you can read more about it and check out my podcast with the author on my blog. [...]

  2. Julia says:

    This is great! I had no idea this book existed until reading your piece, Jameson. Reviewed in style, as usual…nice article. I’ll need to watch the podcast. This book will be such a great gift for so many people I know! Cheers.

  3. Perry says:

    This is something I really love to learn. I’m glad you have this book introduced. I am such a huge wine lover. I even own a Wine Bar/Restaurant in Ketchum,Idaho. You should drop by there soon. :) The name of the restaurant is CavaCava Restaurant and Wine Bar.

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