New book a reference guide to British Columbia wine for sipsters

The accessible wine guide offers suggestions for the 50 best sips in BC.

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Sipster’s Pocket Guide to 50 BC Wines You Must Try

Luke whittall | TouchWood editions

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$ 20 | 144 pages


Luke Whittall wanted his latest book on wine to look like a refreshing conversation.

“I have worked in the wine industry for about 16 years and I realized that the way people talk about wine is very obtuse, like we are doctors trying to talk about something really technical, or it is silly in some way. . “Whittall says. “I wanted it to be a little more fun.”

The resulting read, The Sipster’s Pocket Guide to 50 Must-Try BC Wines, offers a carefully curated selection of wines from the province, along with an accessible and easily digestible explanation of what makes each a good drink.

“It’s not really traditional literature on wine,” Whittall explains of his third book. “This is an accessible way to learn about some incredible wines in British Columbia in a way that I have never experienced before.”

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Working in the Okanagan wine world played an important role in Whittall’s desire to create a guide that took the formality out of wine tasting.

“I’ve worked in wine bars where I’ve seen people say, ‘When you taste this wine, you will taste elderberries, white flowers and blueberries, wet penguins and road tar … you get all these things,'” Whittall says. . And then one of two things will happen. Or they will put their nose in the glass and smell something when in fact they don’t because it is very easy for salespeople to be very suggestive and guide a customer that way. Or, and I think this happens more often, they will feel stupid because they don’t smell it. “

The all-too-common situation, he says, leads people to doubt his wine-tasting skills, a skill set he claims many people have.

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“I think that really puts people off and that’s a shame because I think a lot of people are excellent tasters. In fact, I think most people are, ”says Whittall. “They just haven’t told them they can be.”

That strict approach to the tasting experience, he says, overlooks why most people open a bottle of wine in the first place.

“The reason a lot of people drink wine is for fun,” says Whittall.

While Whittall admits there is a lot of use for “laser-led tasting” that occurs in professional settings, such as during the Wine & Spirit Education Trust certification process, he says there is a time and place for “systemic tastings.” versus more accessible offers. .

“In the industry, we need to be able to do that. Chefs should be able to do that. For technical reasons, there are all kinds of reasons to do it, ”says Whittall. “But, for most people, they are their own wine experts. They just don’t know.

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“What I’m trying to do is make it okay for people to talk about wine in a language appropriate to them. And enjoy. Because, really, wine is about having a good time, and why not enjoy talking about it? “

The book, Whittall emphasizes, takes a non-judgmental approach to wine.

“It’s not really about saying, ‘This wine is great, you have to try it,’” he says. “It’s about being positive about everything that has to do with wine and enjoying it, without pooping anyone else.”

While writing the book, a project that took place entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, Whittall took a decidedly laid-back approach to tasting the wines of more than 50.

“I didn’t do this in a way that would be a typical wine review. When I opened these wines, I made food that went with them, or what I thought would go with them, and I just enjoyed it over dinner, ”Whittall explains. “It wasn’t like what a wine student would do or what people in the industry would do. In fact, I put these wines into a real life experience and then wrote about them immediately afterward. “

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The purpose of doing this, according to Whittall, was to experience each wine the way a reader would, that is, in their own home, with their own food rather than in the more controlled setting of a wine tasting room. . .

“When you are on a wine tour, you are excited, you are having a great time, you are on vacation, you are relaxed. You’re receptive to wine in a very different way than when you come home after working all day, and all you want to do is eat pizza, and that’s the bottle closest to your kitchen and you think, ‘Well, just have that. ‘”Says Whittall. “What I wanted to do was try to emulate, as closely as possible, the experiences that I felt that most people could be enjoying wine. And, for a lot of people, I think that’s taking it with a meal. “

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The resulting wine list includes several tried and true favorites, along with a few new releases as well.

“I had a little criteria when I was making my selection. He needed wines that he knew were quite consistent over the years. And I knew they were going to be consistently good, “says Whittall. “Then after that, I opted for wines that I felt showed really excellent quality, and were consistently good.

“There are some exceptions to that. There are some wineries that are quite new. “

Wine aficionados picking up the book will note that the vintages are not highlighted for each wine selection. The omission, Whittall says, was an essential element in keeping the guide accessible and timeless.

“In the wine industry, we have very interesting thoughts on age. We all think that wine improves with age, but no, it just changes. And, if you don’t like what it changes, then it’s no better, “says Whittall. “That is why I did not include the vintages. Even if a Volume 2 or Volume 3 is produced, Volume 1 will still be a useful reference.

“It is meant to be a little more universal in terms of wine.”

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