by Matt Walls

4 and a half stars

I enjoy a glass of wine. I’ve watched every episode of Oz and James. I know a teeny-tiny bit about it – a nodding acquaintance with grape varieties, wine growing areas and the like – enough to be more or less secure of getting what I’m after when I pick up a bottle at the supermarket. I am a very, very long way indeed from being any sort of expert. Drink Me’s blurb – don’t know how to spot the diamond bottles from the dross? …You just need to know where to look – suggested this was the book for the likes of me. Chapter 8: ‘How to tell what it will taste like by looking at the bottle’, pretty much confirmed it. Withnail’s quote on the very first page was just jam.

Matt Wall’s book doesn’t cover lighter fuel (it’s not a wine), but it does cover a multitude of the kinds of wine someone like me is likely to encounter in Morrison’s Tesco or Aldi. Part 1, Buying Tasting and Drinking, covers the basics. Part 2 goes into more detail on the ‘World’s most common wines’, with chapters on what you can expect in a wine from various countries, including all the usual suspects, and a few more unusual ones, like China, India and Japan. On page 77, there’s a very basic, really good table of grape varieties by country: A quick guide to countries and regions and what they do well. There’s more advice on tasting, more detail on regions and basic advice on how and where to buy a decent bottle of wine.

I love the cardboard cover, the look of this book and the feel of it, which is satisfyingly solid. It’s a refreshingly easy read. The detail is there, but tempered with anecdotes and plain good writing, it doesn’t overwhelm. Drink me it is simple without being simplistic, plainly written but never condescending or patronising.

Matt Walls has a blog – Practical tips, tricks and info to help you get the most out of wine – which is well worth checking out.