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Have a Glass: A Modern Guide to Wine
reviewed by Helen Hatton
 (December 16, 2003)

They're young, they're hip, they're well travelled and they are most definitely passionate and knowledgeable about wine. We're grannies, we're reasonably with it, we're well travelled and we've certainly been drinking and writing about wine and food since before they were born!

Getting together was inevitable. So about a week ago, Sheila Swerling-Puritt and Helen Hatton met up with Kenji Hodgson and James Nevison in a serious Toronto wine bar. We spent a delightful hour sipping a delicious Cremant getting to know this interesting duo who have just written Have a Glass: a Modern Guide to Wine.

For starts, it's a terrific wine book for almost everyone. For the uninitiated, Have a Glass is an easy-to-navigate, fun-to-read Wine 101. There are sections on corkscrews (yes, there are lots of choices!) and on how to pour and taste and an illustrated page on stemware shapes, i.e., what glass goes with what wine. We found the section "Navigating the Wine Menu" with its step-by-step ordering guide sensible and still fun. You won't get the fidgets the next time someone hands you the wine list and says, "Say, pick out a couple of good wines!"

You old salts out there – who could have written a wine guide yourselves – will also appreciate this book. It is an excellent review, matching contemporary food like sushi or nachos with the myriad of wines available today.

Kenji and James are two Vancouver guys who have honed the fun of travel and adventure into the very excellent business of getting people excited about drinking wine. Lots of wine. Over infectious grins, Kenji and James explain to us that they're courting the new wine drinker, showing them how to work wine into daily life, pairing it with food. Their hands-on wine education classes in British Columbia are wildly popular and HALFaGLASS wine tastings are becoming the stuff of legend.

We checked out their web site www.halfaglass.com and went straight to The Manifesto. We've paraphrased our favourites:

  • Drink with and open mind and open mouth and banish wine snobbery.
  • Swirl, sniff and sip with raucous fervour!
  • Don't be a spectator. The only way to learn about wine is to drink a glass. Then another.
  • Taste with your own tongue. A palate is as individual as a fingerprint, so don't let wine critics put their tongues in your mouth.

And their good news:

  • Quality is not proportional to price. There is a wine for every budget.

There's a whole lot more, but you'll want to get your own copy.

Have a Glass: A Modern Guide to Wine, by Kenji Hodgson and James Nevison, is published by Whitecap. $19.95 CDN.

 

 

 

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