Lettie Teague knows wine. She has been the wine editor at Food & Wine
magazine for almost a decade. The only question she is asked more than
"Can you recommend a great wine for under $10?" -- great cheap white:
Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino from Sardinia; great cheap red: Alamos
Malbec from Argentina -- is "What is the best way to learn about wine?"
years of fielding these questions, Lettie was determined to debunk the
myth that learning about wine is hard. She decided to find just one
wine idiot and teach him a few fundamentals -- how to order off a
restaurant wine list without fear, approach a wine merchant with
confidence, and perhaps even score a few points off a wine snob.
Enter her neighbor, good friend and complete wine neophyte Peter Travers, Rolling Stone magazine's longtime film critic.
Travers proved the perfect Eliza Doolittle to Lettie's Professor
Higgins. As a film critic he made bold pronouncements ("This movie
stinks," which could be readily translated to "This Cabernet tastes
like Merlot") and exhibited a finely tuned visual sense ("The
cinematography could be improved" could easily become "This wine is too
white"). But, most important, Peter knew almost nothing about wine.
Lettie begins their lessons, Peter puts down his ever-present glass of
"fatty" Chardonnay and learns that there is a huge world out there full
of all kinds of wine. He is taught to swirl his glass to release the
wine's aromatic compounds -- or esters -- above the rim and vows, "I'm
going to do that for Martin Scorsese next time I see him. I'll volatize
my esters for him."
Thus Lettie enlightens her wine-challenged
but film-savvy friend about the Facts of Wine: how to hold a glass; the
vocabulary of wine; how wine is made; how to read labels; how to tell
the difference between grape varieties; how to make sense of vintages;
how to glean information about a wine simply by looking at the shape
and color of the bottle; and an overview of the great wine regions of
the Old World and the New.
Finally, after many fact-filled,
hilarious lessons, Lettie takes Peter to the most famous American wine
region of all, Napa Valley, where he hobnobs with wine and Hollywood
royalty and finally puts his new skills to the test in the real world.
Part buddy movie, part serious wine tutorial, Educating Peter is as much a treat for oenophiles in on the joke as it is for beginners who think Chablis is a brand name of wine.
How I Taught a Famous Movie
Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can
Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert
by Lettie Teague