It doesn't have to be this way. In his new handbook, WineWise, author and Culinary Institute of America professor Steven Kolpan delivers the specialized knowledge of the wine insider to anyone who needs a boost of confidence and know-how before selecting their next bottle of vino. At an upcoming book-signing in Woodstock, Kolpan will be on hand to dish out the books, along with a little bit of in-person wine advice.
Kolpan has made a career out of spreading the doctrine of wise wine appreciation. At the CIA, he instructs students in Wine Studies, a course that teaches students how to pair wines with food, market wines in culinary settings and understand how to assess wines based on their appearance, aroma/bouquet and taste. He also has shared this knowledge with the broader world, co-authoring Exploring Wine with fellow CIA professors Brian Smith and Michael Weiss. Another of his works, A Sense of Place, is a historical narrative that paints a picture of California's Niebaum-Coppola/Rubicon Winery.
In WineWise, Kolpan gives instruction to all wine-lovers, with a special concern for true novices. He guides his readers through the entire wine purchase, from planning a menu to toting home the long brown bag. He tells his readers how to read wine-bottle labels and identify their flavors, and he conveys the basics about the myriad grape varieties grown in wine-producing regions worldwide. Detailed maps, example annotated wine labels and hundreds of four-color photos provide plenty of visual details for more effective instruction.
One of the book's major purposes is to instill a sense of confidence in readers. It promotes trusting one's tastebuds over the words of supposed experts, but it also lays out a framework for readers to explore their preferences: It lists more than 650 wines that come in at under $15 per bottle.
At the signing, Kolpan will share his expertise and his passion. He invites participants to bring along questions, thoughts and bottles of wine needing deciphering. The signing is a program of Woodstock's locally owned bookstore, the Golden Notebook. It will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 11 on the second floor of Joshua's Restaurant, which is located on Tinker Street in Woodstock.
WineWise is published by Wiley; it is a hardcover book and retails for $29.95. To read some of Kolpan's thoughts on wine, check out his blog at stevenkolpanonwine.blogspot.com.