More than three decades after the title of Master Sommelier was established in 1977, only 211 individuals around the world have managed to earn the coveted designation.
One of them, Richard Betts, has applied his considerable knowledge of wine – obtaining an advanced diploma alone requires at least five years of experience in the wine industry – to enlighten non-professionals in the most accessible way possible. He has authored a unique book called The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert.
It is what it says. Betts wrote the guide with an interactive scratch-and-sniff element to help readers navigate the world of wine through smell. As he proclaims in the book: “Wine is a grocery, not a luxury.” He does away with the highfalutin language often found in wine guides to examine the essentials.
Betts points out that in wine tasting, all we actually taste are sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. “Everything else we experience comes from our sense of smell. And we can break that down into three specific areas that define all wines: fruit, earth and wood, oak in particular.”
Among the 16 scratch-and-sniff scent panels are answers to the difference between a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc, which red wines smell like red fruit or black fruit, and so on.
Thanks to quirky illustrations, the book is also a visual treat. Presenting a fun and fresh approach to wine appreciation, this book may prove intoxicating for both sophisticated aficionados and novice noses alike.