How to Become Wine Smart in A Day

Calling all wanna-be wine tasters: now there's an easy, snob-free, way to learn about all things wine.


Terrorized by terroir? Mystified by malolactic fermentation? Don’t know Gewürztraminer from Grenache?

If so, Andy Hyman is your guy. The Sonoma resident is a tour bus driver for Platypus Tours, which offers winery excursions in Sonoma and Napa Valley. He’s heard all the questions neophytes have about how wine is made, how to sniff and taste, how chocolate and vanilla get into Cabernet Sauvignon, and which wines pair well with particular foods.

Then he did something about it. With the help of his wife, Marla Rosner, Hyman wrote, edited and self-published the book, “Snob Free Wine Tasting Companion: Wine Smart in a Day!”, an accessible guide that helps wanna-be wine tasters speak the language. A thoughtful holiday gift for aspiring oenophiles, it won a Pinnacle Award from the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs earlier this year.

Andy Hyman, author of "Snob Free Wine Tasting Companion" and tour guide for Platypus Tours Ltd. at Loxton Cellars on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 in Glen Ellen, California . (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
Andy Hyman, author of “Snob Free Wine Tasting Companion” and tour guide for Platypus Tours Ltd. at Loxton Cellars in Glen Ellen, California. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)

“When I was out at the wineries, I saw nothing for the beginner,” Hyman said. “I wanted a primer for people who want to get a better understanding of wine … but not come off as being snobs.”

It’s packed with pithy facts and figures, and chapters address such topics as the growth cycle of a grapevine, the role of oak barrels in winemaking, and advice on matching food and wine.

And just like a bottle of wine, Hyman’s book can be consumed in a few hours.

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