BOOK EXCERPT

Wine for Women

Get a taste of wine expert Leslie Sbrocco's female-friendly advice on buying, pairing, and sharing wine.

By , Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007, 4:15 PM

(Courtesy Harper Collins Publishers)

Introduction: Why a Wine Book for Women?

If you're reading this, my guess is you enjoy wine. Whether you indulge regularly or only occasionally, reaching for a glass is a welcome pleasure. From cocktail hour to the dinner table, wine signals celebration, recreation, and relaxation.

I think we can all agree, however, that wine can be a mystery. You know you like it, but often don't quite know why. Wine for Women is here to answer your questions and empower you to squeeze more enjoyment from each bottle you drink and dollar you spend.

Need help making smart buying decisions or just want to be more confident navigating a wine list? This book is for you. If you're a time-challenged cook who enjoys wine with meals, this book is also for you. Interested in creative, entertaining ideas to share wine with family and friends? You're in the right place.

Penned with passion for wine, my practical guide is ideal for busy women who love to eat and drink well. Depending upon what you want to learn, you can either skim for tips or dive for details. While I offer serious wine information, my book doesn't take itself too seriously. Remember, wine is fun!

Are "Men from Bordeaux and Women from Burgundy"?

You may be asking "Why a wine book for women?" Is the battle of the sexes now played out over dueling glasses of Chardonnay and Cabernet? Hardly. The point of this book is not to create a vinous male/female divide but rather to highlight wine information that is relevant to most women's daily lives. (Men reading this book--congrats for being secure enough with your feminine side to pick it up.)

As the majority of wine buyers and drinkers in this country, women comprise the largest slice of the enological pie. According to the non-profit Wine Market Council, women now account for nearly 64 percent of all wine consumers. "Women are very key to the future of the industry," says John Gillespie, the organization's president. I agree, which is why I've written this book.

The female skew shouldn't come as a surprise when you consider that women are generally the household shoppers. As national wine buyer for the retail chain Cost Plus World Markets, Mark Albrecht knows the power of the female consumer. "Eighty percent of our customers are women. I find they're very adventurous when it comes to wine and enjoy exploring bottles from all over the world."

A recent study conducted for California's Canyon Road Winery concluded that women are more involved with wine than men. Of the more than one thousand wine drinkers surveyed, more women than men drink wine at restaurants, by itself as a cocktail, and in celebratory situations. Wine for women is not a status symbol or a collector's item; it's about enjoying life with family and friends one bottle at a time.

What Women Want to Know: Buying, Pairing, and Sharing

During my career as a wine writer and speaker, I would often be approached by women who wanted to know more. The idea of a wine book for women crystallized in my mind but I needed to understand what, if anything, would make the female perspective on the subject unique.

After compiling research done by others and conducting my own interviews and surveys, I discovered the majority of women are less focused on wine ratings, vintage charts, and acquiring bottles.

Forget the notion that women sip white while men slurp red (women actually drink more red than white these days). It is not about what's in the bottle but how we approach what's in the bottle. Women tend to be interested in personal recommendations, food ideas, and helpful tips on finding wines that simply taste good.

As a result, you'll find chapters organized into sections I've called THE BIG THREE: BUYING, PAIRING, and SHARING. This is what we do with wine--head to the store and buy something to drink that night, take it home to serve with dinner, and uncork it with our family and friends.

Wine is an intimidating subject, but it doesn't have to be. When I first started learning about wine I as afraid to open my mouth if I couldn't correctly pronounce the name of a wine or region. But my desire to explore overtook any embarrassment and I simply asked lots of questions and pointed to the bottle I wanted. The wine doesn't care, right? Now, even when I can't say something perfectly, it doesn't matter. I buy it, try it, and remember it for the next time.

That's the beauty of wine information, which I think of as building blocks. Each time you learn something new, it's like placing one block on top of another. Over time, you build up layers of knowledge and confidence. If you walk away remembering just one thing each time you open this book or taste a new bottle, you've succeeded and so have I.

From the book WINE FOR WOMEN: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine by Leslie Sbrocco (lesliesbrocco.com). Copyright 2003 by Leslie Sbrocco. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow Cookbooks, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.