Drink Like a Lady

Women have been able to vote for more than 80 years, but apparently we only got our right to drink and understand wine last year, with the publication of Leslie Sbrocco's Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing, and Sharing Wine. Thank Venus—we were growing so tired of hibiscus and chamomile tea. In her text—which is swathed, properly, in a white and pink cover—Sbrocco delves into the gruff world of viticulture, which is no longer too complicated or too vile for our dainty nerves. She translates wine into a language we can understand: shopping. Under her welcome tutelage, building a wine cellar—a degraded, dank venture, surely better suited to the stronger sex—becomes, delightfully, "building a wardrobe." She explains the individual styles of grape varieties: chardonnay, the "basic black"; pinot gris, the "denim"; sauvignon blanc, the "crisp white shirt"; and sangiovese, the sleek "Italian heels." Of course, shopping is only the first step. A cultured woman needs to know what to pair with her new quaffable finery. Fear not, fragile femmes, Sbrocco's Design-a-Dinner concept is as easy as apple pie. Like your closet, wine-matching foods can be divided into "tops" (sauces, cheeses, veggies), "bottoms" (meats, pastas), and "accessories" (herbs, condiments, spices). And, when in doubt, says Sbrocco, match wines to food by color, pairing lighter golden and amber wines with dried apricots, figs, and soft cheeses; darker purple wines with chocolate and blue cheeses. Fun, see? Sbrocco goes into depth—not too deep, fair birds—on wines from various regions and grapes. One could follow her advice and choose, say, a cabernet sauvignon from the Napa Valley or a chardonnay from Sonoma County, or one could keep it simple and local: The women-owned and -operated Olympic Cellars Winery of Port Angeles has released its "Working Girl Wines" line, to "ease the crankiness and stress of a long day in panty hose and pumps." They make it easy, with only two wines to choose from: "Working Girl White," a chardonnay-riesling blend, and "Go Girl Red," a blend of merlot, lemberger, and "a handful of spicy treats." Both are as aromatic as a lingerie sachet and as easy to drink as lavender lemonade. Just take care not to overindulge—even a wine-swilling lady must keep her composure. Words on wine British publishing powerhouse Mitchell Beazley is issuing updated editions of some of the most useful reference books around for wine buffs looking to expand their horizons. David Peppercorn's Bordeaux, first published in 1982, faces the stiffest competition. There are a lot of books out there claiming to give an exhaustive evaluation of the world's most prestigious district. But by sticking to essentials, Peppercorn crams a lot of hard information into his 700-plus pages. Anthony Hanson's Burgundy, on the other hand, devotes almost 200 pages to introducing the arcane peculiarities of winemaking and selling in the region, rendering his book a must-have for people who want to buy Burgundy without getting burned. One problem with both books—$37.50 is a lot to pay for a paperback with a binding so fragile you're afraid to open it all the way. ROGER DOWNEY kmillbauer@seattleweekly.com

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