Customer Reviews: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That
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on October 15, 2013
A scratch and sniff guide to wine? Really? It seemed like a silly concept at first. Then I thought about how many times I have heard other drinkers talking about what they smell in their glasses while I felt a little left out.

This book instantly made me smarter about wine. From identifying the range of fruits in the nose to understanding more about how the wood barrels and the dirt affect the scent, I learned so much.

In the back is a fold out map to the understand the smells of the entire wine world. You start in the middle and "sniff" your way out to the edge learning how to identify the types of wine you like most.

I love this book. Keeping it close by as I open more bottles and definitely picking up copies for friends. Highly recommend.
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on November 22, 2013
I've had other wine books before but frankly, they were so complicated I needed to pour myself a glass of wine just to keep reading. This funny, engaging and quick scratch and sniff book was fantastic. Who knew a Master Sommelier could (or would) use such a humorous format to share his passion to the masses of us who enjoy wine. This book is enjoyable even after a few drinks. It would be great at a get together with a few good bottles uncorked to educate yourselves with while your reading. Thanks Richard Betts!
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on October 26, 2013
I've been tasting--and drinking!--wine for decades. My friends tend to think of me as something of a connoisseur. But when I read descriptions like "undertones of rose petals beneath burnt shoe leather" I roll my eyes.

This book, on the other hand, oversimplifies, decomposing wine into a handful of aromas. I think that's a good starting point, and I applaud the author for cutting through the crap of wine puffery. But there is another level or two of subtlety beyond this book, and it won't make you an "expert".

In format it's a 22 page board book, much like you'd give a small child. But the text, as well as the subject, is grown up. It walks you through the basic categories of wine smells--the biggest components of taste--and lets you "scratch & sniff". As such, it's a great starting point for understanding wine.

What's peculiar is that while the author does noble service in cutting through the pretense that surrounds--and inflicts--wine tasting and wine descriptions, he feels the need to posture his brief, otherwise excellent, introduction as a guide that will make readers experts. In that, he's actually pretentious in attacking pretension.

If you are a beginner trying to understand what wine people are talking about, this book is a good starting point, as well as a good corrective to snobbery. But it's not an expert guide.
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on August 2, 2014
Most of the reviews have described this book as a great gift but I actually wanted it as learning tool. I am a newbie to the world of wine and I'm trying to improve my palate.

I don't mind that it looks like a child's pop-up book because the information is very good. For example, I didn't realize that only certain red-color fruits are found in red wines, that is, the author explains that you won't find lemon or pineapple in red wines. This is news to me because I thought any fruit aroma was game to appear in any wines. Narrowing the field for me helps, but this is where the author stops short! On the page where he talks about red wine, there is an illustration of the fruits and then the scratch and sniff thing, but not one mention of the fruits! There are illustrations of cherries and what looks like strawberries, but not one fruit is mentioned by name, even though the title of this section is "What fruit do you smell in red wine?" It would have been nice to be able to name some of the fruits.

By far the most disappointing part is the scratch and sniff. They were just too faint to get any sense of what I should be smelling. If the picture weren't there, you'd have little idea what you were smelling. With many of the illustrations in the book there are quarter-size, clear stickers on top that supposedly carries the aroma. At first I thought I was supposed to remove the stickers and the smell would be underneath, but I think there would have been instructions if that were true. Not every illustration has a sniffer. In all, these are the aromas that are available in this book: pear, mixed fruit, red fruit, black fruit, stone fruit, another pear, vanilla, dill, dirt, leather, bacon, butter, and grass. Towards the end Mr. Betts talks about, and there are illustrations for what to look for in faulty wine such as wet dog smell, burnt rubber and mold. Where are those sniffers? It's like teaching bad words in a foreign language class -- you need to know the bad stuff in order to recognize them when they occur.

I have a lot of respect for this area of expertise especially after I saw the documentary, "Somm". The information in this book is very clear and arranged in a way that makes the wine tasting journey not so vast and never-ending. Mr. Betts says that all wines fall into four main categories and the explanation of terroir is clear. I appreciate the different and big fonts, the colors and the illustrations. But I was actually a serious purchaser of this book for myself since my palate is so poor; I actually want to identify the gooseberries (inside book joke) someday. I've purchased other wine books of course and I'm taking an online CSW class (living in a very small Southern town, no wine tastings here!). I hope he comes out with a second edition!
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on October 29, 2013
I found out about this book through friends associated with the folks responsible for the book coming into existence. I started out doing the normal thing that friends do in supporting their creative projects and immediately realized that the book is of incredible value and exceptionally fun to boot. The idea of taking something as complex as wine and simplifying it into the format of a children's book for adults is amazing and the execution outstanding. A 21-page book teaches everyone how to understand the most important things about wine, where all of it comes from, and the nuances that train your palate to favor one kind over another (and what it means). This is a whole new generation of "for dummies" that really makes everyone into a knowledgeable wine expert in their own right in short order. Bravo!
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VINE VOICEon October 28, 2013
I'm not much of a wine person. I have found one or two bottles that I really like, but almost never seek wine out for any particular reason. I don't even remember the last time I actually bought a bottle of wine, much less a glass of wine at a restaurant.

That said, I knew I had to have this book when I saw it. I love the idea of taking complex subjects and breaking them down to their component parts, and this book certainly does that. The author, Richard Betts, has taken the 80/20 rule even further and condensed this subject down even further.

The book focuses on identifying the component smells in bottle of wine, where wine comes from, and what kind of wine you should seek out depending on your mood. In the 20 minutes it takes to read the book, I learned much more about wine than I ever knew I wanted to know.

The scratch and sniff stickers are hit and miss, mostly miss, but that's fine. It doesn't take away from the book at all in my opinion, and when they work its a nice touch. The poster that comes with the book is small, but very informative.

In short, get this book. Even if you don't drink wine, it will make you want to pick up a bottle or two and try again. Highly, highly recommended.
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on May 19, 2015
I like the concept of this book because it breaks down the basic theory of wine so easily and I had no idea what it was all about before I read this book and watched the documentary Somm. However, it is extremely short...and I could not smell any of the scents he was talking about in the scratch and sniff portion. I felt like the scratch and sniff parts all smelled the same or not at all...If the scents were very clear and distinct this book would be awesome...but since they aren't, it was not as educational as it could have been. I still learned something from the book though and am glad I got it.
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on October 15, 2013
Simply the finest "guide" I have ever read. Incredibly readable and educational which is difficult to attain. You will find this book to be delightful, and then you will find that you have actually learned that "wine is a grocery, not a luxury." My Holiday gift conundrums are no longer an issue.
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on January 1, 2014
Only faint orders on a couple of the scratch and sniff "buttons", nothing but scratched cardboard on most of them. And I'm with the previous reviewer: don't give this to someone who knows a lot about wine - I gave it to my husband for Christmas - think he'd have been insulted if he hadn't known my intentions were good.
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on November 26, 2013
Though the book is a bit gimmicky, it is good coffee-table fare, and actually a bit helpful for the wine neophyte. It is to be a gift, and I think its style makes for good giving with its whimsical illustrations.
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