Released in August 2020, Which Wine When is the first book from Staffordshire-born sommelier and food and drink consultant Bert Blaize and chef, writer and marketer Claire Strickett.
At first glance it might seem like one of those novelty books a well-meaning but ultimately bamboozled relative buys for your birthday, which you thank them for profusely and never pick up again. But it is absolutely not one of those.
This is a true reference book and one that if you’re a regular wine drinker it would be wise to have within arm’s reach when you’re planning meals and doing the weekly shop online. It’s a springboard to being able to talk about the experience of drinking wine and understanding which wine to choose when, exactly as it says on the tin.
Which Wine When doesn’t just explain what to pair with venison or roast pheasant (although these bases are covered, of course). It has pairings for everything from chicken nuggets and cheese puffs to Chinese takeaway. And what’s more, Blaize and Strickett very clearly explain not only which wine will work best, but why each pairing works, following up with alternative suggestions under the heading ‘If you can’t get this, ask for…’ and a generic last resort under ‘If all else fails, ask for…’.
Picking the right wine to complement what you’re eating isn’t some dark and mysterious art with this book to hand – it’s as easy and natural as making spaghetti and meatballs and sitting down in front of Netflix. For which, incidentally, you’ll want a nice Chianti.
It’s written and structured in a way that’s accessible and genuinely useful. It feels long overdue, but the authors seem to be aiming to democratise wine in the same way that a new generation of young chefs have democratised fine dining. Self-consciously anti-snobbish and un-stuffy, the book has a sense of humour backed up by some serious knowledge and an abundantly clear passion for the grape.
It would make a great Christmas gift for someone who enjoys and is curious about wine but doesn’t take it (or themselves) too seriously. If it’s for someone really special to you, you could even consult the book before giving it alongside a bottle of something that will pair perfectly with their favourite meal. This is one they’ll enjoy reading through on a wintry afternoon and then referring back to for years to come.
Which Wine When by Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett (Ebury Press) is available to buy online and from all major booksellers.
Look out for our upcoming Sauce: The Podcast episode with Bert Blaize.