• Choosing the perfect wine is easier than you think. (Getty)Source: Getty
Flavour and smell have little to do with it, apparently.
Mariam Digges

17 Aug 2017 - 12:58 PM  UPDATED 15 Nov 2018 - 9:51 AM

If you’ve ever sat at a table and been tasked with ordering the wine, you may have experienced a sudden urge to run for the door. Ordering wine for bunch of other people when you’ve barely got a handle on your own preference? No thanks.

Enter celebrated sommelier Chris Morrison. He’s just penned a whole book tackling this feat so that no one has to suffer in silence again.

“For me, the book started because the question I get asked the most is - where do I start?” Morrison says. “So it was designed to take the sommelier’s tool kit – their language and their skillset – and turn it into a manual for people to use in restaurants, wine bars and in their own homes to entertain and create a really great wine experience.”

This Is Not A Wine Guide (Murdoch Books) is out now.

Morrison, who fell into the wine industry rather fortuitously (his dad gave him two options: to work with a friend on a vineyard or join the army) wasn't actually spurred by a love of plonk.

“The people, both drinkers and people who worked in the industry, fascinated me. Wine’s an amazing drink but more often, it’s the people and places and things that go around wine that make it really good for me.”

And therein lies the book’s true narrative: it’s the experience - in particular, food - that unlocks the wine, not the other way around. 

Mozzarella with roasted garlic and black olives

“My passion for that has come through working my whole career in a profession where food and wine coming together are the primary remit,” says Morrison, who's clocked up time as a sommelier at London's Coq d'Argent and at Sydney's Guillaume at Bennelong and Quay. 

As such, This is Not A Wine Guide demystifies the whole process (no hoity-toity talk of bouquets or aromas to be found) and the reasons we are drawn towards certain wines over others. It’s for food-lovers as much as it is wine-lovers.

And, Chris Morrison's top 5 tips for nailing that perfect wine selection?

1. Go in with the right mindset.

Go in with your blinkers off - you need to really understand that wine is a very big world.

2. Perfection doesn't exist in the wine world

There’s no such thing as the perfect wine – just the right wine. The right wine suits the occasion, the budget and particularly the food you’re drinking it with.

3. Try to understand what you like in your own taste

...and don’t focus on other people’s commentary. A lot of what the book is about is going back to the basics of food and wine – learning about basic taste, texture and mouthfeel before flavour and aroma. It’s like learning vowels before learning words and how to construct sentences.

4. Learn the lingo so you can convey what you want

The actual language that connects food with wine and articulates what you want is basic. When you’re talking to someone about wine, reduce it down to: Do you like dry or do you like fruity? Do you like crisp and fresh or rich and mouth-filling? There are a lot of simple words that can actually articulate what you like in a wine.

5. Finally, go with your gut

It's really important – don’t listen to critiques. Wine is very subjective; inherently, it’s all personal, so the idea of being able to express what you like in a restaurant or at a shop is important.

This Is Not A Wine Guide (Murdoch Books) is out now.

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