The following in a brief excerpt from "The Drunken Sommelier," Steven's recently published book. The chapter is called, "The Basics". Buy it here.
Some of the shit on these pages is going to seem unbelievably obvious. So obvious, you’ll probably be mad initially that you wasted time reading about it. But, that’s the problem with wine. Everybody starts out by saying, “Oh ya, I know the basics.” Well, no, they don’t know the fucking basics. The reason they don’t know the fucking basics is because the American wine industry and most wine educators have been selling the basics as “Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio and blah blah blah” for decades now. I’m not even sure if I know the fucking basics, at least off the top of my head. It depends.
But seriously, let’s cut the crap for a second. Even if there were such a thing as “The Basics” (this isn’t a line of socks and underwear from Walmart), what would they be? I suppose that we’d start with how wine was first made. We’d want to cover its historical evolution, and eventually, bring that up to the present. We’d want to know about the types of grapes from which wine hath been made. Not just Pinot Noir and shit, but the actual differences in biological species of vines. Because those do exist, and I’d say that’s a fairly basic part of understanding wine that most people never consider. Then we have to figure out where and how these wine grapes grow, and yada yada yada, everything else that follows. I guess my question to you is that, do you know “the basics”? I think that if you did, you’d know a hell of a lot. “The Basics”, you’d think, would be obvious. But most people don’t think of that stuff when they think of “The Basics”. But they should. So go find out.