The Wine Opus is go

(by peter)

For those who prize wine books, freebies and their sense of smell – read on.

First up, the book. This week marks the release of an ambitious new wine book, somewhat loftily entitled The Wine Opus, which is published by Dorling Kindersley (part of the large Penguin Group and producers of the famous ‘Eyewitness’ travel guides).

In recent years, Mitchell Beazley (owned by French group Hachette) has been at the forefront of wine publishing in the UK. They publish, among other things, the excellent World Atlas of Wine.

However, it’s fair to say that the state of wine publishing in the UK has been lacklustre of late.

There has been very little in the way of imaginative, forward-thinking commissioning. Insipid sales of all but the most established wine books haven’t helped. (Many of the most interesting recent releases have been self-published.)

Which is why it’s exciting to see another major publishing house taking the bull by the horns and trying to breathe some new life into the category.

Where The Wine Opus differs from its competition is that it takes a producer-led perspective on the world of wine. At the heart of the book are more than 4,000 winery profiles, complemented by detailed maps, regional overviews and lavish photography.

I haven’t yet seen a final copy but the publicity blurb bravely describes the book as ‘a new look at the new world of wine from a new generation of wine writers…the most ambitious illustrated wine reference to be written in the last 20 years’.

(The reference to the ‘new world of wine’ is slightly misleading as the book does cover the whole wine world, including Europe – though apparently there is a particular focus on North America.)

My particular interest in all of this is that I oversaw the South America section of The Wine Opus, writing the bits on Chile and Argentina. (I should also mention that I have published two books with Mitchell Beazley – Wineries with Style and The Wines of Chile.)

Because of my involvement in the project, DK have kindly agreed to give one of our readers the chance to win a free copy of the book on this, its official release date.

It’s easy really. No multiple choice questions here – the first person to email us will receive a free copy (normal RRP £50 – so not to be sniffed at. UK delivery only.)

And, while we’re at it, we have another special offer to bring to your attention.

Those who have been on one of our wine courses will already be familiar with the wonderfully enjoyable Nez du Vin kits.

These fun kits are made up of small numbered bottles, each of which contains a liquid which releases aromas you’ll commonly find in wine. The full kit (54 aromas) contains smells ranging from lemon to leather via musk, lychee and cinnamon.

They’re entertaining – often enlightening – toys which also have a more serious, and instructive, purpose.

Research indicates that we can, over time, train our sense of smell to recognise aromas we couldn’t perceive before. What is more, there’s a natural disconnect in our brains between our sense of smell and our linguistic centres. This is why we have those maddening ‘tip of the tongue’ moments when we know an aroma well but just can’t put a name to it.

Some practice with these kits helps out in this regard. Of course, they tend to be of most use to wine communicators like us, who can use them in group tastings for a bit of fun. But they’re accessible to everyone with an interest in the more tasteful elements of life.

We’re delighted to be able to offer our readers a 10% discount off all 54, 24 and 12-set Nez du Vin kits from Around Wine.

Simply put the item in your basket and then use the checkout code ‘winchester’.