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Wine Fundamentals

Directed by
: Dobri Kiprov
Starring: John Champion, Tim Hanni
Released by: MVC Productions

In Short: From tasting to pairing, this is an easy-to-understand wine primer for those with limited-to-no previous knowledge.

Back to the Basics
A Perfect Gift for the Wine Novice You Love
By James Riswick

Do your friends and family not understand why you're fascinated by wine instead of Schlitz? Does their understanding of oenology extend only to "this one appears to be red; that one white?" Then they need this easy DVD primer.

In “Wine Fundamentals,” viewers are shown the basics of wine from its ancient history to food pairings. Consider it the video version of a Wine 101 course. The information is imparted in easy-to-understand ways, avoiding advanced (and often confusing) wine terminology. This isn’t intended to turn you into a sommelier; it simply provides interesting info to use when going to a tasting, talking to your enthusiast spouse or ordering a bottle at a restaurant.

Some of the more fascinating DVD “chapters” include Master of Wine Tim Hanni’s description of different types of tasters—those who can and those who cannot detect bitter tastes—and how they will respond to different wines. Common varietals are thoroughly explained, as are the differences between global wine regions—with an emphasis on France. A section on the growing, manufacturing and aging of wine illuminates the time and effort that goes into every bottle. If you should forget anything, the DVD comes with a business-card-sized cheat sheet that features a list of mild, medium and strong wines.

Sadly, the DVD appears to have been edited using Microsoft PowerPoint and the faux interactions between host John Champion and the experts tend to be laughably bad (think Troy McClure in “The Simpsons”). Nevertheless, “Wine Fundamentals” does the job it’s intended to do commendably. A novice will walk away armed with valuable knowledge for his next visit to the wine store or to his snooty neighbor who makes fun of him for not knowing the difference between Chardonnay and Cabernet. Either way, at least he’ll be able to say more than “this one appears to be red.”

P061906 (Updated 07/31/08 SCV)

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