Book Club: 'Which Wine When', by Bert Blaize & Claire Strickett

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

30 April 2020

This new book from two of the UK wine trade's most popular personalities, takes everyday foods as its starting point to remind us of the fun of food and wine pairing

‘For all the friends who’ve asked us what to drink’ is to whom sommelier Bert Blaize and wine writer Claire Strickett’s have dedicated their new book, Which Wine When. No doubt their Whatsapps are flooded with wine queries from their pals, stood in the booze aisle in their local wine or supermarket.

And that’s exactly who this book is for – be they someone already interested in wine, or someone who knows next to nothing, both needing a simple, dip-in-dip-out reference before they nip out to the shops.

The book handily – and eloquently –starts with explaining some of the basic terms around wine, from origin and flavour, to quality and wine service (educational for novices, and handy for those more au fait but in need of a memory jolt).

Blaize and Strickett debunk the oft thought of approach to wine (‘vast, impenetrable and riddled with snobbism’)

Rather refreshingly for a wine book, this one comes at it with food as the starting point. Chapters are split into food and meal types –home-cooked classic, takeaway & fast food, going the extra mile, snacks & nibbles, sweet treats, cheese please, and eating out & tasting wine. Each meal within the chapters is paired with a wine, followed by commentary on what the wine is, why its been chosen, handy alternatives if your shop doesn’t stock it and, a clever touch, simply what type of wine to ask for if all else fails.

One of this reader's favourite combinations, and one which is a classic example of how Blaize and Strickett debunk the oft thought of approach to wine (‘vast, impenetrable and riddled with snobbism’), is chicken kiev with Chablis. By using a relatable food type and explaining how a fresh, zingy Chablis cuts through all that butter and breadcrumbs, and hold its own against garlic, they deftly present how the relationship between food and wine works.

Most importantly, it makes food and wine matching look fun

Clever maps also give readers ideas of the likes of pasta, pies and Chinese food ‘at a glance’, aligning certain wine types depending on the variants of each food type you might be trying.

The guide to ordering wine in restaurants is a lovely way of presenting the role of sommeliers and servers as something not to be intimidated or afraid of. And perhaps a reminder to those in the profession of how guests should be treated...

We’d be remiss not to mention this book’s aesthetic too. The aesthetic is approachable and just a little bit kitsch. Most importantly though, it makes food and wine matching look fun –and that is exactly what Which Wine When is all about.

Hardback, pre-order £9.99; e-book, available now, £4.99, Ebury Press, Penguin

Watch us challenge the guys with your suggestions in our video below and on Imbibe IGTV

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