2019-04-01 / Shorts

Guide Book

State College Magazine wine columnist Robert D. Richards releases Wine Savvy: Exploring and Enjoying American Wine.
by Laura Zaks

For Robert D. Richards, a fascination with food and wine has turned into a lifelong pursuit of getting to know both like one does a true love.

The relationship began in the mid-1990s, with Richards taking cooking classes and reading about wine in books, magazines, anything he could get his hands on.

“As I started to learn about wine, I realized how wonderfully complex it is,” says Richards, State College Magazine’s wine columnist since December 2015. “The variation among varietals, regions of the world, soil types, winemaking techniques — all of it interested me — I decided I wanted to get serious about it.”
On April 15, Richards releases Wine Savvy: Exploring and Enjoying American Wine. Richards has written several books relating to his day job as Penn State’s John and Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies, but this is his first on wine.

“Quite simply, the book is designed for people who like wine, but don’t know much about it,” Richards says. “I decided to concentrate on the wines that people would easily find in their wine shops and grocery stores in this country.”

Richards focuses on American wines and the regions they come from, as well as the sensory perception of wine and how that helps with food and wine pairings.

“In the chapter on pairing, I include simple recipes that are designed to educate the reader on how food and wine go together,” he says. “Another chapter deals with hot topics in wine today, and there’s even a chapter on hosting your own wine-tasting party at home — once again trying to emphasize that wine should be fun!”

The book also provides readers with handy wine and food pairing charts.

“I hope that readers will learn how using all of their senses will enhance their enjoyment of wine, learn about the most popular grape varietals and wine regions in this country and learn how to pair their favorite foods with the perfect wine,” Richards says. “And, most of all, (I hope they) learn how to experience and enjoy wine with their family and friends.”

Richards started writing Wine Savvy in 2010, many years after passing the first level examination of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers and becoming a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) through the Society of Wine Educators. Wine education programs that he’s facilitated in State College and at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., also gave him insight into the angle for the book.

“I would often talk to attendees who said, ‘I like wine, but I don’t know much about it.’ (So) I made it my practice to really address those folks in my programs,” Richards says. “Wine should be accessible and wine should be fun — that theme has run through all of my work with wine.” •SCM

Wine Savvy: Exploring and Enjoying American Wine will be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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