At Westerly Library & Wilcox Park: Refine Your Wine Tastes at the Library | Guest columns


I’ve been very fascinated by sommeliers lately, and especially by master sommeliers. If you’re unfamiliar, these are essentially wine professionals: people who know wine incredibly well. Maybe that’s because – as of this writing – I’m about 37 months pregnant (slight exaggeration) and living vicariously. Or because, despite the fact that I am unmistakably an adult adult, my palette is about as refined as that of a 7 year old. Or maybe it’s just because these people have superhuman senses and it’s just fascinating! I know I can’t be alone in this case as there are many books and documentaries on sommeliers, as well as ways to hone your own wine tasting skills.

I first watched the documentary “Somm” (2012) several years ago, and really enjoyed it, so I was delighted to discover the two sequels: “Somm: Into the Bottle” and ” Somm 3 “. The first documentary follows four people trying to pass the notoriously difficult master sommelier exam, and it provides insight into how they train and what drives them to pursue such an impossible dream. The other films build on the first one, going deeper into the wines themselves. All three are amazing, and you are sure to learn something new! The movies are available through our streaming app, Kanopy, which you can access for free on any device with your library card.

We have a lot of books on the subject, if you would like to learn more about wine tasting on your own. If you’re starting from scratch, try Windows on the World Complete Wine Course by one of the world’s foremost wine educators, Kevin Zraly. The book is presented as a series of ‘courses’, each covering a different type of wine, its history, and how to buy and taste it like a pro. Some similar titles are “Wine Isn’t Rocket Science” by Ophélie Neiman and “The Wine Bible” by Karen MacNeil; both contain a wealth of information that will satisfy – but not overwhelm – a novice, and they are presented in a visual and engaging style.

The emphasis should not be on the wine either. There are many other master tasters out there, and we have books on them too! Joshua Bernstein’s “The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks” will help you start your journey to becoming a true cicerone (beer expert). You can enjoy “The World Atlas of Whiskey” by Mitchell Beazley, “American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye” by Clay Risen or “Mead” by Fred Minnick. For something less intoxicating, there’s “The World Atlas of Coffee” by James Hoffman, “The Tea Book” by Louise Cheadle or “The Honey Connoisseur” by C. Marina Marchese. Whatever your tastes, we’ve got you covered.


Most Popular Books

1. “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

2. “Apples never fall” by Liane Moriarty

3. “The Judge’s List” by John Grisham

4. “The Dark Hours” by Michael Connelly

5. “The Last Thing He Said To Me” by Laura Dave

6. “State of Terror” by Hillary Rodham Clinton

7. “I wish you were there” by Jodi Picoult

8. Anthony Doerr’s “Cloud Cuckoo Land”

9. “Better Off Dead” by Lee Child

10. “Thank you” by David Baldacci

Most Popular DVDs

1. “No time to die”

2. “Jungle cruise”

3. “The Crown: The Complete Fourth Season”

4. “Venom: let there be carnage”

5. “Scream macho”

6. “The last duel”

7. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

8. “Respect”

9. “The French dispatch”

10. “Dear Evan Hansen”

This week

TUESDAY – 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Family Story Time – Join us in the Terrace room on the 3rd floor for a family story hour and take-out crafts! The program will target children from birth to 11 years old when accompanied by a caregiver; 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available to help you connect to local services / resources. Email him at [email protected]; 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Afternoon Book Discussion – We will meet in the Terrace Room on the 3rd floor AND on Zoom. New members are welcome! This month’s selection is “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain. Please contact Caroline at [email protected] for meeting details; 2:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom every Tuesday to answer your technical questions. Pre-registration is required; 4 pm-4:30pm, Tinker Tuesday – Join teen librarians in our Teen Space as we combine art, science and fun! Pre-registration is required. Please send an email to [email protected] at least one day in advance; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Club – The Knit and Crochet Group meets weekly on the Reference floor.

WEDNESDAY – 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Family Story Time – Join us in the Terrace room on the 3rd floor for a family story hour and take-out crafts! The program will target children from birth to 11 years old when accompanied by a caregiver; 2-3 p.m., Virtual Film Club – We will discuss three films we selected last month and choose three to watch for our January reunion. Contact Hannah at [email protected] for meeting details.

FRIDAY – The library closes early at 1 p.m. for staff appreciation.

SATURDAY – 10:30 am-11:30am, Zumba in the Park and Library – Try Zumba for a fun workout! Classes are FREE and will take place on the lawn near the commemorative fountain (weather permitting) or in the Terrace room on the 3rd floor (in case of bad weather).

Cassie Skobrak is Reference Librarian at Westerly Library & Wilcox Park.


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