Book on tasting room etiquette debuts during the big wine weekend

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WALLA WALLA -- Along with the new wine releases this Holiday Barrel Tasting weekend, two local authors will also hold a new release for their first book on wine etiquette, which deals with everything from what to wear to where to spit.

"There is a lot to know, and people tend to get easily overwhelmed and feel like it is hard," co-author Shellie Slettebak said. "Maybe they are shy about learning and asking questions, and the more approachable people can make wine seem the more people that get turned on about it."

"Wine Taster's Survival Guide: A Book of Tasting Room Etiquette" will line the shelves of local wineries this weekend in hopes of catching the attention of those who are new to the tasting room experience.

Book signings are scheduled from 2 - 5 p.m. Friday at Va Piano Vineyards and 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday at Waterbrook Winery as part of Holiday Barrel Tasting.

Co-author Kirsten Telander pointed out that even the best oenophiles will still get a kick out of the colorful stories, illustrations and the hot pink cover.

"It stands out," she said. "We wanted that, visually on the shelf to stand out, and it says this book is fun."

Telander said that she and Slettebak knew their target audience was primarily women.

"Men comprise a large part of the wine tasting market, but they are not going to buy the book. I think that men can benefit from it, but they don't want to be told what to do," Telander said.

Both Slettebak and Telander have extensive tasting room management experience. And it was through those experiences that the two authors collaborated and created a light, humorous and very useful read.

"It needs to be done lighthearted and in an easy spirit so as to not inadvertently make people feel bad," Slettebak said, noting that teaching etiquette is tricky.

Telander and Slettebak financed their own publishing and have arranged to have 1,000 copies distributed to local wineries for Holiday Barrel Tasting.

"We are pretty much going to saturate the Walla Walla market with those," Telander said, adding with confidence, "We are going to go into another print run right before Christmas."

Topics covered in the book include what too wear (comfortable shoes are recommended), why and how to properly spit out wine (travel mugs recommended), how to transport without damaging the product (pay attention to temperature) and even where stand in a busy tasting room (make space at the counter for others). But what won't be covered is information about the variety of wines or pairing with food.

"There are books and Web sites ad nauseam that will go over every variety of wine ...This is for somebody who specifically is afraid to go into a tasting room because they don't know what to expect," Telander said.

"Wine Taster's Survival Guide: A Book of Tasting Room Etiquette" sells for $14.95 and is available at local tasting rooms starting Friday.

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