Make your life easier with The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné »

Or how not to worry about needlessly complicated wine advice

By Kerry Scambler
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<i>The New Wine Rules </i> by Jon Bonné

The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné [©Quadrille Publishing Ltd ]


My Wine Rule 1 is “Don’t buy chardonnay without tasting it first”.  Rule 1(a) is “When you say 'I’m not into chardonnay' and the cellar door person automatically responds 'but you’ll love our chardonnay' – they’re not listening”.

These are some of my own notes-to-self on wine tasting, and are certainly not in Jon Bonné’s book The New Wine Rules. But, there is plenty other sensible advice for wine-lovers of all kinds and at all levels of interest and expertise.

Bonné's Rule 1 is 'Drink the rainbow' and his last Rule 89 is 'Don't Save a great bottle for anything other than a rainy day'. Like all the intervening 'rules', they guide you on a no-nonsense journey to learning what you like and enjoying it all much more.

Bonné has been professionally writing about wine for over 15 years and his wife imports and sells some of the world’s best wines. They have concluded that “wine isn’t something you need to learn about in classes or by chasing a degree. Wine is something that becomes part of your life in gradual, almost invisible steps.” Hurrah!

Along with many other wine writers/critics like Rob Geddes MW and James Halliday, Jon Bonné believes that now is the best time in history to be drinking and enjoying wine.

That’s why this book isn’t about regions or varieties – it’s all about learning what you like. And who isn’t interested in defining that a little more?

The New Wines Rules is designed to help you on those steps on a common-sense, easy-to-understand path, set out in sections covering:

  • The basics
  • Inside the bottle
  • Choosing it
  • How to serve and enjoy it
  • Storing it and taking it places
  • Wine with food
  • Dining out
  • Drinking in

Rules that caught my eye:

Rule 1. Drink the rainbow.  Just like food.
Don’t just think in terms of red or white because white can be “pale green or deep yellow. Red can be so light it’s fuschia” and there are literally thousands of shades of rose pink! 

Bonné says we have now the freedom to drink without borders (although the borders in Australia may be international, rather than state) so start exploring the wine world. "Drink the rainbow" is the guiding principle of the book – it’s certainly not a wine expert telling you wine is white or red.

Rule 5. Really, you only need to know a few wine key terms.
Phew, that’s a relief because I’ve struggled with some of the more technical terms over the years.  Explained are the basics of fruity, herbal, spicy, dry, mineral, animal, tannic and rustic – all in a short, straightforward way.

Rule 13. Not all sparkling wines are made the same.
Bubbles get into wine in a variety of ways and can produce varying quality.  A quick run-down on the most significant methods – traditional, charmat (tank), carbonation and ancestral – that produce Champagne, sparkling, prosecco and cava.

Rule 17. Stop worrying about sulphites.
An interesting one when you have friends that are sensitive to sulphites. According to Bonné, sulphites are not likely to be the cause. He says if this were so that dried fruit, bottled juices, pickles and powdered tea would also cause the same issue. It's probably something else. However, I’ll leave judgement on this rule to those it affects.

Rule 50. Wine glass stems are there for a reason. Use them!
Of course the stemless glasses have their place at picnics, outdoors etc but, as Bonné points out, the stems are there to keep your warm hands from changing the wine taste and aroma. Swirling to release the aromas is also much easier with the stem.

Rule 69: Wine people talk about foods that don’t go with wines. Ignore them.
Yes there are foods that are not easy to match with wine:  Bonné’s examples are asparagus and Brussels sprouts but as he says, Germans and Austrians wash them down with grüner veltliner, sylvaner etc.  Sugar and oak in wines can also be problematic for food matching, but they too have a niche.

A couple of favourite Rules:

Rule 70. If all else fails: bubbles.
Yep, sparkling and prosecco are my go-to wines when I can’t work out quite what I feel like! (There are days when bubbles are mandatory!)

Rule 89. Don’t save a great bottle of wine for anything more than a rainy day.
Bonné says "nothing will give you more pleasure thank opening a great bottle with people you like, and enjoying the fact it has been saved for that moment, even if you didn’t really save it for the moment.”

Besides, life can be a rollercoaster and we can be faced with difficulties and sudden joys at any turn, so perhaps the rule should just be around enjoying special bottles with special people because you can, and not because of any specific or concocted occasion. Plenty of people have died with great wines still in their cellar.

The verdict:

It’s an unpretentious wine book, straightforward and enlightening. You can dip into it at any page/rule and gain some insight and inspiration. 

There are some comments and notes that may not apply quite as much in Australia but the principle is much the same. There are also some rules that may not apply to your household, like "Rule 53: You’ll never need more than two type of wine glass, three at most". Simply. Won’t Happen, not in my household anyway! We have a mix of inherited and gifted glasses along with the branded tasting glasses that tell of a longer wine relationship that I had thought.

If you’re wanting to get into wine without having to understand and memorise the more technical and verbose terms, New Wine Rules is an ideal pathway.  It’s also ideal light reading for plane trips!


A footnote on my Rule 1 (a). On a recent wine tour of the Yarra Valley with the delightfully named Wild Wombat Winery Tours, one establishment did listen and thus succeded to tempt me with a chardonnay. On tasting it was rather nice (no overbearing oak and butter there) and would go well with the cheese platter we had in mind for late afternoon...

Sadly though the universe intervened and the bottle was accidentally smashed before it got home. I am now left wondering if it would have tasted that good? Anyway, as Bonné says, there are plenty more wines in the rainbow to try!


Read more in the press release here »

The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné is published by Quadrille, an imprint of Hardie Grant (Jul 2018; UK; Hb; 151pp). It is available from all good bookshops and can also be found to purchase online via »



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February 04th, 2019
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