Book Review: Why You Like The Wines You Like; by Tim Hanni, MW

I have to say, I was incredibly excited when Tim Hanni announced he was releasing a book on his work related to wine preferences and out-dated “trends” in the wine industry. Ever since I met Tim over a year ago at a seminar held in the Monticello AVA region of Virginia, I was convinced that the traditional wine and food pairing “rules” were not, in reality, appropriate for who we actually taste and how each individual perceives and enjoys particular flavors and characteristics of wines. In fact, I’ve been preaching this message quite frequently in the tasting room when I’m pouring, and I have to say people are very receptive and thrilled with the new ideas.

Image source:

Image source:

To purchase the book, you may find it on Amazon by clicking here.

Why You Like The Wines You Like: Changing the way the world thinks about wines; by Tim Hanni, MW, is a highly educational and eye-opening book that allows to enjoy the wines you like without feeling “embarrassed” and that stresses the importance of matching wine “to the diner, not the dinner”. Hanni uses scientific evidence to support his views, and provides many “try at home” exercises to further help you in understanding why you like the wines you like, and why any wine can go with any dish (nearly).

The first part of the book focuses on determining what are you favorite types of wine. Using what Tim has cleverly named “My Vinotype” (based on the biological term “phenotype”), Tim has used decades of scientific research to identify several different Vinotypes which are definite as the “sum of the physiological and psychological factors that determine your unique wine preferences and values”. Are you a tolerant taster? Or perhaps a hypersensitive? Maybe you are a lover of sweet wines? This book gives you “permission” to embrace your Vinotype which could help guide you in your wine purchases at home or out at a wine bar or restaurant.

Want to know which Vinotype you are? Go to to find out! **Please note**:  this program is still being tweaked and added to in order to get a more accurate representation of your wine preferences.  The results may be oversimplified right now (and thus may not completely reflect your exact preferences), but they are adding new questions and complexity over time.

The rest of the book focuses on dismantling the current view of tradition wine pairing (i.e. red wine with steak; white wine with fish; etc) and to focus on the

By Jules Morgan from Montreal, Canada (The wine flight  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jules Morgan from Montreal, Canada (The wine flight Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“diner” and not the “dinner”. The basic idea is one shouldn’t be asking someone what they plan on eating in order to choose the appropriate wine, but instead one should be asking “what types of wine do you like?” or “what’s your Vinotype”?

What if someone simply can’t stand the taste of red wine, since it’s too bitter for their palate (which, by the way, someone who loves sweet wines and can’t tolerate big red wines has significantly more taste buds than their red wine drinking counterparts)? Are you going to force them to drink a big and bold red wine anyway because they ordered steak? As Tim points out in the book, the consumer will only become frustrated and give up on wine altogether, instead going to a mixed drink or perhaps beer as an alternative.

What if, instead, there wasn’t this stigma against people who don’t like big red wines and who enjoy sweeter or slightly sweet wines? These sweet wine drinkers, who make up a huge proportion of the total wine drinkers out there, would not feel embarrassed or otherwise looked down upon, and would order the wines that they love with confidence. By intimidating or embarrassing these sweet wine drinkers, we are only driving them further away from wine, and thus alienating a huge portion of potential consumers (who will now be spending their hard earned money on liquor or beer instead of wine).

The point Hanni drives across in this book is that wine preference is not an intellectual characteristic, nor is it necessarily something that changes with more wine education. In fact, there are many wine professionals who know a lot more about wine that the Average Joe who are Sweet Vinotypes and who love a good Riesling with their big, fat, juicy T-bone steak. Are these people less “advanced” in the ways of wine? Of course not! They simply have a particular physiology and biological make-up which results in them loving sweeter wines and preferring to steer clear of red wines.

I could go on and on about the different points and topics in Why You Like The Wines You Like by Tim Hanni, but then I’d pretty much be re-writing the book and that’d be silly (and well, kind of illegal). Instead, you should read the book for yourself! Why You Like The Wines You Like should be REQUIRED reading for everyone who loves wine, or who thinks they might love wine if only they didn’t feel pressured or embarrassed to steer clear of their favorites. This book has several fun do-it-yourself exercises that will help further convince you that wine and food pairing shouldn’t be about certain rules per se, but should be all about the individual consumer and what types of wines they actually like and would prefer to drink.

If you are a critic of this school of thought, you definitely need to buy the book.

By Simon Law (originally posted to Flickr as Sparkling wine) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Simon Law (originally posted to Flickr as Sparkling wine) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You really should listen to the science behind Tim’s findings, and certainly perform that do-it-yourself exercises. If you’re still not convinced, that’s totally fine, too. Tim just wants to have the opportunity to share this new ideology with us all, in hopes that we can create a new way of thinking in the wine world (and thus increase the number of people actually drinking and buying wine instead of making them feel alienated and driving them to a different drink).

Long story short: I HIGHLY recommend Why You Like The Wines You Like by Tim Hanni. The book is chock full of great science, great information, many laughable moments, and fun exercises for you to do at home in order to further understand these principles.

Drink the wines you like, don’t be embarrassed, and enjoy that white wine with steak or that red wine with fish! Salud!

To purchase the book, you may find it on Amazon by clicking here.

7 comments for “Book Review: Why You Like The Wines You Like; by Tim Hanni, MW

  1. February 23, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I have had a few online discussions with Tim, and have never yet managed to get him to give me any scientific evidence for his views. In this context, when I say scientific I mean evidence from peer reviewed papers in respected journals – evidence that would probably involve double-blind trials etc. The evidence he has put forward to me has been from his own workshops.

    His conclusions may or may not be correct, but as thing stand now I see no particular reason to accept what he says over more traditional views, which are also backed by anecdotal, and in some case scientific, evidence.

    If he now really does have scientifioc evidence, I would be very interested in seeing it. Do you you have references to papers? You might also like to consider reviewing them on your blog, as I am sure they would be of interest to your readers.

    • Becca
      February 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Steve! That’s actually a great idea to review some or all of the research cited by Tim in the book. I will say the primary piece was one that he collaborated on with Dr. Virginia Utermohlen at Cornell University, and I’m not certain at this point in time if they have submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal or not. I’d be curious to know about that. I will certainly try to find some of the other research he cited and report back in a separate blog post!

      I think the most important thing, for me, is that whether or not one subscribes to the traditional views or not, someone who enjoys certain wines that have traditionally been “looked down upon” or “made fun of” should not be treated in such a manner. By doing that, we are essentially turning off potential wine consumers (and their cold hard cash 😉 ). I know not everyone who subscribes to the traditional views behave in this manner, however, enough do that there are a huge number of potential wine consumers that end up going the way of liquor or something other than wine instead of feeling somehow inferior or looked down upon because they enjoy a wine traditionally thought of as poor quality or otherwise inferior to other types of wines.

      My point is, I say drink whatever the heck you like and drink it with whatever the heck you want to eat. Sure, I think some wines go better with certain foods, but that’s for MY palate, whereas to someone else, it might taste like swill 😉

      I don’t think there is a steadfast right or wrong answer here, but I think everyone needs to just get along and accept every wine drinker for what they like 😉 Besides, we want more people to drink wine, right? 🙂

      Thanks for commmenting!

  2. February 25, 2013 at 6:55 am

    The last time I checked, Tim was indeed collaborating with a scientist, but the reearch was not published. I am at least pleased Tim has stirred up debate, and I agree with pretty much all the views you express in your comment. I only have a couple of caveats…

    Some wine/food combinations have been shown to create chemicals that most people would regard as nasty-tasting. One I am aware of is red wine and fish (oily fish IIRC), which creates metallic notes.

    The other thing is that, if traditional rules are applied sensibly and politely, I think they can help form a consensus around the table regarding what bottle of wine to open, and generally make life easier. Of course, that only applies if everyone is eating the same, or similar, food – if not, then traditional rules can make things worse!

  3. February 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I am pulling together and use the work of numerous mentors in the scientific community from not only Dr. Utermohlen at Cornell but also from experts at Monnell Senses Center, UC Davis (not wine scientists I might add), Cal Poly and around the world.

    The other thing is that the ‘traditional’ rules are NOT the traditions of wine, they are modern, based on metaphors and false history.

    Read the book and join the fun! You are invited to lunch anytime you are in the SF area – maybe I will get out your way first. You will find that “some wine/food combinations have been shown to create chemicals that most people would regard as nasty-tasting. One I am aware of is red wine and fish (oily fish IIRC), which creates metallic notes” is mostly a delusion and can be easily explained, and mitigated, for the very sensitive people who do find the reaction.

  4. WineKnurd
    February 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    What are the metaphors and false history behind “traditional” wine-food pairings?

  5. February 26, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Hi WineKnurd – please read the book for the details, that is why I wrote it! 🙂

  6. WineKnurd
    February 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Well done sir 🙂

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