Wine Sense preorder campaign launched!

The Wine Sense preorder campaign has started in earnest!  To secure your copy, just click here!  You will be provided an overview of the book, the plan to publish and the details of many great preorder packages and corporate patronage packages available, including:

Personal orders and personal and corporate sponsorships (all prices in US$)

  • Ebook for $10
  • Hardcopy copy for $25
  • Author signed hardcopy for $50
  • Patron author signed hardcopy sponsorship including Acknowledgment in book, and on websites for one year for $100 – $500
  • Great corporate team building and client entertainment events and sponsorships

All hardcover copy orders includes free Ebook version if ordered before April 15, 2014!

winesense_2bSign up now at!

Wine Sense is approximately 300 pages, has 22 Chapters and is broken into four Parts:

  • Part One:  Wine and the Senses
  • Part Two:  How Wine Interacts with the Senses
  • Part Three:  Enhancing Your Wine Drinking Experiences
  • Part Four:  Where to Next?

Part 1: Wine and the Senses provides an overview and framework for understanding how wine interacts with the senses and why this can be pleasurable.  Part 2: How Wine Interacts with the Senses provides a thorough explanation of how wine interacts with each sense to heighten your wine drinking experience.  Part 3: Enhancing Your Wine Drinking Experiences offers a a simple approach and pragmatic tips to ensure your wine drinking is as enjoyable as it can be.  Then Part 4: Where to Next? points you in the direction of other resources and ideas on how to continue to deepen and mature your pleasure with wine.

Wine Sense will be published published in June/July, 2014.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out July 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

Presenting Wine Sense Table of Contents

I have basically finished Wine Sense and in the next few weeks Wine Sense will be in the hands of approximately ten reviewers to critique it and provide ways to make it better.  I finished the content of the book two months ago, but (1) wanted to let it rest for a while to be able to read it as a typical reader (to the best of the ability of any author to read the material they wrote!), and (2) there is a lot of work in terms of providing proper citation to other references, adding 40 images and inclusion of Top Tips and Fun Facts insets for most chapters.  Then it is onto final layout and publication.

Steve sniffing 2But the content of Wine Sense is close to complete, so I wanted to provide a deeper sense of what the book is about and why Wine Sense may be of interest to you.  Over the next few months, I will be presenting excerpts and helpful tips from the book.  First I wanted to share the Table of Contents (TOC) with you.  Just reading the TOC should provide a good overview and sense of what is in the book.

Table of Contents


Part One: Wine and the Senses

Chapter 1: Wine Enjoyment
Chapter 2: Role of Our Senses for Wine Enjoyment
Chapter 3: Philosophy of Primary and Secondary Senses
Chapter 4: Wine as an Aesthetic Experience
Chapter 5: Role of Language in Wine Appreciation

Part Two: How Wine Interacts with the Senses

Chapter 6: Overview of Wine and Sense Interaction
Chapter 7: Wine and Sight
Chapter 8: Wine and Smell
Chapter 9: Wine and Taste
Chapter 10: Wine and Feel
Chapter 11: Wine and Sound

Part Three: Enhancing Your Wine Drinking Experiences

Chapter 12: Improving Smell and Taste Sensations
Chapter 13: Improving Sight Sensations
Chapter 14: Improving Feel Sensations
Chapter 15: Improving Sound Sensations
Chapter 16: Other Ideas for Improving Your Wine Drinking Experience
Chapter 17: Buying and Storing Wine
Chapter 18: Wine Drinking Practice and Experience

Part Four: Where to Next?

Chapter 19: Tools and Systems for Managing Your Wine Inventory
Chapter 20: Further Wine Education
Chapter 21: Other References
Chapter 22: Final Thoughts


Appendix A: Castro’s Ten Descriptors of Odors
Appendix B: Robinson’s Wine Color Chart
Appendix C: Wine Database Format and Field Listing


I originally was going to write a blog post last year on why our senses were so important in appreciating wine, how they work, and how to improve using our senses to enjoy wine more.  Once the post got to 2,500 words, I decided I was going to make it a multi-part post, but by the time I got to 12,000 words, I knew it had to be a book!  The book is currently 112,000 words so it was probably a good idea to go the book route!  I am very excited to tell you more over the next few months and to get the book into your hands as soon as possible.  More posts to follow.

Please let me know what you think about the content and structure.  Any feedback is appreciated.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

Origin of SAZ in the Cellar moniker

It has been almost two years and 170 blog posts since starting SAZ in the Cellar!  Thank you for your great support and interest in my opinions on the subject of wine.

I am often asked what does SAZ in the Cellar stand for and what was the meaning behind it?  I think the ‘in the Cellar’ part is pretty obvious and relates to spending time in a wine cellar.  I am a big believer that the best and best-valued wines you will drink are from your own cellar and are aged over time.  I buy wine to put in the cellar; rarely do I buy a bottle of wine for immediate consumption.  Most wine is drunk far too early and does not have the ability to reach its potential.  Therefore, I spend a lot of time in my cellar: putting wine in, selecting wine to go with an upcoming meal and monitoring my wine inventory to make sure I have the right drops aging for the next decade.  My wife calls my cellar my ‘man cave!’  Hence I thought it appropriate to think about wine from the perspective of the cellar.  My upcoming book Wine Sense present a lot of information regarding how to calculate the size of your cellar, what to put in it and how to store wine in your cellar to make sure you get the most out of it.

SAZ in the Cellar

SAZ in the Cellar

So why ‘SAZ?’  My wife had inspired me by writing her cooking and food blog DAZ in the Kitchen.  Since she was in the Kitchen and I was in the Cellar, I thought I would play off her DAZ theme and become SAZ.  I assumed DAZ meant ‘Deanna from A – Z,’ and I liked the idea of SAZ for Steve from A – Z.  Therefore I became SAZ in the Cellar and proud of my moniker!

Much later I found out that it was a common Australian country town convention to provide a nickname which used your first initial and added ‘azza’ to it.  My wife was looking for a nickname for her blog, but did not like Dazza, so shortened it to DAZ which she thought sounded better.  I still like the idea of the AZ representing the body of knowledge from A – Z, but am really glad my wife decided to ignore convention and go with DAZ instead of Dazza.  Otherwise, today I might have been Sazza in the Cellar instead of SAZ in the Cellar!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

Recent retreat from wine writing

I want to apologize for not writing a wine post for one month.  I usually try to get one, if not two out every week.  The lack of wine writing has been due (1) intentionally taking six weeks off from looking at Wine Sense, so as to scrutinize it from the reader’s view – not the writer’s view, and (2) I have been focused on building a publishing platform for the book including doing the book cover graphic design, images, formatting and layout.  It is all coming together nicely for an early 2014 release.

But I have missed the constant attention to wine bloggin and will be getting back into it next week.  We will be three weeks in The Hunter Valley, which has been a source for previous wine writing inspiration!  It will be great to have both the time and a glass by my side most days.  As Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.”  I never write drunk, but do enjoy a taste or two while putting fingers to the keyboard.

I also wanted to be in The Hunter Valley to validate and finalize some of places I will be recommending for Parts Two and Three in the four-part piece on The Hunter Valley I am writing.  I am certain there will be some disagreement over my choices of best places to stay and eat, but I will hopefully introduce you to some exciting new finds.  There are so many great reasons to visit the Hunter Valley.

Hunter Valley view

I am very excited about Wine Sense and what it has to offer.  Further teasers and information will be released in the next few months which hopefully excites you to read the book.  We have established a writing and publishing company, InkIT Publishing to handle our writing and training needs (yes, we are also doing an online training course on wine appreciation!), including the release of Wine Sense.  I wanted to prove to myself and others that they can write and publish a book of merit without using a major publishing company.  I spent the last three months analyzing and evaluating this decision and have concluded I wanted to go it alone to truly understand the process required and be able to then help others write and publish.

But for now and the next few weeks, it is back to wine blogging!  I had a lovely 1993 Penfolds Grange yesterday which will be the focus of my next post!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

Wine writing update

First and foremost, SAZ in the Cellar is a wine resource site.  It is my intent to blog about wine, share ideas on enjoying and appreciating wine, and provide links to other resources on wine.  I believe my upcoming book, Wine Sense(s), fits into that concept.  Therefore, I will be providing the occasional update on the status of Wine Senses(s) and post on other wine writing.  I will also provide reviews and links to other wine blogs and books that I find useful and expect you will enjoy to broaden your wine reading.  Over time, the Resources page and sub-pages on this website will provide references to other wine blogs and books, and wine-related products and services that hopefully will be of interest.

But the focus of my blog posts will continue to be on wine tasting and enjoyment.  We will review wines, match wines with food and also provide useful tips for buying wine, storing wine and most importantly, drinking wine.  These ideas are being consolidated into the book and should provide you with a great read in the coming months.  I have found that in blogging about wine and then researching and writing a book on wine that I learned a great deal – much more Continue reading

My last Blogger post, but not my last SAZ in the Cellar post

After 18 months of using Blogger, I have decided to switch over to WordPress.  This decision was based primarily on the ability to easily build out a more proper website.  It will continue to be used for blogging, but also used to start describing and promoting my upcoming wine book.  I can also easily create additional web pages to provide links to anything and everything wine-like.  The blog is stilled called SAZ in the Cellar, but just has a new URL.

SAZ_BC_SnippedAll Blogger posts have been imported into WordPress and still available!  However, the internal links to other previous posts still point to Blogger, so I will keep Blogger reference-able until all links are changed.

I am very excited about both my upcoming book and the capabilities provided within WordPress.  Using WordPress should allow me to significantly grow the usefulness of SAZ in the Cellar.  For regular updates, please also like my Facebook SAZ in the Cellar page.  And the book, Wine Sense(s) should be available around the end of 2013 or very early 2014.

I am integrating my wine and writing brand into SAZ in the Cellar to make it easy for you to follow and continue to partake in the wonderful world of wine with me!

Thanks to all of you for your tremendous support and to Google Blogger for making it possible.  We had over 33,000 page views since launching about 18 months ago.  But it is time to expand and do many new things.  And WordPress provides a brand new vintage for doing that!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

Wine blogging or wine book writing?

Many people have asked why I have not been releasing as many blog posts in the last few months.  I used to post about 10 – 15 per month, but have only posted twice now in the last month.  I apologize for that and need to get more diligent.  But there is good cause as I have been very focused on getting my first wine book published.  This has been a far larger effort than my previous book Still Stupid at Sixty which I wrote under the pseudonym, Blake Stevens.  It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the electronic publishing industry.  But that was a tale that I needed to write, not a book that I hope influences a much larger audience.

I have written about 300 pages so far and expect the wine book will end up between 350 – 375 pages.  I am putting a heavy-duty effort into finalizing my research and restructuring the book to make it more readable and accessible.  I am really excited about the book and hope it reaches a wide audience that will enjoy and benefit from it.  My last book was only published in electronic format and limited to Kindle mobi format (which has about 90% of sales for authors electronically).  My wine book will be published both electronically (in a number of different formats) and in printed form and will have a number of photographs.  It will also have video links using QR Codes.  The photography and video components adds a great deal of work to the effort, but is well worth it.

My last book was a personal tale so I did not need to do any research or citation of references.  My wine book will have a substantial bibliography and set of footnotes and endnotes.  This is another dimension of why the wine book requires much more effort than my first book did.

Note taking in Evernote

I had been writing the book in Word, but have now converted the Work In Process (WIP) to Scrivener which is an authoring management system.  I am also using Evernote for collecting research and clipping notes.  Both are brilliant applications which have really increased my productivity.  I review my sources, enter comments into Evernote on my iPad (see picture), then cut and paste into the correct section in Scrivener.  This has really helped me to improve the organization and structure of the book.  It has also provided me a vehicle to do much more electronically instead of working with paper to-do lists and a multitude of different files, notebooks, Post-It tabs, margin writing, etc. Additionally, I am learning HTML and CSS to be able to better understand and control the final output of the books even though I will have a professional designer work with me to accomplish that.

However, all of the book writing and coming up to speed with new applications (great as they are!) on top of working a full-time job has limited my desire and ability to blog, and for that I apologize.  I am flattered that a number of people have been querying my whereabouts and look forward to my posts!  And I want to let you know that I will be blogging much more over the next month again.  I will do limited writing on my wine book, but much reading and research and restructuring of the book before I get into doing a significant rewrite in about four to six weeks time.  This will leave more energy over the next month for blogging.  Plus I will extract a number of the basic concepts from the book and use those to create blog posts and to start to introduce you to the book.

Thank you so much for your support!  I really appreciate it and hope you will become as interested in my wine book as you are my wine blog.  I will release some ‘teasers’ along the way as each section of the book is further developed.

We had a tremendous time in the Hunter Valley, meeting with some wine makers and cellar door friends, and also meeting some new great chefs around the region.  It was so wonderful to have two solid weeks of vacation to do a major restructuring of the wine book, but my blogging has suffered due to my dedication and focus to the book.  I will try to keep both better balanced while I am finishing off the book.  I promise each of my three blogs will receive more attention.

Thanks again for your support and interest, and keep drinking well!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

My losing article in wine writing competition

Late last year, I decided to enter the Gourmet Traveler (GT) Wine magazine wine writing competition.  I was originally quite excited about it, but spent far less time to get an article out than I had planned.  My work commitments were high and most of my creative energy was going in that direction.  I knew the article could be improved and in the final week before the deadline, I was undecided about entering or not (as I knew I would not have the time or energy to improved the article furhter or write another one).  However, I felt if I did not enter, there was no way I could win, so I forwarded my submission.  Yesterday, I was informed the award was given to another.

Even had I been extremely pleased with my submission, I felt there was only a limited chance of winning.  Many previous winners have been sommeliers, wine makers, vingerons, etc. and I was an immature wine enthusiast!  Yet, my article did match most, if not all, of the characteristics they asked each writer to aspire to.  It was useful to go through the experience.

My losing article still provides some good advice about purchasing wine and I think you will find it interesting, even though it has not been judged to be of magazine quality.  Here it is and I hope you enjoy!

Buy – don’t be sold – your wine

We love convenience, especially as the pace of life seems to be speeding up.  We eat meals out so as not to have to cook them ourselves, or even shop for the ingredients to prepare them.  We have people clean for us, do our laundry, and some will shop at Aldi because they trust the premise that Aldi has made high quality, good-valued product choices for us, so we do not have to take the time to research or make those choices ourselves – just pick up bread, milk, chocolate, and even wine without regard to brand.

That convenience has extended to our buying of wine.  Winery loyalty programs tell us “not to worry mate”, just sign up and we will send you your wine of choice every year, regardless if it is a good vintage or not.  Or even easier, we will send you a mixed six-pack every six months.  You can stop by Wine Selector in Australian domestic airports, sample several, and if you like these wines, then trust them to send you wines in the future at price points they believe deliver good value to you.  Because many of us are unsure or intimidated in our wine knowledge, we let and even appreciate the wine sellers selling us what they think is best for us.

Buyers and sellers of wine have different purposes, which can be at odds with each other.  As buyers, we want to get great wine at a great price, have wine we can drink right away or lay down until the wine is more optimally drinkable.  Sellers of wine need to clear inventory and create cash flow every year.  Each vintage, they try to produce the best wine they can and be able to sell it at a price buyers can afford, but more often than not, this proves difficult due to challenging climatic or market conditions.

I have bought a lot of wine over the years and in review, have realized I have been suckered into buying decent wine which I was convinced by the cellar door manager was great wine at a great price.  But now that I have been able to taste and compare more wines, I have come to realize that wine varies greatly in quality vintage to vintage, vineyard to vineyard and wine maker to wine maker, but varies little in price.  For example, the 1996 and 1998 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignons are far better than 1997 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignons, yet the price upon release was about the same for most brands.

I have rarely purchased wine without tasting it first.  Through experience, I have come to know what I like in a wine.  But even if I have not tasted a wine, I can feel reasonably sure I am buying great wines at a great price, if I look at three features of a wine that make it better (or worse) valued than other wines:

  • Vintage (year the grapes were grown  
  • Where the grapes were sourced (often called terroir, or at least a component of terroir)
  •  The wine maker (not the brand, but the actual individual) 

Yes, it may be easier to let the wineries or distributors ‘sell’ you, but they are often pushing what wines are in inventory, regardless of vintage, and touting the brand, not the wine maker.  By combining a bit of knowledge regarding vintages, the source of grapes and who the wine maker is, you can consistently buy great wine at a great price.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub