If a trip to a wine shop is like a reluctant expedition to the unknown Planet Grape, first pick up a copy of "The Wine Brats' Guide to Living, With Wine" (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.95). The irreverent guide to wine culture was penned by the organizing trio behind Wine Brats, a California-based group of Gen-Xers who are countering the grape's stuffy image with a youthful take.
Step-by-step guides explain how to decipher wine labels and choose correctly for any meal -- even takeout pizza. Further advice includes building a wine cellar in the bathroom and hosting soirees on a shoestring, including a "champagne and trailer park vittles" party theme that keys on the finest bubbly to bring out the flavor of pigs-in-a-blanket, cocktail weenies and Twinkies.
Find out more about the Wine Brats and its nearby chapters in Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville at www.winebrats.org