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Book Review: Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter

Review By Camille Berry Domaine Romanée-Conti's wines are perhaps the most famous in the world, and amongst the most expensive. The highly allocated bottles are reasonably scarce and cause a craze among collectors, particularly when it comes to bottles of the wine made from the Romanée-Conti vineyard itself. It is hallowed ground for Burgundy lovers and oenophiles the world over. A stone cross - a relic from the vineyard's days in the hands of monks, marks the site - seems to watch over Romanée-Conti like a silent sentinel. Perhaps due to the vineyard's renown, it became the target of a... continue reading


Wine and Words in Three Volumes

I happened last week to be eating lunch at a small cafe that had a wine store and bar attached. The only available table for me to occupy while scarfing down my panini during a break from my fifth day in the jury box (long story, don't ask), happened to be in the wine store. And sitting on the table was a careworn copy of Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wine and Spirits, first published in 1967. I spent my lunchtime leafing through this early (and remarkably deep) attempt at a comprehensive description of the world of wine. In addition to... continue reading


Book Review: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert

Review By Stella Fong The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert will, at first, appeal to the reader's inner child. With thick cardboard pages, great illustrations, and scratch and sniff scent disks, the book offers elementary tools that provide good introductory wine information sans the verbiage that fill other basic compendiums. The author, Richard Betts gets right to the point, confessing to hating wine speak. Even as one of the fewer than 200 Master Sommeliers worldwide he sheds all wine snobbery, stating what he finds obvious, "Wine is a grocery, not a luxury." With humor and... continue reading


California's Current Wine Revolution

What does the world look like to those in the midst of a quiet revolution? As with the frog in a pot of slowly heating water, sometimes change can be hard to see when it doesn't arrive with a clap of thunder, an overnight recession, or live narration from a serious-looking news reporter with a microphone. If you weren't paying particularly close attention, or your relationship to California wine consisted of what you might find on your supermarket shelves each week as you shopped for your dinner, things might not look all that different from a few years ago. But... continue reading


Book Review: The Latest in Wine and Food Pairing

Review by Tim Patterson. If you find the subject of food and wine pairing confusing, intimidating or irritating, read Francois Chartier's Taste Buds and Molecules and then Tim Hanni's Why You Like the Wines You Like in quick succession, and wait for your head to explode. These two highly opinionated volumes have only one thing in common: they both argue that just about everything you ever thought about wine and food pairing (including, by implication, anything in the other book) is wrong. Beyond that, there is some overlap on topics, but precious little agreement about what you should put in... continue reading


Book Review: Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz

Why would any wine lover want to know something about more than one thousand different grape varieties? For the same reason that wine lover would want to taste them. A certain class of wine enthusiast, whether or not they accept the moniker of "wine geek" will experience a small shiver of delight as they peruse the pages of the recently published tome Wine Grapes, provided they haven't gotten a hernia in the process of lifting the seven pound book onto the table in the first place. As its subtitle suggests, this book attempts to be "A Complete Guide to 1,368... continue reading


Book Review: A Toast to Bargain Wines by George Taber

Review by Tim Patterson Books and articles about bargain wines are a dime a dozen--check that, a nickel a dozen. And like many forms of wine recommendations, they tend to be frustrating, too, since the phenomenal global proliferation of wine labels means that laying your hands on any particular bottle can be more trouble than it's worth. Do you really want to spend half a day visiting wine shops and calling supermarkets in search of an $8 Rioja? And just when you and your guide are hitting your stride, all the vintages change, leaving you wondering if you should trust... continue reading


Book Review: The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book by Harry Karis

It's not entirely clear to me which is more remarkable: the fact that before this book was published there was no definitive guide to one of France's most unique and historical wine regions, or the fact that this gorgeously exhaustive guide was entirely self-published by a wine lover who decided to do something about that lack. Regardless, it can easily be said that the world of wine books is greatly enriched now that Harry Karis has published his opus, The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book. I feel something of a kinship with Karis, though I've yet to meet him, because he seems... continue reading


Book Review: Wine Wars by Mike Veseth

Review by Tim Patterson. A big part of wine's allure is that it is so many different things: a source of alcohol, a source of pleasure, a gateway for entry into the mystical, the erotic, the enlightened, the divine, the silly, and sometimes the idiotic. But for thousands of years, it has also been a commodity--and that's where this book comes in. Worrying about wine as a commodity seems uninspiring, even tawdry, compared, say, to worrying about the distinctive terroir of some patch of dirt in Alsace. But without the buying and selling, we'd all be home winemakers, wine production... continue reading


Book Review: The Drops of God: Vol 1, by Tadashi Agi

I'm tickled by the idea of wine featuring prominently in popular entertainment. I think a lot of wine lovers got a kick out of Sideways. Regardless of what they thought of the movie overall, there were enough inside wine jokes and archetypal wine conversations that anyone who loved wine was able to at least smile knowingly. I found it delightful to watch people geeking out about wine and extolling the virtues of Pinot Noir on the big screen. A similar small delight is to be found in the pages of the newly translated Drops of God, by Tadashi Agi and... continue reading


Book Review: Two New Takes on Natural Wine

Review by Tim Patterson. Alongside the profusion of wine bars and wine weeks focused on so-called "natural wines"--wines made with minimal winemaker intervention and chemical adulteration-- two new books try to explain the phenomenon and assess its significance for the future of wine. In Authentic Wine: Toward Natural and Sustainable Winemaking, British scientist / wine writer Jaime Goode and New Zealand-born consulting winemaker and Master of Wine Sam Harrop make a plea for maintaining and defending the diversity of wines and wine styles from around the world, concentrating on careful, in-depth analysis of the technical and philosophical issues involved. Alice... continue reading


Book Review: When Wine Tastes Best

Review by Tim Patterson I am here to tell you about the only wine book you or I will ever need--at least until next year, when we'll all need the 2012 edition. Throw away all those critic's ratings and all those books about food and wine pairing; you won't even need to visit Vinography any more, except for the cool images. When Wine Tastes Best: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers 2011 is what happens when the most far-fetched aspects of biodynamic agriculture get transplanted from vineyard to glass. It turns out, the introduction explains, that the same astral forces... continue reading


Book Review: Wine by Thomas Pellechia

Review by Tim Patterson Unlike the fads and fancies and 15-minute trends that come with every new vintage, the history of wine tends to stay put: the wine gods from ancient Greece and Rome don't get dethroned retroactively, and the 1855 classification of properties in Bordeaux, for better or for worse, said what it said. So even though Thomas Pellechia's Wine has been around for a while, it hasn't gone out of date, and it still provides an excellent read for anyone curious about the complex interplay between this amazing beverage and the history of the world. As the subtitle... continue reading


Book Review: Vino Argentino by Laura Catena

Book review by Sarah Trubnick. Argentine wine is an interesting subject for a book at this point in time. The wine industry in Argentina is currently witnessing a renovation and redefinition, with many wineries focusing on the potential for exportation. This burgeoning fine wine industry has caught the eyes of many throughout the international world of wine, and the quality to price ratio of many wines is exceedingly attractive. These points, along with the coincidental fact that I am presently here in Mendoza, led me to a reading of Laura Catena's Vino Argentino in the hopes of gleaning a bit... continue reading


The Wine Lover's Essential Library

I've been asked more than once in the past few weeks about which wine books I like that might make good gifts for the holiday season. And so I've had to give a little thought to which books I feel every serious wine lover should have read. So without further ado, here's my list. I didn't set out to have only ten, but that's just what I ended up with trying to stick to the most important books, the books that I think every self respecting wine lover should definitely have read, and possibly own. I had to leave off... continue reading


Book Review: Secrets of the Sommeliers by Rajat Parr and Jordan MacKay

Review by Tim Patterson. Secrets of the Sommeliers, a collaboration between Rajat Parr, wine director for the Michael Mina group of restaurants in San Francisco, and wine writer Jordan Mackay, carries the sub-title, "How to think and drink like the world's top wine professionals." Enticing as that sounds, and interesting as the book is, by the end, I wasn't entirely sure I was up to either task. The world of the upscale restaurant sommelier is a rarified place, populated by razor-sharp palates honed through years of diligent practice, access to tasting an astonishing range of wines most of us never... continue reading


Book Review: Matt Kramer on Wine by Matt Kramer

Review by Tim Patterson. In contrast to his string of useful and successful Making Sense volumes -- Making Sense of Wine, of Burgundy, of California Wine, etc. -- Matt Kramer On Wine is a collection of short articles, written over the years for Wine Spectator, Decanter, and other publications. Rather than offering a sustained treatment of a single region or subject, this volume showcases Kramer's three-decade mastery of the art of the truly interesting and intelligent wine column. For those who have kept up with Kramer, the book can be the occasion for re-immersion; for those who haven't, it's an... continue reading


Book Review: Reading Between The Wines by Terry Theise

I can honestly say that of all the people in the wine world that hadn't written books, the one I wished most to do so was Terry Theise. And now that he has? Well, let's hope he doesn't stop at one. Terry Theise is not a name that will ring a bell with the average wine drinker. But to many a serious wine lover, especially those acquainted with the wines of Germany, Austria, and the back roads of Champagne, Theise is a rock star of a wine importer. His portfolio of wines, focused exclusively on those three regions, is one... continue reading


Book Review: Wine Cellar Porn for Your Coffee Table

I think the very nature of coffee table books encourage them to be over the top. What else do we want, lounging around in the living room, than to be transported to someplace wonderful? A good coffee table book is better than TV in my opinion, if only because you want to experience it multiple times, which is more than I can say for pretty much any given TV show episode. I've now leafed through both The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars in the World and Living With Wine several times, and probably will again. While it's somewhat crude to us... continue reading


Book Review: Continued Surveillance by Jake Lorenzo

Review by Tim Patterson. Wine writers love Jake Lorenzo's stuff; many wish they could write like him, or more precisely, get away with writing like he does. It's not so much the sheer literary quality of Jake's "mostly true stories of the wine business," the book's subtitle; it's the vantage point and the audacity. Jake Lorenzo is the rare wine writer who views the wine world from inside the industry, not as an outside observer dispensing judgments and scores. Better yet, he freely admits that he and his friends love to get hammered--common enough among wine writers, but rarely the... continue reading


Book Review: A Year of Wine by Tyler Coleman

Review by Brooke Cheshier. When I first slipped into A Year of Wine: Perfect Pairings, Great Buys, and What to Sip for Each Season, I worried it would be too formulaic. I am drawn toward in-depth histories (anything by the Kladstrups), poetic memoirs (Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher's Love by the Glass springs to mind), and basically any book that feeds me my wine knowledge indirectly, though story, instead of through instruction. Since I evidently don't like to know I'm receiving an education, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about what was basically a one-year manual for... continue reading


Book Review: In Search of Bacchus by George M. Taber

Great travel writing should do more than simply paint a picture of distant locations and suggest how they may be experienced. At its best, the travelogue should transcend its itinerary and offer a deeper, more meaningful narrative than one might expect to experience themselves should they find themselves in the writer's footsteps one day. George Taber's new book, In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, ultimately fails to satisfy. That the book should be so ordinary and uninspiring was a huge surprise given the tremendous enjoyment I got out of the author's previous two works,... continue reading


Book Review: Resveratrol by Matilde Parente

Review by Tim Patterson. This is a short booklet, no frills, on a very focused topic, and will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the serious science behind the claims that resveratrol in red wine is a boon to your health. Definitely worth a read. This whole business started, of course, with the famous "60 Minutes" piece over a decade ago on the French Paradox, the mystery of how it could be that the folks who eat foie gras for snack food have fewer heart attacks than the rest of us who just eat McDonalds's grease on... continue reading


Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent

I've recently discovered someone that I think may be perhaps the greatest writer of tasting notes in the history of the English language. He's not a wine critic, and the notes aren't about wine. But Luca Turin can write about what he smells better than anyone I have ever seen. Luca Turin is many things, but perhaps most of all he is a scientist. But then again that may be too small a word for a man whose career has consisted of smashing down many of the walls that divide traditional scientific disciplines. Pioneer might better describe this man who... continue reading


Book Review: The Psychology of Wine by Evan and Brian Mitchell

Review by W. Blake Gray I hate this book. I hate this book primarily because its title is misleading. Though one of the authors was once a psychologist, there's very little psychology here. If it were titled, "Logorrheic Lit Major/Sommelier Muses On Wine And Literature," that would at least be truth in advertising. Psychology is a science; this book has no charts and graphs, but it does have 298 footnotes, most of them to books of fiction or literary analysis. Even if it were better titled, I would still hate this book, because I hate the writing style. The Australian... continue reading


Book Review: Grape Man of Texas by Sherrie McLeRoy and Roy Renfro

Review by Alfonso Cevola. Twenty-five years ago, I got a call from a client of mine, originally from Bordeaux, who had a wine bar in Dallas, Texas. "My father is visiting from France and would like to go to Denison, Texas, and see where Mr. Munson lived and worked. Would you like to go with us?" My friend's father was Raymond Chandou, who studied and worked under Emile Peynaud, and who ran one of the largest and most successful wine cooperatives in France. "You bet," I said. I was definitely in on this trip. A few years before, while making... continue reading


Book Review: Notes on a Cellar-Book by George Saintsbury

Review by Tim Patterson. If you love to drink wine, and love a good read, you have to get ahold of this book. The dust jacket for this re-issue and annotation of English wineophile George Saintsbury's famous Notes on a Cellar-Book describes it--correctly--as "one of the greatest tributes to drink and drinking in the literature of wine." It's also the quirkiest, the most baffling and inscrutable, and the most flagrantly opinionated. Writing in the 1920s, Saintsbury (1845-1933) was more than an avid drinker and collector; he was a legendary professor of literature in the British Isles, the author of something... continue reading


Book Review: Wine Politics by Tyler Coleman

Review by Tim Patterson. Here we have that rarity of rarities: a wine blogger who knows how to write a footnote. Wine Politics dates from the days when Tyler Colman--known to the wine blogosphere as Dr. Vino--was an academic political scientist teaching at NYU, before he succumbed entirely to the wiles of wine. The book is an expansion and retrofit from his dissertation in political economy at Northwestern University, and so when you encounter, in the course of a discussion about supply and demand and wine quality, references to economists Joseph Stiglitz and John Maynard Keynes, you quickly realize this... continue reading


Book Review: Reflections of a Wine Merchant by Neal Rosenthal

Review by Alfonso Cevola. It's not unusual to pick up a wine book that reads like a journal. But Neal Rosenthal's Reflections of a Wine Merchant reads like it could have been the personal journey of a score of young folks who entered the wine industry 30 years ago, me included. The confluence of experience was so uncanny at times that I started thinking this guy had climbed inside my head. He may be a celebrated and accomplished fellow in the world of wine importers now, but in the early days many of us traveled the same wine paths and... continue reading


Book Review: Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner

There are two things I wish were more easily found in the world of wine: great bottles for under $5, and excellent introductory wine books for novice wine lovers. Although after reading his latest book Heard it Through The Grapevine: The Things You Should Know to Enjoy Wine, I'm tempted to suggest that the wine world also needs more people like Matt Skinner. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Skinner stumbled into the wine world almost by accident. As relayed in a 2005 profile in the UK's The Observer, his transformation from surf bum to celebrity sommelier sounds more like the plot... continue reading


Book Review: Wines & Wineries of California's Central Coast by William Ausmus

Review by Arthur Przebinda. The Central Coast is a huge appellation. Compiling a comprehensive guide to its wineries is nearly a Herculean task. William A. Ausmus, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Communications professor, set out do that with his book: Wines & Wineries of California's Central Coast: A Complete Guide from Monterey to Santa Barbara. The book consists of a very good 30-page introduction and a main section with winery profiles. The latter is divided into three parts, each focusing on a separate county: Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Each of these contains its own detailed introduction,... continue reading


Book Review: The Widow Cliquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Review by W. Blake Gray Great books are often the result of obsession. They have to be, considering the hours put into work that may never be published. Tilar Mazzeo, an assistant professor at Colby College, spent years pursuing her obsession with the life of the Veuve ("widow") Clicquot for her book The Widow Cliquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It. The Widow built one of the leading Champagne houses in the early 19th century in an era when few women were internationally famous for anything other than marrying well or divorcing scandalously. Most... continue reading


Book Review: American Vintage by Paul Lukacs

Review by W. Blake Gray. Is wine food or alcohol? Most Americans would immediately choose "alcohol," perhaps laughing at the question. In Europe, though, that wasn't the case for centuries. Before water purification became widespread, wine was safer to drink than water. The idea that wine is primarily an intoxicant is relatively recent, and like so many influential memes in the world today, it comes from the United States. Paul Lukacs' book American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine was inspired by the author's realization at an Italian wine event that U.S. wine has become not only the best in... continue reading


Book Review: The Billionaire's Vinegar

Review by Tim Patterson. If you're getting your morning jollies reading about the amazing collapsing Ponzi schemes of investment wizard Bernie Madoff, you'll love The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Story of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine. It's all there: fraud on a grand scale; apparently smart people who should have known better committing serial stupidities; rich people doing pratfalls in public. It's like a bottle full of schadenfreude; what more could you ask from a wine book? In this particular case, the super-rich and the official arbiters of vinous taste make fools of themselves over a stash of wines... continue reading


Book Review: The Battle For Wine And Love by Alice Feiring

Review by Brooke Cheshier. I was going to read Alice Feiring's book and write my review and I swore I was not going to be influenced by the controversy that was thundering across the web-writing world. But then I thought, well, perhaps I'd just take a peek? One quick look? So I clicked onto the Cellar Rats forum, then the Wine Spectator Bulletin Board and suddenly found myself swept up in the tornadic, mostly negative conversations occurring on these sites. Heck, even Amazon.com reader critiques seemed uncensored. One Amazon review, titled Feir and Loathing on the Champagne Trail, basically dubbed... continue reading


Book Review: The Geography of Wine by Brian J. Sommers

Review by Tim Patterson. This is a very useful, though not very exciting book. No rhapsodies about mind-bending encounters with memorable wines, no personality portraits of wild and crazy winemakers, no dirt on the owners of winedom's most precious pieces of dirt. But dirt, yes--the kind geographers start from and worry over. Brian Sommers teaches geography at Central Connecticut State University, including a course on the geography of wine, a subject that turns out to include a vast range of vinous things. Early on, he explains to non-geographers--that would be nearly all of us--that the geography of wine is more... continue reading


Book Review: Passion on the Vine by Sergio Esposito

Review by Alfonso Cevola. There are stories that are meant to be true and stories that are intended to stir one's enthusiasm. In reading Sergio Esposito's highly engaging Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy, how can you not want to have your very own Neapolitan family? While some of the anecdotes may not be the gospel truth, the book follows in the tradition of the Neapolitan, who are known as the story tellers of Italy. An extra pinch of salt, one more clove of garlic, and what does it matter,... continue reading


Book Review: To Cork or Not To Cork by George Taber

There's only one thing, you might say, that stands between a thirsty wine lover and her wine. And luckily, that obstacle is usually easily overcome with one or more variations on a twist of a wrist. Corks, screwcaps, crowncaps, glass stoppers, plastic corks, synthetic corks, agglomerated corks, the list goes on and on. 20 billion of them are used each year, and these closures which seal our precious bottles of wine are given very little thought by most wine drinkers. Indeed, we only tend to notice them when they are unexpected -- a screwcap when we were thinking about cork,... continue reading


Book Review: Biodynamic Wine, Demystified by Nicholas Joly

Review by Tim Patterson. Biodynamic grapegrowing and winemaking have gotten a great deal of press in recent years, far out of proportion to the planted acreage involved. Much like the coverage for the adventures of Britney Spears--also wildly outstripping the extent of her creative resume--biodynamics write-ups have tended toward the sensational, even the salacious, emphasizing the ritual usage of cow dung and excursions into pop astrology. At the same time, there is no denying that the international Who's Who of biodynamic growers and winemakers turns out some mighty tasty wine--Chapoutier in the Rhone, Zind Humbrecht and Ostertag in Alsace, Domaine... continue reading


Book Review: Red, White, and Drunk All Over by Natalie MacLean

Review by Jessica Yadegaran Do readers really care about active yeasts and secondary fermentation? Or do they long to understand wine's seductions, and its otherworldly sense of place? Do they care about a region's production, or would they rather hear how a glass of juice resembles a curvy redhead, and why it makes them feel the way it does? You know, drunk. This is among Natalie MacLean's first points in Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. A descendent of Celtic alcohol-lovers and livers, MacLean, a sommelier, writes first and foremost from a sensual... continue reading


Book Review: House of Mondavi by Julia Flynn Siler

Review by W. Blake Gray. Carlo Rossi was a real person: a relative of Ernest and Julio Gallo. In the 1970s, the Gallos launched a new jug wine and decided "Carlo Rossi" (though he actually went by "Charlie.") had the right ring to it. Now he's famous and synonymous with cheap wine. This is not a bad thing: songs and even a band have been named after him. And people who buy Carlo Rossi wine do not turn up their noses at it -- it's bringing pleasure into their lives. It seems that Robert Mondavi may be headed down the... continue reading


Book Review: First Big Crush by Eric Arnold

Review by Christy McGill. Have you ever daydreamed about a different life? Perhaps one set in some sun-dappled, far-flung wine-making countryside where rows of grape vines bursting with perfect fruit are transformed with the help of your touch into magnificent wine? A better question might be—has anyone with even a cursory interest in wine actually not harbored this fantasy? Eric Arnold, a 20-something former joke and copywriter decided to chuck it all, leave New York and take his version of that daydream to the next level. What resulted is First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine... continue reading


Book Review: The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson

As casual wine lovers, we live in the daily romance of wine. We thrive on the pleasures of a great glass with a wonderful meal, a fabulous bottle shared with a friend, or the exciting first taste of a new grape variety. But lurking just under the surface of this delightful, even magical world, lies a deeper more complex universe of wine made up of history, geography, geology, meteorology, organic chemistry, geopolitics, economics, philosophy, and more. Some are content to always experience wine in the most casual of ways, but nearly every wine lover I know has at some point... continue reading


Book Review: A Wine Miscellany by Graham Harding

Review by Jessica Yadegaran. Did you know that the world's oldest single vine is in the Slovenian city of Maribor? Or that the Italian Ministry of Justice supports a Roman jail's production of Novello wines to the tune of $600,000? And how about this: the world's largest wine list belongs to Bern's Steak House in Florida. The restaurant stocks half a million bottles and employs ten wine waiters. Gems like these make up Graham Harding's A Wine Miscellany: A Jaunt Through the Whimsical World of Wine. Harding, chairman of the Oxford Wine Club and director of a specialist wine importer,... continue reading


Book Review: Love by the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher

People fall in love with wine every day, and many never realize that it is happening. They just wake up one day and they can't imagine a life without it. Frankly, the same is true when we're talking about the people that we love -- unless there's a bolt from the blue, much of the time we never even realize just when, exactly, we started loving the person that we end up spending the rest of our lives with. The mysterious pull that wine and love have on our souls is similar enough that it comes as a surprise to... continue reading


Book Review: The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell

They say those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but many of the events of the past were so dependent upon the knowledge of the times, that there is simply no way they could ever occur again. Indeed, those of us who are alive today take certain moments in history for granted, precisely because our modern experience blinds us to the extent of the crisis that these events most certainly represented at the time. Such is the case for the modern wine lover, who enjoys a bottle with the carefree ignorance that there was... continue reading


Book Review: I'll Drink To That, by Rudolph Chelminski

Review by Wanda Hennig "The story of how Beaujolais reached its present prominence is worth a look because it encapsulates so much not only about the wine itself but also about France and the French themselves: this quick, talented, nervous, occasionally maddening but altogether admirable people." So writes Rudolph Chelminski in the opening chapter of his book about Beaujolais: the wine (or more aptly, wines); "the" Beaujolais," as he reminds readers to call the region; and Georges Duboeuf—known as "Mr. Beaujolais" in the wine world. Duboeuf is the driven "French peasant" of the title, seemingly an intuitive marketing genius, who... continue reading


Book Review: Washington Wines & Wineries by Paul Gregutt

Review by Cole Danehower When I read James Laube advising in a recent Wine Spectator column that "Many Washington reds . . . make for good alternatives to their counterparts from California," I could almost feel the heat of Paul Gregutt's blood boiling. Gregutt is a well-known wine writer and authority in the Pacific Northwest and the author of the just published Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide. Gregutt is a partisan of Washington wine quality. I could easily imagine he might have claimed that many Washington reds would make good replacements for their California counterparts! Frankly, he'd... continue reading


Book Review: Sweet Wines by James Peterson

Review by Jennie Schacht. In the world of wine, the sweet ones get short shrift. But veteran cookbook author James Peterson doesn't mind. His book, Sweet Wines: A Guide to the World's Best with Recipes, covers the territory that wine writers often leave behind. Peterson's discussion of the wines, accompanied by his own evocative photographs, covers this complex subject clearly and succinctly. After a context-setting introduction, he takes us on a geographic voyage through the thirteen most important countries producing sweet wines, describing major regions and the wines for which they are best known. Sidebars point to interesting details, top... continue reading


Book Review: Hip Tastes by Courtney Cochran

Review by Jessica Yadegaran. Millennials, there's much to celebrate. Not only did wine out sell beer last year, but you are officially the fastest growing segment of the wine consumer market. Good times, indeed. So if you're young and trendy " or both " and looking for a solid introduction to wine, you've found it in Courtney Cochran's Hip Tastes: The Fresh Guide to Wine. Cochran is the brains behind the uber-popular San Francisco-based Hip Tastes events, where 20-somethings relish PB & J and Tater Tot pairings for their wine against a techno beat. She's infused her first book with... continue reading


Book Review: At Home in the Vineyard by Susan Sokol Blosser

Review by Tim Patterson. Oregon's Sokol Blosser Winery prides itself on a number of "firsts" it has scored over the years, for everything from its wine to its architecture. Now co-founder Susan Sokol Blosser has written the first account of the rise of Oregon wine by a pioneering industry insider, and it's a good one. When Susan and her husband, Bill (the whole scheme was his idea) planted their first vines in 1971, they had none of the relevant skills and experience—no background in growing grapes, making wine, or running a business. They, and a lot of other people in... continue reading


Book Review: Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy

Review by Bill Rohwer. With dozens of wine regions, hundreds of grape varieties, and several overlapping classification systems, Italian wine is not a subject for the faint of heart. The authors of Vino Italiano certainly have the credentials to write an authoritative account. Joseph Bastianich co-owns (with Mario Batali, who lived and cooked in Italy for some years) five Italian restaurants and an Italian wine shop in New York City, as well as owning two Italian wineries, one in Toscana, another in Friuli; David Lynch is the wine director at one of these restaurants and a prolific wine writer.... continue reading


Book Review: North American Pinot Noir by John Winthrop Haeger

Review by Cole Danehower. If I were a grape, and someone wanted to write a book about me, I'd pray that someone was John Winthrop Haeger. Haeger's singular work, North American Pinot Noir, is a model of precise scholarship translated into cogent and flowing narrative. Thankfully devoid of the purple prose syndrome so prevalent in writing about Pinot noir (for example, Oz Clarke calls Pinot "seductive, sultry, steamy, sinful if possible," while Serena Sutcliffe says that "to unlock the flavors and smells of fine Burgundy is to attain a hedonist's nirvana."), the volume should serve as the prototype for sober,... continue reading


Book Review: What to Drink With What You Eat, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

Review by Jennie Schacht. If you have ever anguished over what to serve with your perfectly poached salmon, or what to prepare for your dinner guests toting wines they brought back from South Africa, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have advice for you. 2007 International Association of Culinary Professionals "book of the year" winner What to Drink with What you Eat: The definitive guide to pairing food with wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea—even water—based on expert advice from America's best sommeliers is the current sine qua non of wine and food pairing, with 230 pages listing over 1500 pairing suggestions... continue reading


Book Review: Decantations, by Frank Prial

Review by Derrick Schneider. Frank Prial’s New York Times wine articles educated and entertained subscribers for more than 25 years. His small piece of the Dining section whisked readers into historic chateaux, through renowned vineyards, and into hearing range of the business’s most interesting people. Food and wine lovers no doubt looked forward to his articles, but they were ephemeral works destined to be the next day’s birdcage liner. Devotees can now trawl through the Times’ online archives to find them, but they might prefer to pick up Decantations: Reflections on Wine by The New York Times Wine Critic which... continue reading


Book Review: Educating Peter, by Lettie Teague

Review by Jessica Yadegaran. If wines were movies, what would be your Citizen Kane? After all, one man's genre-defining epic is another man's Roadhouse. That's the premise of Lettie Teague's Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert. Teague, an executive editor at Food & Wine magazine, spent a year weaning her dear friend Peter Travers off fatty Chardonnay and into the nuanced arms of Riesling and Pinot Noir. Entertaining and easy to read, it is an ideal ride for the budding wine... continue reading


Book Review: The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass, by Jamie Goode

Review by Tim Patterson. Jaime Goode is one of the best popular science writers in the English language, and fortunately for us, his subject is wine, not cosmology or tropical diseases. Trained in biology, a former scientific editor, his Wine Anorak website (and accompanying blog) is a major presence in internet wine and the original source for many of the ideas explored in this fascinating, mind-opening book. The Science of Wine isn't a textbook on grape growing or winemaking, though it covers a lot of that ground. Its chapters are focused on key concepts and controversies in the serious wine... continue reading

But Wait, There's More!

This page only has the last sixty entries in this category. If you're interested in digging farther into my archives, you'll want to use the complete list of archives to access my articles by month.

Calendar of Postings

May 2016

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Most Recent Entries

Book Review: Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter Wine and Words in Three Volumes Book Review: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert California's Current Wine Revolution Book Review: The Latest in Wine and Food Pairing Book Review: Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz Book Review: A Toast to Bargain Wines by George Taber Book Review: The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book by Harry Karis Book Review: Wine Wars by Mike Veseth Book Review: The Drops of God: Vol 1, by Tadashi Agi

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud