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Book Reviews | 1 Wine Dude - Page 8

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Does the World Need Another Wine Intro Book? (Book Review: Drink This)

Vinted on December 7, 2009 binned in book reviews, learning wine, wine appreciation, wine books

Well… does it?

I ask myself this question whenever I receive a review copy of a wine book, which has been… a lot lately, it seems.

So here comes four-time James Beard award-winner Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, and her new book Drink This: Wine Made Simple.  Another entry in a (very) crowded field.  It also happens to be excellent, so I suppose the world could use another wine intro book.  Drink This is excellent primarily because Grumdahl’s prose is lucid and entertaining.  Her writing is also down-to-earth.

But excellent writing chops wouldn’t matter a hill of pomace if Grumdahl didn’t know what she was talking about, or if her method for learning about wine proved too rudimentary, too complex, or hindered by some wine-related prejudice.  Thankfully, none of that proves to be the case.  In fact, Drink This is so good that its overall quality makes up for the fact that Grumdahl uses the word ‘varietal’ as a synonym for grape variety (which it’s not).  In fact, she does this so often that I nearly threw the book across the room (I say ‘nearly’ because my sample copy is a hardcover book, and I didn’t want to damage my living room drywall).

The thing that makes Drink This so compelling is that Grumdahl knew writing long before she knew wine. As a result, her method for learning wine (more on that in moment) is likely to  work, because it’s the method that she used herself.

The method?  Well, it’s a variation on simplification

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Wine Humor: Doug Pike’s “Gone With The Wine”

Vinted on December 1, 2009 binned in book reviews, wine books

I was recently contacted by Doug Pike, the cartoonist whose wine-related humor has been published on the subscription-only portion of eRobertParker.com for about four years now.  Doug has released a collection titled Gone With The Wine, which pulls together about 100 of the cartoons that appeared on Parker’s website (Parker supplies the book’s foreword).

Doug came across 1WineDude.com via my recent contribution to CNBC’s Wines for the Holidays, and has become a fan “mostly because of your non-elitist approach to wine, which I share.”  Amen to that, brother!

Doug was kind enough to send a review copy of Gone With The Wine and also give permission for me to post some of the cartoons from the book.  While some of the cartoons are clearly geared towards the fine-wine-loving crowd that have made Parker a household name, I found myself chuckling more often than not at the fun being poked at wine geeks (myself included among those ranks) throughout Gone With The Wine

The cold hard truth is that we really are that goofy – and long may we remain that goofy, so long as we take the wine – but not ourselves – seriously.

A few samples of Doug’s work appear below, with his permission – enjoy!…

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Zen Wine: David White’s Sippin’ On Top Of The World

Vinted on October 21, 2009 binned in book reviews, wine books, zen wine

I seem to be in ‘book mode’ the last week or two.  I’m a bit of a bookworm, so it’s fun for me to mess  around at the intersection of wine and the printed word.  I still don’t own an eReader device, by the way – I prefer Book 1.0 – you know, the kind with actual pages that you can stick a bookmark between.

Anyway, here’s another piece of printed word that intersects with the wacky world  of wine.

David White’s Sippin’ on Top of the World: Toasting Good Times and Better Days, of which I recently received a sample copy, is a bit of a strange book. 

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s being misrepresented. 

Sippin’ on Top of the World isn’t so much a list of wine toasts (as the subtitle would lead you to believe) as it is a series of spiritual wine meditations.  Which makes sense when you consider that its author, David White, is the co-founder of the “WineSpirit Institute for the Study of Wine and Spirituality.”

Uh-ohhhhh.

At this point, your mind may be screaming “CULT! CULT!” and planning to run away as quickly as you can lest you be tainted by the odiferous funk of the religious cook.  It would be an understandable reaction, though one that I’d argue was totally incorrect.

In fact, depending on your point of view, dismiss Sippin’ on Top of the World too readily and you’d be missing out on some potentially enthralling conversation topics, not to mention possible sources of inspiration…

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A Portrait of the Satirist as an Old Winemaker: An Interview with Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm

Vinted on October 8, 2009 binned in book reviews, interviews, winemaking

To many people, the charismatic front-man of the iconic Boony Doon wine brands, Randall Grahm, is the Mad Hatter of the wine world.

Once they read Randall’s recently-released book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology, those same people will realize that they’re dead wrong.

Randall Grahm is not the wine world’s Mad Hatter; Randall Grahm is the wine world’s Cheshire Cat, equally (and eloquently) adept at satirizing the modern trends of the wine industry as he is at continually surprising wine consumers with quirky, excellent wines inspired by a desire to transmit the equally quirky and excellent message that California’s terroir has to tell.

Been Doon So Long is, at times, a masterstroke; it’s just as interesting, funny, poignant, and acerbic as any wine that California has ever had to offer.  Clearly an avid lover of literature, music, and wine, Randall Grahm has somehow managed to utilize all three as he takes us through the history of Bonny Doon, offers intimate glimpses of his personal demons, and sends up many of the wine world’s most sacred cows.  If he has a mad hat, Grahm is clearly capable of pulling rabbits out of it – both when it comes to wine and when it comes to writing.

Been Doon So Long is a unique work, and while it might not be the kind of book that you’d expect from the world of wine, it’s probably the book that the wine world deserves right now.  I found reading the book to be rewarding, but rather like the fabled rabbit hole, the deeper you get into it, the more difficult it becomes to fully explain.  Which is why I figured I’d let someone msarter (Randall) explain it instead.

[ Special note to the FTC: Have I received the book and Bonny Doon wines as free samples? Yep. Did that influence my review of the book? I don't think so, but I'm not a psychologist. ]

Following is an interview I conducted with Randall this week while he’s in the midst of his promotional tour for Been Doon So Long.  Like the book, the interview will give you a glimpse into the rabbit hole of Randall’s mind.  You’ll encounter below a guy with a formidable prowess with the written word, strong opinions, a consuming passion to find a Californian wine that truly speaks of its origin, and who isn’t afraid to wear his emotions in plain view.

But before you head down this rabbit hole, be sure to gather up your smarties, love of literature, an open mind, and a glass of something unique and terroir-driven.  You’re gonna need ‘em…

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