Posts Filed Under wine books
I’ve been inundated with wine book samples this month (which I’ll note is November 2016, for posterity’s sake, and for those of you still sobering up from Thanksgiving), both the electronic and the good, old-fashioned dead-tree varieties. And so, I’m going to use this edition of the wine product roundup to give you a little taste of the current wine book scene (all prices noted are for hardcover editions).
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine 2017: 40th Anniversary by Hugh Johnson ($16.99, Mitchell Beazley)
Bottom line: highly recommended.
Every year for the last several years, I’ve received a sample of the latest edition in this series. Every year for the last several years, I think that this insanely useful little gem cannot possibly get any more insanely useful. Every year for the last several years, I have been wrong, and 2016 continues the trend. The high bar that’s been set for this go-to reference book for the last forty years has predictably been matched, but I’d argue it’s also been exceeded, in that the “If you like this, try that” and “wine stories” article themes that have been reserved for this edition’s color pages sections are superb (and make the book even more useful). If you’ve skipped the last couple of editions, it’s time for an upgrade.
The 24-Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson ($12.95, Abrams Image)
Bottom line: recommended, with reservations.
It’s not that The 24-Hour Wine Expert isn’t a very good wine book; it is, and Jancis Robinson brings her sharp prose and equally sharp mind to pop many a wine myth balloon within its short 112 pages. The idea, espoused by Robinson in the opening Welcome section, is to use the book to answer common wine questions (how is wine made?, how should one buy wine?, what hardware should be used?, etc.) as they come up. The trouble is, the book is positioned in a way that leverages the very kinds of sweeping generalizations and shortcuts that Robinson has spent nearly her entire career in the public spotlight battling against, and ignores a more comprehensive wine knowledge resource of which Robinson has become a particularly skilled champion: the Internet. There’s useful information here, no doubt, but the usefulness of a hardcover copy is debatable…
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Squeaking this one in juuuust under the wire, here’s the August 2016 edition of the wine product roundup, in which I highlight non-drinkable wine products from the ever-growing sample pool.
Annoyingly, I’m not going to actually be reviewing this month’s products, only mentioning and recommending them. This is due to the fact that said products – both of them upcoming book releases – were authored by people that I consider to be wine writing friends and colleagues; so the potential conflicts of interest are of war-torn Bosnian proportions.
The first is American Rhone: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink ($35, University of California Press), by Patrick Comiskey. The only thing that I don’t like about Patrick’s upcoming book is the lack of the word “that” in the title. I’ve known Patrick for several years now, though our paths cross far too seldom. In this new book, he takes on the struggles of the people behind the movement to produce and promote wines made from Rhone varieties grown in the U.S.
Comiskey has a skeptical reporter’s mind, a poet’s way with turns of phrase, an editor’s sense of conservation of words, and a keen (and deep) understanding of – and respect for – wine as a subject matter, all of which come to bear in American Rhone. I’ll just leave it at that…
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Given that, at the time this publishes, I will be on the road (yeah… again…), this seemed like an apt time to dive into the non-liquid portion of the sample pool, and offer up the July 2016 incarnation of the Wine Product Roundup. This month, there are no drinking vessels in the lineup, but the printed word does again make an appearance (because, well, writing).
First up under the review microscope is Bee Smart Gear’s Bottle Protector (about $20 for a pack of 3). Generally, I like to refer to these types of products as “bottle condoms,” since they serve a similar purpose: physical protection, and prevention of leakage (sorry; yeah, I went there).
I am a fan of these products (talking about the wine bottle protectors now), because I have used just about all of them in real-life, checked-baggage scenarios and I can personally attest to their efficacy. In Bee Smart’s case, you slip the bottle neck-first into the bottom of the protector, being sure that the internal bubble-wrap covers the entire bottle (you can fit a 750ml or smaller into these). You then close the double zip-locks at the bottom, roll up the end, and connect the velcro straps.
The bubble wrap provides ample protection, provided that you pack the bottle intelligently (aim for the center of your suitcase, with plenty of dirty undies on all sides). If there is a break, the bags almost always provide great leak protection; in fact, if you enclose a full bottle into one of these, and smash it with a hammer, in my experience it won’t leak unless the bag is punctured (I do not recommend trying that at home, by the way)… Read the rest of this stuff »
image: Insight Editions
I often joke that I’m a shining example of how not to run a freelancing career. For starters, here on 1WD, I write about whatever moves me (rather than the conventional “discover what your audience wants and tailor to suit” style of blogging that is apparently much more likely to attract pageviews), and I do so in ways that actively explodes standard wine writing constructs, putting the pieces back together in any way that I deem fit. And let’s not talk about my penchant for run-on sentences.
I also have done embarrassingly little in terms of hustling for work. Every once in a while, something awesome seems to fall into my lap (yes, I consider myself blessed… as well as kind of stupid…).
Such was the case when I got a call to author the foreword to an upcoming hardcover book celebrating some of the best purveyors of Napa Valley Cabernet (who were recently highlighted at the CabFest 2016 event), joining wine PR maven (and very good writer) Lisa Adams Walter, who penned the introduction.
image: Insight Editions
For about $25, you can now pre-order a copy of the book, titled Napa Valley Cabernets: The Best of California’s Wine Country, which will be released by Insight Editions on September 27, 2016.
If you dig NV Cab, I think that you’ll love everything about this book. Having seen the digital preview, I can tell you that the layout and photos are gorgeous, but then if you’d expect anything less from photographer Bob McClenahan (who more-or-less specializes in capturing gorgeous imagery in the Valley), then you’re not probably paying much attention to CA-wine-related publications these days. Some of the best Cab producers in Napa Valley (and, I’d argue, by extension, the world) will be featured in its pages.
You can pre-order Napa Valley Cabernets: The Best of California’s Wine Country here.