Posts Filed Under wine products

101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on June 27, 2018 binned in book reviews, wine products
101 Wines to Try Before You Die

image: Amazon.com

Welcome to the June 2018 incarnation of the ongoing series in which I review samples that aren’t in liquid form. I am so, so, sooooooooooooooooooooo far behind in penning thoughts on various tastings and wine travels, but I’m also so, so, sooooooooooooooooooooo far behind in reviewing the never-ending flood of wine book samples coming my way that I felt compelled to knock off at least a small handful for this product roundup.

First up, we have the small-but-powerful 101 Wines to Try Before You Die (Cassell, 244 pages, about $12) by former Wine Magazine editor Margaret Rand. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of list-style books, but Rand’s clever ploy here – in which she devotes two pages each to the wines on her list, including a bottle/label shot – is not to introduce you to individual wines per se, but to get people thinking more about things like Savennières, Hunter Valley Semillon, or Bierzo.

43 Wine Regions

image: Amazon.com

Rand gets bonus points for employing a writing style that’s equal parts matter-of-fact, personal, and humorous (included with each selection’s vitals, such as trophy vintages and whether or not to chill or decant the wine, is a “What Not to Say” section; my personal favorite is probably “Is it German?” under Hugel’s Riesling Schoelhammer entry). 101 Wines to Try Before You Die is an honest and fun, if not essential, walk through some of compelling bottles.

Next, there’s   (Mascot, 144 pages, about $25) by Michael Biddick. Biddick is a sommelier with an IT background, and his upcoming book is essentially full of vignettes about some of the world’s most important wine regions, accompanied by a sort of info-graphic that displays the area’s major grapes, soils, climate, and recent vintages.

Now, at this point, you’re probably asking yourself “why the f–k did he pick 43 regions?!?” and the answer has to do with Biddick’s IT geekdom, and is the kind of thing that’s just begging for controversy…

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The Shady, The Free, And The Godforsaken (May 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on May 23, 2018 binned in wine products
Godforsaken Grapes

image: amazon.com

It’s time once again for our monthly roundup of those wine-related samples received here at 1WD HQ that aren’t actually wine. While the last few months have focused on wine book releases, this month features… well, a wine book release, but also some other stuff that involve your wine-lovin’ eyeballs.

First, let’s get the book thing out of the way; my friend and fellow Philly-area-drinks-type-guy Jason Wilson has a new tome available for your reading pleasure: Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine (Abrams Press, 320 pages, about $20).

The premise of Godforsaken Grapes is that it’s a wine book that isn’t really a wine book, focusing on fine wine grapes like Ramisco, Bastardo, and Mencia that just don’t see the luv in terms of production volume, mind-share, and media coverage. The book also favors a quirky travelogue format, offering chapter titles such as Chateau du Blah Blah Blah, How Big is Your Pigeon Tower?, and The Same Port Dick Chaney Likes; so you know at a glance that you’re in for at least a little bit of Gonzo-style journalism. In other words, regular 1WD readers ought to love this tome.

www.freeart.com

image: freeart.com

Next, we move away from books but stay on print in what might be one of the stranger recommendations for me to have made in the wine product roundups; at least, until we get to the last recommendation in today’s post. I was contacted several weeks ago by the folks at FreeArt.com, who sent me over some of their free wine prints for consideration (the only difference between you ordering the free stuff and me ordering it is that I didn’t have to pay any shipping because review guy!).

There are thousands of wine prints available on their site, with the deal being that they will not charge you for the smaller sizes of said prints (but will charge shipping, framing, etc.). Granted, there’s a lot of filler/fluff among those images, but some of them are pretty badass, and the quality of the prints is very, very good. If you’re looking to round-out the decor for your cellar, or are a winery looking for tasting room art on a budget, this could be an interesting (and cost-effective) way to go…

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In Search Of… The Not-So-perfect (April 2018 Wine Products Roundup)

Vinted on April 25, 2018 binned in wine books, wine products

It’s time here on 1WD for entry in the ongoing wine product sample roundup articles series, in which I try out samples sent to me that are not directly vinous / edible in nature. Once again, I’ve tried to whittle down the pile of wine-related tomes cluttering my office floor, but I also managed to have a sort of battle with (yet another) wine opener-type-thingy…

The Search for Good Wine

image: amazon.com

First, there’s the book: The Search for Good Wine: From the Founding Fathers to the Modern Table, by John Hailman (University Press of Mississippi, 301 pages, about $29). Hailman has been a wine competition judge, has authored a couple of other books, and had a nationally syndicated wine column; The Search for Good Wine pulls from the latter, which is the both the book’s strongest asset and (for me) its greatest source of consternation. This is a compendium of Hailman’s well-written, often witty, more often informative, and always accessible column essays, organized into four main categories (people, places, tips, and humor). They are good reads. The trouble is that (too) many of the essays employ relative references (mostly regarding time), yet lack details about when they were written and published. Not a big deal, until you hit the twentieth or so relative mention, at which point the editor in me (and maybe in you) will want to scream. Anyway, it’s solid work if you can get past that possibly-not-so-minor cavil.

Finally, we have my run-in with Vineyard Elite’s “The Perfect Wine Opener” (https://theperfectwineopener.com, $69.95). With such a haughty moniker, and a price to match, you’d think that this thing would work exceptionally well. And you’d be very, very wrong (based on my usage trials, anyway)…

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Through The Past, Scholarly (March 2018 Wine Product Reviews)

Vinted on March 14, 2018 binned in wine books, wine products

For the most recent batch of wine product sample roundup articles, I’ve been focusing on reducing the pile of wine book sample copies currently littering the floor of my home office. And so for March, I am slowly whittling away at said pile by offering up two more hardcover tomes for your vinous reading consideration. You still read books, right?

French Wine A History

image: amazon.com

Firstly, we have French Wine: A History by Rod Phillips (University of California Press, 319 pages, about $30). That’s an unassuming title for a book with such an ambitious scope. Actually, its scope is bordering on insanity. Beginning from roughly 2500 years ago, Ottawa-based historian Phillips carves up the topical elephant into almost-digestible-sized time period chunks: the period before 1000 CE, the Middle Ages, through to the Enlightenment, the onset of the World Wars, etc. I say “almost” digestible because even each of those chapters is sizeable in terms of the rich historical content and context of the topic (remember, wine involves chemistry, historical events, economics, farming….).

The ground zero / linchpin moment of French Wine if there is one, after which all is forever changed, seems to be the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s. Like the rootstocks of its precious vines, nothing in the French wine world was ever quite the same after the country’s vineyards were decimated by that little louse.

All of this is told in dense, matter-of-fact prose, but Phillips isn’t afraid to call out others’ opinions (even somewhat challenging the venerable Hugh Johnson at one point). It’s not a fast or particularly easy read, but ultimately a worthwhile one. And its conclusion is appropriately bittersweet: France is growing fewer grape vines, producing fewer bottles, and drinking less wine than in its historical apexes, and yet the standard-bearer wines (in terms of quality and prices) are still at the top of the global game; and while we may be seeing a dip overall, the country’s vinous development has been anything but uniform, as French Wine dutifully shows us…

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