Those looking to learn amore bout Spanish wine, and who are cool with receiving a freebie (I really hope that covers most of you out there) might want to check out Far from Ordinary, a free guide to Spanish wine available through Wines From Spain.
Wines From Spain is another government-funded promotional program with the objective of promoting a country’s wines and its wine regions (in this case, Spain – duh) to wine consumers worldwide. We’ve been seeing a lot of those organizations hitting the promotional trails lately, especially since the world economy took a sharp turn towards toiletville.
Far from Ordinary was written with the help of uber-wine guy Doug Frost, who is one of a (very) small handful of people to achieve both the Master Sommelier and Master of Wine credentials. Frost also supplies the tasting notes for the 130+ Spanish wines featured in the guide.
Personally, I’ve little experience with Spanish wines and it ranks right up there with Burgundy on the list of world wine areas that I need to learn (and taste!) more about. Apparently it has me in such a tizzy that just thinking about it causes me to end sentences with prepositions. Having said that, Spanish wine – when you can find it in the States, that is – is a hell of a lot easier to navigate than Burgundy in terms of not breaking both your heart and wallet when you find a dud. So, I’ve only got experience with a small amount of the wines featured in Far from Ordinary but I found the selections with which I’m familiar to be good buys and consistent with Doug Frost’s tasting notes (there – that sentence was better… whew…).
A primer on the major winemaking regions of Spain is also provided in the guide, and it’s bursting out with photographs so stunning that they might better be placed in a Spanish tourism guide – some of the shots will make you want to immediately open a bottle of Cava or Priorat and book travel to the Spanish countryside.
The guide is certainly worth a look (the price, after all, is right).
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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This week, Wine.com – the largest on-line wine retailer, and still everybody’s “love-to-hate-‘em” choice for performing their own self-serving wine distribution ‘sting’ operation last year – has released the third annual list of their top 100 best selling wines.
The top 10 in that list potentially tell us a lot about U.S. consumer wine buying preferences, because of the size of its business (exact numbers are a bit difficult to come by, as the company is still privately held). Here they are (click the image to embiggen):
What those top 10 wines tell us is… well, a bit of something old, and a bit of something new…
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