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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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2009-12-05

Vinted on December 5, 2009 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 07 Castello Monaci “Piluna” Primitivo (Salento): Italy’s boot heel delivers a tasty value of spicy, peppery black fruit Zin kick to yo face! #
  • 08 Penns Woods Traminette (PA): Gino Razzi’s attempt at a “simple” sipper instead yields semi-complex layers of pear, lychee, spice & cream. #
  • 07 Kanonkop Pinotage (Stellenbosch): Que up ‘Funkytown’ because this black fruited bacony beauty is gonna take you there. “Gotta move on…” #
  • 07 Raats Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch): A striking profile – quince, honey, lemon, butter, & piercing ginger. Give it another 2 yrs… #
  • 07 Lucienne Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands): Is it tasty? Yes. But is it also too Jammy? Yes. Pinot for Zin lovers? #
  • 07 Hugel Gewurztraminer “Hugel” (Alsace): Her Spicyness has awoken. She is beautiful & hungry, and she demands Thai food immediately! #

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Wine.com Top 100 of 2009 and the Not-So-Changing Tide of Wine Sales

Vinted on December 4, 2009 binned in wine buying

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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Cruvee Kicks-off OwnIT Initiative

Vinted on December 3, 2009 binned in wine industry events

This week, Cruvee (rhymes with groovy), a firm that offers business intelligence and performance management services for the wine industry to help them mine the vast field of on-line social networking, launched an interesting initiative targeted at simplifying wine brand data across the Internet.

That sounds boring, right? 

But… it has the potential to be a huge step forward for the wine industry in terms of using technology to help master how basic information about the 6000+ wine brands available in the U.S. are portrayed on-line (rather than the technology mastering how the wine brands are portrayed).

If that sounds boring, consider that it could make your life easier when you’re looking for wine.  Now, that’s not too boring, is it?  If it is, you’re reading the wrong blog, my friend.  Being able to make more sense out of traversing the thousands of wine brands available sure appeals to me.

I spoke to Evan Cover, Cruvee’s Founder & CEO, about the initiative (called ‘OwnIT’), and it has promise – provided Cruvee can score the right level of participation from both ends of the wine distribution spectrum…

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