Articles Tagged book review

Wine Between The Covers (3 Wine Books For Oenophiles To Grab Before The Summer Reading Season Ends)

Vinted on September 4, 2012 binned in book reviews, wine books

There’s still time, people.

Summer’s muggy, sunny weeks are not yet entirely on the wane. They’re just mostly on the wane. And so those bibliophile oenophiles who are looking for last-minute beach-side vacation or porch-side stay-cation reading to accompany a cold glass of Italian Vermentino in the hazy heat (you are drinking Vermentino, right?) still have time to indulge both of their passions before the leaves turn brown.

Which all felt like a reasonable excuse, I thought, to take a swipe at the growing stacks of wine book samples that have been piling up on my office floor (not quite as bad as my stacks of wine bottle samples, but it’s getting close!). I.e., let me trudge through the drudge so that you won’t have to!

That swipe yielded three books worth mentioning, all of which avoid being weighty tomes or polemics on wine philosophy, and are light-hearted enough in tone and design to fit right in with the collective American penchant for light Summer reading

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When The World’s Greatest Foodie Took On Wine

Vinted on May 15, 2012 binned in book reviews

Mary Frances Kennedy (M.F.K.) Fisher shuffled off the mortal coil twenty years ago this Summer.

Twenty years on after her departure, her status has not change a single jot: Fisher’s still the greatest food writer who has ever lived.

Don’t believe me? Try out the latest collection of some of her work, Musings On Wine And Other Libations (about $18; I received a review copy), which focuses almost exclusively on Fisher’s wine prose and is edited by Anne Zimmerman (who last year wrote the book on Fisher – literally).

What you will find is a writer who had an ability to ingrain context into wine tales that was so uncannily pure that I suspect it was enmeshed within her DNA, along with an editor who puts context on top of all that context. Musings On Wine And Other Libations ends up providing a surfeit of context that should get most wine geeks swooning.

And when you read Fisher’s insightful musing about vino, know this: as god as it is, it probably isn’t even her best writing

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Art Vs. Artifice In The Search For Natural Wine

Vinted on August 22, 2011 binned in book reviews, wine books

“That’s just… man, that’s just… NOT right!”

The above quote is from a friend of mine, in reaction to learning that some of his favorite wines – and, in fact, probably most wines – are made with grapes purchased from growers. As in, grapes that did not come from a patch of land directly behind a winery building on a farm somewhere, tended with care by the winemaker’s own hands.

Imagine how he would have felt if he’d seen the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s list of “Materials authorized for the treatment of wine and juice.”  While it’s not quite as bad as the list of additives that are used to “enhance” our processed foodstuffs, it certainly feels a lot more “McDonald’s” than “Old MacDonald.”

As consumers, lacking evidence to the alternative we have a tendency to assume (naively) that what we consume is fundamentally natural, or that a “natural” product is somehow a superior one.  This premise – that the natural is always the better – serves as a driving force behind award-winning wine journalist Alice Feiring’s new book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally ($10 eBook, or about $15 in print – I received an advanced review copy).

Feiring is a self-proclaimed polarizing figure in the wine world, and if her intention with Naked Wine was to solidify her controversial status, she could hardly have chosen a better cement than the topic of “natural wine”…

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Can A Wine Critic’s Opinion Really Be Trusted? (Dissecting the Pontifications of Bettane & Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France)

Vinted on June 13, 2011 binned in book reviews, commentary

Too much of a good thing, can, in fact, be had, especially when you’re talking about wine books; the sight alone of which used to bring me great pleasure but now fills me with a OMG-I’ve-got-term-paper-due-soon type of dread because I’ve not so much as glance at most of them let alone reviewed them.

First off, wine books tend to be weighty – as in, literally weighty, heavy, and requiring a lot of storage space. In the case of my current stock of wine book samples, they are taking up an increasingly alarming percentage of my office floor space, as they sit in grim admonition of my incapability to keep up even a modest a review schedule… MOCKING ME WITH THEIR SILENCE!!!

Anyway… I’ve been making a (half-hearted but) concerted effort to chip away at the wine book sample library that has now grown out of my floor space, and so picked up the nearest to my desk chair, which happened to be Bettane and Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France By Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve (about $25 at Amazon.com).

Michel Bettane, France’s most recognizable wine critic, is (I’d argue, anyway) prone to pontification (something I noted when hearing him speak last year in Cahors). He lives up to that  reputation in this new guide – which in-and-of-itself is a capable, handy abd well-researched reference on a wide swath of French wine.  It’s in the guide’s Frequently Asked Questions section that the pontification is on display, when the authors directly address the question, “Can a wine critic’s opinion really be trusted?”

In this case, Bettane and Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France is not just weighty in heft, but also in tone; and the answer it offers to that potentially deep query is alternatively defensive, poignant, and downright… odd

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