Few people have tasted enough wines and can remember them so that they can pick out the best buys when confronted with many unexpected choices. As a result, many people will purchase disappointing and overpriced wines . . . thinking they have made a good choice. Take this little guide with you, and you will soon be rewarded with much better drinking at your meals.
Obviously, the wine connoisseur who can afford to drink the best and lay in extensive stocks to age will seldom be caught out, having done great research in the past. The person who is trying to drink well on a budget will be the primary beneficiary.
Restaurants in particular often stock what they got a deal on, and may offer vintages that are not yet ready to drink or are undistinguished.
The section on foods and wines will give you some new ideas on how to more closely complement a specific meal.
If you do find yourself with a magnificent wine list in front of you (and can afford it), there's a brief list of the ultimate wines to drink in an ideal world.
The book also has directions for ideal temperatures to serve the wines, so when the sommelier asks you about preparation you can have more definite ideas.
Most of the book is divided into geographic region, winery, wine type, quality, vintage information (including which ones are ready to drink), and limited notes about specific characteristics. It's a very broad and superficial source, but takes you past what you would know without it. The advice is based on Hugh Johnson's tastings and those of over 40 friends whom he acknowledges.
By the way, I think this book would make a marvelous gift to someone who is often treating you to rather bad wine at expensive prices. Then, you both will receive a gift.
A votre sante!