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Notes on a Cellar-Book Hardcover – 7 Oct 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 346 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (7 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520253523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520253520
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 759,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


"An indispensable read... Saintsbury's thoughtful love of drink comes through clearly." SF Chronicle 20081128 As much a model for wine writing as ... an historical document revealing how wines were once regarded and how times have changed. -- John Mariani Bloomberg News 20081201 "If you love to drink wine, and love a good read, you have to get ahold of this book." Vinography 20090419 A glimpse into our viticultural past, as well as a revelation of how great wine and great literature can go hand-in-hand. Good Wine Under $20 20081211 "Few wine books posses the iconic status of George Saintsbury's Notes on a Cellar-Book." Wine Spectator 20081231 "There is much food for thought here, and a facinating window on another age of connoisseurship. " -- Jancis Robinson 20081218 "Read this book twice: once without pausing to flip back and forth-you'll be beguiled, befuddled and amused-and then once with the notes." The Wine News 20081201

About the Author

George Saintsbury (1845-1933) was a journalist, reviewer, critic, editor, and Professor of Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Thomas Pinney is Professor of English Emeritus at Pomona College. Among other books, he is author of A History of Wine in America (in two volumes from UC Press).

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Goloskof on 17 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The new material is in keeping with the man himself.
I can now safely store my first edition. You are NOT a wine or whisky or port lover if you do not own this brilliant historical benchmark! ESSENTIAL!
Now can we have it on "Kindle" please?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The definitive edition of a classic 15 Mar. 2009
By Chambolle - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a wine geek, and perhaps even if you're not, you've heard of Saintsbury's Notes on a Cellar-Book. Prof. Saintsbury (1845-1933) was a journalist and later a professor of English Literature at Edinburgh. Notes on a Cellar-Book is his only book on wine and spirits, published in 1920 towards the end of his career, during the dark days of Prohibition in the United States and a noisy temperance movement in the UK.

Cellar-Book is one of those works that everyone knows about but few people have actually read, and five minutes with an original edition of the book will reveal why. It is so chock full of obscure literary allusions, puns, references to once-current events and other arcane matters that it is almost impossible to follow. I've tried to plough through my own 1920 edition of it unassisted many times over the past couple of decades, and to be perfectly honest, I never really made any headway on the road to comprehension.

Thomas Pinney's new edition includes detailed annotations that finally make the Cellar-Book comprehensible and enjoyable.

So is it all worth it? Yes, if you are seeking an insight into Saintsbury's realm -- the aesthetics of wine and food in a scholarly world that existed before anyone dreamed up the Wine Spectator, Gourmet Magazine, Robert Parker, and the Food Channel. Before celebrity chefs. When an English professor of modest means could enjoy Richebourg and Montrachet, before hedge fund zillionaires who dump ten thousand bucks on a bottle of Burgundy, or a couple million to remodel the corner office.

It's a memoir and a collection of personal observations, not a comprehensive review of any particular wine or wine region, chock full of Saintsbury's remembrances of great meals and bottles he'd enjoyed over a long career of eating and drinking very well, thank you very much, with his college brethren. The Professor also takes every opportunity to toss barbs at prohibitionism and prohibitionists everywhere.

In an appendix, Pinney includes a number of Saintsbury's short articles and essays on wine, not included in the original Cellar-Book. One describes the wine cellar in an elaborate (and elaborately expensive) doll's house that was presented as a gift to Queen Mary in 1924. Yes, just one generous lifespan removed from our own times, but it was definitely another world.

Hats off to Thomas Pinney for bringing that world and this hoary chestnut back to life for modern readers.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Fun Work from an English Eccentric 31 Oct. 2009
By Wine Teacher - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Notes on a Cellar Book", originally published in 1920, was one of the first books on wine in the English language. It kicked off a generation of English wine criticism style that remains to this day. The authur George Saintsbury recalls a life time of imbibing and dining, giving us a glimpse of an era from over a century ago. It is opinionated but that makes it fun. Most of the wines and other drinks mentioned are still the standard of what a serious wine drinker/collector would have today, albeit of the more current vintages. It is not an easy read for someone who does not know a lot about wine. Saintbury's comments would not make much sense to such a person nor would there be much relevance. For a wine neophite whose wine experience is limited to current American and other New World wines, this book will most likely be a disappointment. When Saintsburgy wrote this book, the American wine industry was still in its infancy. American wines were almost completely unavailable in England. Saintbury would not easily have the chance to try them. Most of what he did write about are widely available to us and are the standards of a good wine cellar today. This was "the" book for those interested in wine in the twenties and thirties. Judging by the number of editions and printings since 1920, it has been a reasonably popular book. If one is short in wine knowledge but wanting to read this book, Thomas Pinney the American wine historian, has done an annotated version of this book. Pinney has provided a lot of the background to make this book more accessable to a wine neophite. However, for those who are not able to follow Saintbury on their own and needing Pinney's help, they would probably not find this book interesting enough even with the annotation. You really have to be one interested in European wines to have any reason to read this book. It is a classic, It is a book of a great deal of significance in the history of wine criticism. An older edition is a great gift for any serious wine collector. Many have heard of it but probably have not read it and do not own it.
Of all the cellars in all the world... 19 April 2015
By chris mills - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bringing the academic, the erudite and the sensual together in one great read.
0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I like wine but not this book 10 Sept. 2009
By J. Egger - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Did not enjoy this book at all. Could not get past the first chapter.
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