With this incredible book, it's hard to even know where to start.
Ever since I accidentally opened a friend's bottle of '86 Heitz Napa cabernet and fell in love, I've been studying wine whenever I get a chance. I've purchased books like "The Wall Street Journal's Guide to Understanding Wine," "Wine for Dummies," and some more advanced "grape-specific" books. After reading through a few pages of this book, I was blown away and proceeded to spend two hours engrossed in one of the most entertaining books I've ever read - even among non-wine books! I laughed throughout, poked on by Oldman's extremely clever wit and knowledge.
The book can be used as a reference - lately I've been checking it to make sure I'm serving Fume Blanc (same as Sauvignon Blanc, as I've found out) at the appropriate temperature - but it's more likely that you'll read this as a novel. A very, very entertaining one.
Among the valuable things I've picked up from the book - besides the already-cited examples of what prominent and celebrity wine lovers like to have on their tables - include:
- How to pronounce everything related to wine you ever worried about trying to say. I'm talking about Riedel, Taittinger, Chateau Cos d'Estournel and Moet, which is pronounced "Mo-EHT, not Moe-AY."
- The many affordable options in the world of wine - encouraging those who are either shy, unadventurous, poor or all of the above to try new, good-value wines.
- What wines to pair with food, and more importantly why - from the science to the history to what is most accepted in popular culture (things like champagne and cake at weddings) even though they technically might not taste that great together.
- Decoding the many different designations: reserva, gran reserva, brut, extra-dry, sec, demi-sec, classico, classico riserva... to a point where you're more than comfortable with them.
- Wine etiquette and a generous helping of insider information on getting the most bang-for-your-buck at a restaurant without looking like a cheapskate.
If you're a wine lover and think you know everything about wine, you'll prove yourself wrong with this book. If you're a wine consumer, you will at least double the value of wine you drink - just based on how much more you'll appreciate what's in your glass. If not that, then on the tips Oldman gives you to save dough. It will likely be both. Even if you don't know anything about wine, this book will grab you in.
I've watched my girlfriend - who didn't care much for my wine obsession before - turn into an crazed fan: we were at Costco (tips on this, too!) and she replaced the bottle of BV cabernet I chose for dinner with a Pinot Noir because "Pinot Noir goes better with smoked sausage."
I'm obviously a very big fan. This book has been worth every penny.