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The Oxford Companion to Wine Hardcover – 14 Oct 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (14 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019866236X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198662365
  • Product Dimensions: 27.7 x 5.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 294,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Wine head girl Jancis Robinson publishes a new edition of her acclaimed Oxford Companion to Wine, coming as close as anybody is likely to in achieving the unachievable goal of a detailed, comprehensive, single-volume work of reference covering the whole world of wines. Just how daunting the task of keeping up with the now practically supersonic pace of development in many areas of the wine industry must be is indicated by the need, only five years after the first edition, to issue another with updated versions of about half the 3,000 entries. It is an awesome achievement. Wine is now a modern, global industry: Jancis Robinson and her team of contributors require--and deliver--expertise in a really astonishing range of disciplines.

Practically every field of human knowledge seems to have something to contribute. From geology and soil chemistry, through forestry and the nature of the different woods used for barrels and the harvesting of cork bark, to the cultivation of the vine, its training and pruning, and the techniques of fermentation; the list extends even into areas of cutting-edge science such as DNA fingerprinting (which finally in 1997 unravelled the mystery of the parentage of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape--no, wild horses wouldn't drag it from me, you'll have to buy the book). This is not to mention the thorough coverage of wine regions and grape varieties, the role of wine through history and its presence in art, the glossary entries. One could go on and on. This is a stupendous feat of organisation. More than that, it is throughout well written and lively, and in possession of a healthy quantity of attitude. --Robin Davidson

Review

"This is an invaluable resource for serious wine drinkers who never quench their thirst for learning about varietals, appellations, wine history, and vineyards."--Business Week"The greatest wine book ever published.... A worthy purchase even for those who already own its predecessor."--Michael Franz, The Washington Post"An encyclopedic reference.... If it's not here, it has nothing to do with wine."--Wine and Spirits"A wine lover's best friend."--La Cucina Italiana"The preeminent basic resource for wine lovers.... It is hard to believe that editor Jancis Robinson could improve upon a work whose first edition was so universally lauded, but indeed she has."--Wine EnthusiastReviews of the first edition: "A required reference for anyone who is serious about wine."--Frank J. Prial, The New York Times"Jancis Robinson has become the Julia Child of wine."--Newsday"One of the definitive reference books on the subject."--Anthony Dias Blue"Easily the most complete compendium of wine knowledge assembled in modern times.... Essential to even the smallest library of wine books."--The New York Times"This may be the most important book on wine to appear in the past 20 years....The very existence of this book stands as evidence of the significance of wine in our culture.... This volume will enhance the usefulness of every other wine book by providing authoritative explanations of the nuts and bolts that others treat only in passing."--The Washington Post

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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Nov 2000
Format: Hardcover
Great 'Bible' for wine lovers. A comprehensive encyclopedia of wine ranging from types of grape and regions of wine production to detailed discriptions of the qualities of different grape varieties. This book is a must for the wine lover or the interested novice. One small criticism would be the over attention to detail in the history of each wine region and not enough comment on the actual flavours and qualities of each grape variety/growing region. Otherwise a top notch publication.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary White TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Aug 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This guide is invaluable and has just about every wine term, grape variety, vineyard profile covered. It is very well written and authoritative. I bought a secondhand one (2000 edition), so some of the producer profiles are a bit out of date but worthwhile nonetheless. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough....
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60 of 78 people found the following review helpful By "hurburgh" on 18 Oct 2002
Format: Hardcover
.
Thirty years ago this book could not have been written. With the increasing ascendancy of the New World wine makers and in particular the influence of the Davis campus of the University of California, viticulture and oenology are now rigorous, scientific and commercially oriented professions. This is reflected in the "Oxford Companion to Wine" which has to be the most comprehensive, authoritative and accessible resource dealing with all aspects of the world of wine.
Jancis Robinson who edited this encyclopedia of wine is a highly respected wine writer and educator. She is also very well credentialled, holding the prestigious title of "Master of Wine".
The real power of this book as an information source is the very effective use of cross-references. Its great fun to see how far one reference will take you on subjects of particular interest to the reader. It would be good to see this book published as a CD-ROM. Hyper-linking all the cross-references would make it even more powerful.
The changes in the wine business over the past generation have seen the previously exclusive, "clubbiness", almost snobby world of fine wine appreciation opened up to everyone. It is books like this that have provided the sources of knowledge which give people the confidence and curiosity to pursue their interest and enjoyment of wine.
France is the traditional home of fine wine. The French approach to wine making is still dominated by practices and methodologies that go back centuries. It is interesting to see in the "Oxford Companion" the strong contrast between the empirically rigorous New World (particularly USA and Australian) methods and the mystery (or mystique) that even today, shrouds much of the French industry.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
144 of 147 people found the following review helpful
*The* reference for anyone who enjoys wine 26 Oct 2000
By Lisa Shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some reference books sit on the shelf, forgotten, hoping to be used someday in the future when someone has a desperate need to know how to calculate the third log value of an arctangent.
This book is as far removed from that fate as a Petrus is from a White Zinfandel!
At least once a week I have opened up this gorgeous wine tome and looked up the answer to a question, or read more about a particular wine I was enjoying. With over 3,000 entries to choose from, you can explore the ancient roots of wine in Iraq and Egypt, or learn about new vine-growing techniques winemakers are using in Washington State. The information is clearly written, well illustrated, and not overly technical.
Jancis Robinson, the editor of the tome, is well known in the industry for her knowledge and fluency in wines of all types. Combine her amazing knowledge with fantastic photographs of each wine region, and even reviews of various personalities in wine, and you have a book that you'll keep on the coffee table and actually read often! Be warned - you can lose guests in its pages for hours.
The book is great for a beginner. Confused about Beaujolais Nouveau? Want to know how a White Zinfandel differs from a Red Zinfandel? The Oxford Companion to Wine has clear, concise descriptions of all wine types, explaining their histories, their characteristics, and where they're found now.
The Companion is also a boon for experienced drinkers. It goes into the fine details of how wines are grown, and how various winemakers use different techniques to bring out the best in their particular grapes. There are maps of wine regions, and insights into what makes certain wines unique.
Great as a gift for your favorite wine drinker, but buy one for yourself, too! The book is a wonderful reference tool to have around the house. With its lovely photos of France, Italy, and Spain, it serves as a wine-lovers guide to places to visit or dream about, and wines to drink while doing so. Highly recommended as the only wine book you should ever need.
78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
An Exhaustive (but not exhausting) Wine Reference 16 Dec 1999
By Frederic Woodbridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The sheer breadth of what this astounding book offers is almost too good to be true. I just started out learning about wine and I wish this had been the first book I cracked open. Jancis Robinson shows her immense talent as an editor and should be commended. If you're learning about wine, this is the book to get. If you already know about wine, get it anyway. You won't reget the purchase.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
The best wine reference book in existence 14 July 2000
By Peter Meyaart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a wine industry professional and card-carrying wine geek I can say that this is the single best wine reference book out there. If you're a beginner look elsewhere, but if you're someone who needs to know the grape parentage of Huxelrebe or the history of Chateauneuf du Pape then this is the book.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Thank Goodness for This Book 31 Mar 2006
By Tracy E. Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I use the Oxford Companion constantly! Wine terms and references can be a bit confusing at times and that's where this book comes in. This book is organized in alphabetical order so if you see a wine related term or word that needs some splain' just refer to The Oxford Companion to Wine.

I don't recommend this book for the wine novice because it can be intimidating. It is essentially an encylopedia/dictionary and over 2000 pages and as heavy as a half a sack of bricks. I think that if you gave this book to a beginner it would be overwhelming and might dampen their interest and we don't want that to happen. I use this book as companion to the wine text book I am using at the moment. I sit down and read my assigned text and then follow up by refering to the Oxford Companion. I can't tell you how many times the light bulb has gone off after reading the Companion.

The book reveals info on grape types. winemaking techniques and terms, wine regions, vine training methods, oak barrels, wine pioneers,wine producers, maps,photos and illustrations. Even though it is jammed packed with wine info I don't find it to be stuffy. I find that Ms.Robinson's (editor) personality comes through.

Over the years I have purchased a second copy because I take pages out of one so that I can carry a few pages with me on topics that I know I will encounter during the day (I work in the wine industry). Yes there is also the abridged version of the Oxford Companion but I prefer the original.

While this is not a cover to cover read (which I have attempted)I think you will find it to be a welcome edition to your wine library and an excellent reference tool.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
FROM VINE TO WINE ------- A MINE OF INFORMATION 12 Dec 2000
By "hurburgh" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
.
Thirty years ago this book could not have been written. With the increasing ascendancy of the New World wine makers and in particular the influence of the Davis campus of the University of California, viticulture and oenology are now rigorous, scientific and commercially oriented professions. This is reflected in the "Oxford Companion to Wine" which has to be the most comprehensive, authoritative and accessible resource dealing with all aspects of the world of wine.
Jancis Robinson who edited this encyclopedia of wine is a highly respected wine writer and educator. She is also very well credentialled, holding the prestigious title of "Master of Wine".
The real power of this book as an information source is the very effective use of cross-references. Its great fun to see how far one reference will take you on subjects of particular interest to the reader. It would be good to see this book published as a CD-ROM. Hyper-linking all the cross-references would make it even more powerful.
The changes in the wine business over the past generation have seen the previously exclusive, "clubbiness", almost snobby world of fine wine appreciation opened up to everyone. It is books like this that have provided the sources of knowledge which give people the confidence and curiosity to pursue their interest and enjoyment of wine.
France is the traditional home of fine wine. The French approach to wine making is still dominated by practices and methodologies that go back centuries. It is interesting to see in the "Oxford Companion" the strong contrast between the empirically rigorous New World (particularly USA and Australian) methods and the mystery (or mystique) that even today, shrouds much of the French industry.
One of the best illustrations of this dichotomy in the Companion is the entry on "Terroir". This French term encapsulates the mystique that defines a particular vine growing area. It goes well beyond the issue of soil and microclimate but instead embraces everything that makes a particular wine unique.
In the "Companion" the terroir debate seems to come down on the side which believes the term is used to cover vagueness and explain characteristics that are otherwise difficult to explain. This allows sometimes ordinary wine to be passed off as something special.
Compare this to the innovative, scientifically supported approaches used in the New World. A good example is the development of "Canopy Management" the varying techniques used to optimize the yield and ripening characteristics of a grapevine.
Similarly we have see the arrival of "flying winemakers" from Australia into regions like the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France. They have introduced stainless steel fermentation vessels, temperature control and meticulous cleanliness, to what was previously a very rough and ready local business. They are now producing some of the some best Merlots, acknowledged by even the French.
This book will no doubt become the definitive reference book on all matters to do with the world of wine. It will be of the highest value to both the wine professional and the enthusiastic wine lover.
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