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Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World's Top Wine Professionals [Kindle Edition]

Rajat Parr , Jordan Mackay , Ed Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A fascinating exploration of the inside world of sommeliers, sharing their unique perspectives, extensive expertise, and best stories.

Rajat Parr’s profound knowledge of wines, deep relationships with producers, and renowned tasting abilities have made him a legend in the business. As wine director for the Mina Group, Parr presides over the lists at some of the country’s top restaurants. In Secrets of the Sommeliers, Parr and journalist Jordan Mackay present a fascinating portrait of the world’s top wine professionals and their trade. The authors interviewed the elite of the sommelier community, and their colleagues’ insights, recommendations, and entertaining stories are woven throughout, along with Parr’s own takes on his profession and favorite winemakers and wines. Along the way, the authors give an immersion course in tasting and serving wine; share strategies for securing hard-to-find bottles at a good price and identifying value sweetspots among the many regions; and teach readers how to make inspired food pairings.

Winner - 2011 James Beard Cookbook Award - Beverage Category

From the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2719 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (19 Oct. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046H9KTK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,421 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. 14 Mar. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great Book. Excellent Condition. Money well spent.

Well recommended salesman!
If you re a not a wine lover, you might just become one after this one!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 27 Feb. 2015
By Bogusia
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
everything was great, .. very quick delivery time. Very satisfied
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chock full of good advice 3 Nov. 2010
By Chambolle - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let's start with the worst part of this book: the title. I had to hold my nose and buy it despite the horrible do it yourself, self improvement/self congratulatory vibe of that clumsy moniker. But don't let that keep you from buying this informative and entertaining book, whether you are in the wine trade, a serious amateur, or just a wanna be.

Ed Anderson's excellent photography is one of the draws. There are some really stunning portraits of Dominique Lafon, Jean-Marc Roulot, Freddy Mugnier, Etienne de Montille and others.

Another plus is the collection of biographical sketches of a number of high profile sommeliers -- Larry Stone, Rajat Parr, Daniel Johnnes, Kevin Zraly and others. It's always interesting to read how other people found their true calling.

But the most valuable part of the book is the common sense advice about buying wine, where to find it, and how to cellar and serve it; along with insights into the day to day joys, trials and tribulations of the folks who serve the stuff up in tony restaurants across the land. There are brief profiles of the great wine grapes and the best examples of each -- pinot noir, cabernet, merlot, cabernet franc, and so on. A discussion of the pros and cons of buying wine at auction, and how to find the best deals by avoiding the 'blue chip' names and vintages and using your wine knowledge to get value for money. A discussion of wine and food matching. How to pick your way through a restaurant wine list to find the hidden treasures to be found in just about every good list.

A number of reviewers here appear offended that the book strongly emphasizes the wines of Burgundy. If that bothers you, I suppose you should stay away. If that emphasis doesn't trouble you, or if it might even be a draw, as it is for me, then by all means pick up a copy.

It's a fun ride. Well worth reading. And apparently I'm not alone in that view - this just won a James Beard Foundation award for one of the best food and wine books of the year.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Approachable book to an intriguing culture 23 Dec. 2010
By tiney928 - Published on
A great book
Some of the other reviewers completely missed the point of this book. Yes, there's a strong focus on Burgundy and on fine wine in general, but that's what sommeliers do. It's not meant to be a book to teach how you to buy Shiraz at the grocery store, but rather how to blind taste, pair and shop for classic wines. There's no snobbery here, just a love of the truest, purest wines, something I want to know about, and the authors here deliver the goods. In addition, there's stuff here that never gets address, such how to properly serve wine to make your dinner parties better, how to pair with different kinds of fish, and how to recognize different varieties in a blind tasting. I learned so much from this book.
58 of 72 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time 6 Feb. 2011
By Schpapsch - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am not sure why sommeliers get so excited about Rajat Parr. My wife thinks that this is a great read and chock full of knowledge. I am a lowly wine layman and find this book plodding, conceitful, and far too self-congratulatory. A couple of random points:

1) His summary dismissal of Rioja is offensive. There are plenty of lousy riojas but many amazing wines as well with low alcohol and good acids.
2) His inclusion of "All-Time Favorites" wines is absurd. 1870 Laffite? 1947 Cheval Blanc? I'll make sure to pick up a bottle or two next time I have a hundred thousand dollars laying around.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical wine book 22 Dec. 2010
By cookstr - Published on
Many of the wine books out there are either straight buying guides, which can be useful but make for dull reading; or they are doorstop-style reference books that are valuable for experts but generally TMI for everyone else. Parr's book gives consumers loads of great info on buying and appreciating wines, layered with an in-depth behind the scenes look into the world of fine wine services, from the perspective of someone who has total access. His personal story is fascinating, as are the portraits of some of the top sommeliers from around the country. It's a great read for aspiring professionals and pretty much anyone who has an interest in the wine world.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wine industry professional review ~ (Updated) 27 Feb. 2013
By Christopher Barrett - Published on
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I respect the many of the folks mentioned in this book; on the other hand, Parr is portraying their 'clique' as a group of rock stars that have impeccable palates. The tone gets very cocky, though never really condescending.

I also looked into a few things. In the beginning of the book the authors (Mr. Parr being one of them - shame on him for using the third person!) speak of studying for the MS exams. Ironically Mr. Parr does not actually have an MS certification, though the tone and wording of this introduction suggest otherwise.

For a better and much more humble (and better written) book by a wine industry professional check these out:
Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass
Reading between the Wines: With a New Preface

I expected secrets of the sommeliers to be either: a) good look into what makes a good sommelier, or b) a look into the experience of becoming a sommelier. I did expect some funny stories, maybe some humor... But what the book needs a dose of humility. First Parr discusses his own rise to becoming a sommelier (in 3rd person mind you...), then he has short bios on other wine industry professionals, but this comes as more of a 'shout out' to his friends who have worked towards their MS (Master Sommelier) certification.

The next section is a brief bio of grapes, but Parr gives three examples of each, the top two usually being unattainable for regular folks, the third, a value wine but often very obscure (and obviously chosen because I think Mr. Parr respects and enjoys the rarity). Actually the listings under riesling were the few that are more available (though Donnhoff sells out quickly at most retailers).

This isn't a book to really learn anything from. If anything it comes across as a self congratulation of sorts. Many of the stories discuss secretive midnight tastings and blind tastings where everyone is guessing region and vintage (it's tougher than it looks). I've hit up several of these types of tastings with other restaurant folks, and they're not that mysterious. Usually we would have a few open bottles from each of our restaurants, perhaps a few others. Nobody was bringing in $2000 bottles of DRC, I find it hard to really believe that's happening every day. And even if it is, it really comes across as rather boastful. When we ended up with Ridge Monte Bello, Chateau Margaux (from an average year), and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild we were tickled!

For wine education stick with the Sotheby's, Johnson's Atlas, and Robinson's Oxford. For entertainment, go with one of the aforementioned titles. Or read: An Ideal Wine: One Generation's Pursuit of Perfection - and Profit - in California. Parr's book interested me as a wine industry professional, but I think that he geared this towards the fawning crowd that hangs on celeb chef's and somm's every words. It's part of the Twitter following crowd that I think this would appeal to. Those either in awe of Parr's amazing talent, or those who are unfamiliar with the world of top flight Sommeliers. They will probably read this and either be turned off, or think that these guys are gods.
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