This book is really a travel memoir about one man's journey into the wine world, and not necessarily a "wine book." Understand that and you can get a lot of pleasure out of this one. For those who love tongue-in-cheek humor, it's also worth a few laughs.
I'm a reader, but also a wine enthusiast. I don't drink wine often, but I try to read up and stay informed. Imagine my surprise when I was given this book as a gift. You see, I am familiar with Lawrence Osborne's fiction, having read his first novel years ago. Ania Malina (King Penguin) But I had no idea that he wrote about wine.
First and foremost, Mr. Osborne is a very accomplished writer. His fiction has somehow flown under the radar in the states. The flowery writing style he uses in this book differs from his fiction and brings more of his own "voice" to the memoir. While he can be a little wordy, he comes across more as genuine and not at all pompous. He is very honest and openly admits the gaps in his wine knowledge. Yes, he does take a few sarcastic jabs at some of the wine makers, but he does so respectfully. Clearly, he simply disagrees with some of the places the wine world is going, with $1000 bottles and ivory tower ratings.
The book takes you through a dozen or so excursions to wineries in California, Italy and France. By the end of the book, the writer seems tired of the wine world and is comfortable just to enjoy wine for what it is.
- This book is not for those seeking wine education. It is a great travel journal about one man's quest to scratch the surface of the wine culture.
- The author's random insertions of historical background throughout his travels seemed at times to be out of place or overdone. It is informative and I definitely learned. A little rearranging and some more edits would have made it better for me.
- I can see how some would criticize the lack of a traditional climax. This memoir still made sense to me as a real experience. I disagreed with some of the author's ideas, but in the end, the author's perspective comes across as genuine.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and plan to read it again in the future. I only wonder why 4 years have passed since the author's last book. I hope you'll give this one a try.