on 31 January 2008
Drinking and enjoying wine should be a pleasure no matter what the person's knowledge or experience is. It should never be a daunting experience, one should never feel intimidated when buying or choosing a wine.
Ms. Maclean's book is about this simple albeit sometimes forgotten concept. Her book is not for those wine freaks who know everything about a winemaker's family, nor it is a technical book in the strict sense. Yes, it will teach even the most accomplished wine enthusiast a thing or two, but it's never ostentatious nor boring, rather quite the opposite. "Red, White and Drunk All Over" is simply an ode to the most incredible beverage ever invented and through a series of anectodes Ms. Maclean brings the matter back to earth from the heavens where, it seems it usually resides by reading other accomplished writers.
Not only Natalie Maclean is witty and resourceful, but her self deprecating humor is a breath of fresh air and her book will be dear to all those who want to enjoy a good bottle without being too serious and pedantic about it.
This book provides a more holistic view of wine - it's not about tasting and ranking, it's about drinking - the effect as much as the taste.
Red, White & Drunk All Over is - as the subtitle suggests - a journey from grape to glass, or more accurately, a journey from ground to vine to grape to bottle to wine writer to retailer to glass to mouth...
The big success of the book is that it gets a great deal of information over (some of it quite technical) without the reader ever feeling lectured to - or worse still, 'written at', something I feel sometimes with other wine writers.
As a former tech marketer, MacLean knows that keeping the audience's attention while trying to educate them in a technical subject requires a special kind of writing. So what we get is a book full of entertaining and amusing anecdote and a great deal of self-depreciating humour.
In the earlier parts of the book, the winemakers themselves can be relied upon to provide entertainment - some of them are eccentric others downright bonkers. Later in the book, MacLean has to provide the entertainment herself - by becoming a wine retailer for the day or a sommalier for the evening.
This role-playing is a great conceit - it allows the author to impart a lot of information about wine in the context in which we usually encounter it (in a shop or with food) and without patronising us. And this is the difference between 'them and us' when it comes to wine writers - at several points in the book, there is an admission that wine critics taste wine at tastings - the rest of us with dinner or sat on the patio on a Saturday evening. This book is different.
This review appears in more detail on my blog - linked from my profile (just click my name above).
on 31 March 2011
I have recommended this book to so many people - it is a great read if you are in the least bit interested in wine. Natalie Maclean is self-deprecating and funny, and has created an accessible overview of this subject which is is all too often vast, elitist and intimidating.