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4.5 out of 5 stars
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2014
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The 2014 edition of Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book is like its predecessors a true delight. This comes with the slight concern as to how long he can keep calling it a "pocket" book because at over 300 pages it is three times as thick as the one I first purchased in 1980.

As always it is packed with both general and detailed information on the wines of the world. It's not an encyclopaedia of wine as it does not cover every wine or even every wine producing country but it does manage to cover the vast majority. This is not a book for wine snobs (although I would bet that many of them buy this book) but for the vast majority of people who want to have more a detailed wine knowledge at their fingertips. Johnson as always strikes a good balance, not talking down to those who are new or inexperienced in the world of wine, while providing a wealth of information for the more experienced wine lover.

Whether you are buying cases to lay down in your cellar or just popping down to the supermarket to pick up a bottle to have with your Sunday lunch the Pocket Wine Book will be there for you, guiding and informing on one of nature's greatest gifts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 2 December 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There is soon going to come a point where 'pocket' becomes a misnomer as each annual edition seems fatter than its predecessor! I tend to buy the Hugh Johnson Guide one year, and the Oz Clarke equivalent the next. I'd say that the Oz Clarke is perhaps more approachable and easier for the inexperienced to get to grips with (and the text is easier to read too) but there is no doubting the depth of information & experience contained in the Hugh Johnson guide - let's face it he has been writing about wine for well over thirty years.

The guide is split by country and has a brief preamble which gives a view on recent vintages and then follows a detailed summary of producers and the producer or region's output with a guide to what to drink now, recommendations as to the best years, and what to buy to mature further. There is also a star-marking or range of markings for the producer/wines. The vintage reports supplement this and warn you off certain years or encourage you to drink up quickly where appropriate. I also like his comments about once-favoured producers who have gone off the boil, and others who are emerging from the doldrums. The guide covers all the main wine producing areas, including lesser known countries such as Israel, Lebanon, Mexico & Canada with a nod to new places on the way up like China & India.

In my view, Johnson is pitching at an audience that is already interested in wine, rather than a general audience wanting advice on what wine to buy to have with Sunday lunch. There is a certain amount of general information at the beginning, including an 'if you like that, try this' section which gives good pointers and which will help expand horizons, and snippets of information throughout, but overall the information on producers, vintages, etc is probably overkill for many people, particularly if their source of wine is the supermarket (many of the recommended wines will only be available from specialist wine merchants).

The only gripe I have is that as the content has increased, so the typeface used has got smaller (and it was never large to begin with). On occasion I have had to resort to a magnifying glass.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 October 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm no wine expert. When ordering in restaurants I usually leave it to someone else to order and until recently, when I became interested in the subject, my idea of a good bottle of wine was the £4.99 special in the local supermarket. Or something German, and sweet. Recently though I've dragged myself into semi-civilisation and enjoy increasingly fine, and expensive wines.

This book is a huge help in my quest both to enjoy wine, but to learn more about it, as well as to hunt out those hidden gems I might enjoy but haven't been brave, or rich, enough to try.

This fine book is organised by region, and then alphabetically, with each wine getting a couple of sentences describing it and an easy to understand rating. It is also punctuated with info boxes on all kinds of wine related subjects, all of which are a huge help when choosing and learning about the drink.

What I like most about this book though is that it isn't pretentious or complicated. It's thrillingly easy to understand and use, even for someone like me. And for that reason alone it is absolutely worth buying if you've even the smallest interest in what a good wine is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I like to think that I have the average pocket, but according to Hugh Johnson I may not have because his new edition of the `Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2014' is a little too long and thin for me. `2014' may be slightly less of a pocket edition than it used to be, but that does not stop it from being an excellent resource for the wine lover. The book opens with an introduction from the man himself about the recent trends and future direction of wine across the world. More importantly, you also get a mini guide on how to use the book itself.

This is much needed as `2014' is crammed with details of wine produced across the globe. You can look up a supplier, the type of wine they produce and there will likely be a score telling you the standard of the drink. As a non-wine expert the book was a little full on at times and had me lost at first. However, to cater more for this novice reader `2014' has included a star system for good wines that can be found at a reasonable price. This is far more to my liking! I also liked the guide to what wine to drink with what food, very useful.

As with so many annual books `2014' is only good for 12 months, so buy it early if you are going to. There is a little added value at the end of the book with an article on some of the latest trends in wine growing. This basically gives you an idea of the type of person that will get the most out of the book; wine connoisseur or knowledgably novice. For this person, a copy of `Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2014' would be a great addition to help them choose the correct wine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Given the popularity of this pocket guide (over 11 million copies worldwide) you'd half-expect to see small herds of deeply-engrossed wine-lovers roaming supermarket aisles with their noses buried in a copy - or maybe they leave it in the glove compartment and scan it quickly before entering, so as to look effortlessly informed and sophisticated? Either way it's a perfectly formed little guide to what you should, and probably more importantly shouldn't, be seen drinking this year. It takes a bit of effort to attune yourself to the book's abbreviated listings - in fact it's slightly impenetrable at first, but a bit of work with the glossary and the quick reference charts (inside the front and back covers) helps a lot. Reading the introductory articles and grape variety guides at the beginning helps too, all of course having been updated for this issue.

A couple of other things might help too - a good pair of reading spectacles and/or a portable reading light, because apparently getting all these words into your pocket means they have to be printed really small. Plus, if you're really seriously interested in good wine and it's provenance then I'd also recommend a copy of Hugh Johnson's other (co-authored) book The World Atlas of Wine, which makes a perfect (and unashamedly lavish) partner to this slimmed down version. I assume the title is ironic, since this diminutive volume would probably be more accurately named The Empty-Pocket Wine Book, given how many bottles you'll probably sample.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 October 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
this is THE reference guide for all wine lovers

I have a very old copy of this guide and physically it's unchanged as the small size is perfect for a jacket pocket - they got it right first time

inside you have everything from analysis of vintages - what to keep / when to drink - through to a description of regions and characteristics

whether you're an experienced connisseur, or you just want to know where that chianti came from, this is worth having and worth buying again every few years
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2013
The 2014 edition of the Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book is again excellent, each year it brings the latest information on the state of art with respect of all better wines made worldwide. If you are a wine lover and want to be kept up to date on the latest developments and vintages, this handy pocket book is certainly a must. The strongest feature is the information on the French and especially the Bordeaux wines, the latter having a special section. As I have mentioned earlier for the 2013 edition, there is no mentioning of the wines of the Netherlands. Since their quality has improved considerably in recent years, they could also be given a page like presently Luxembourg, or perhaps within a section BeNeLux together with Belgium and Luxembourg. Each year has a different colour supplement at the back of the book, this time on Burgundy and other Pinot Noirs. Compared to the 2013 edition there are many updates, so for a few pounds you are kept well informed. The framework and the presentation of information has remained unchanged over the years, so keep your earlier editions for reference!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book' was first published in 1977; a lot of wine
has flowed under the bridge since then but its Author remains in remarkably
fine fettle; a veritable fountain of wisdom with regard to all things vinous.

The format of this book has changed little over the years. A largely reliable
compendium of what's worth drinking and what's not in a World of many wines.
The contents are arranged by country of production with France and Italy
dominating. Thereafter grower/producer titles, pointers to worthy vintages and
brief descriptive notes are both easy to navigate and surprisingly informative
despite Mr Johnson's mandate to maintain an economical brief (336 crammed pages).

The 2014 edition includes an interesting feature on Burgundy and other Pinot Noirs.

Highly Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have only recently become interested in drinking wine, i always thought it tasted like sour vinegar.

However i was recently taken to a very posh hotel with a very expensive dinner and tried a bottle of £150 red wine. It was like liquid silk in my mouth, cant remember what it was though but that old saying you get what you pay for springs to mind.

I grabbed this to try and educate myself further, and i have found some lovely selections from it already.

Obviously you dont want to be spending hundreds on a bottle everytime and i liked the star rating.

Very helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Not a wine encyclopedia but a reference book that leads the way through an ocean of wine related guff and points you in the direction of a decent bottle, or case, without the need for 'science'. Succinct, to the point, and easy to follow with a good mixture of facts and personal comments running alongside the more usual features such as 'wine and food'. I particularly enjoyed the section 'if you like this, try this' which gave me a few new ideas.

One of those books you can't help but keep dipping in and out of and one that's extremely useful to those buying for pleasure or buying for business.
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