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Reading Between the Wines: With a New Preface Paperback – 30 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (30 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520271491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520271494
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 360,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"As thoughtful of a rumination on wine and the beauty of being human, in all of our fragility, that you are ever likely to find in a wine book or any book for that matter."--"Forbes"

"This discussion is general enough that every degree of wine aficionado, from the casual to the deadly serious, can find something of interest."--Bob Walch"Bookloons.com" (08/29/2011)

This discussion is general enough that every degree of wine aficionado, from the casual to the deadly serious, can find something of interest. --Bob Walch"Bookloons.com" (08/29/2011)"

From the Inside Flap

"There is only one reason that the American wine enthusiast is now completely enamored with German and Austrian wines: Terry Theise! This glorious book not only brilliantly showcases one man's love affair with all the beauties that can flow from the bottle, it definitively makes the case for the wines that are the most superbly suited to be served with food."Chef Charlie Trotter
"Terry Theise's humane, subtle and engaging book illustrates the superiority of wisdom to mere knowledge. Read and be richer."Andrew Jefford, columnist for "Decanter" and "The World of Fine Wine"
"Impassioned, insistent, and inimitable, Terry Theise is America's foremost wine philosopher. Lots of writers can explain the "what" of wine. Terry, uniquely, inspires us with the 'why'. I devoured "Reading Between the Wines"; it's the single best book I've ever read on why wine matters."Karen MacNeil, author of "The Wine Bible"
"If you think you know something about wine, try Terry Theise's "Reading Between the Wines" because until you do, you haven't really started."Tom Stevenson, author of "Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia""

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fabulous book for anybody at all interested in wine. The author is so moved by some of the wines he tastes that tears come into his eyes.

He will tell you how to find really interesting wines that don't cost a fortune.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9db2c1f8) out of 5 stars 26 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c093660) out of 5 stars A necessity on a wine lover's shelves 19 Aug. 2010
By Katie Pizzuto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Any man who quotes Anaïs Nin in a book about wine automatically gets bonus Gonzo points from me, and if in same said book he's got wordplay with Blue Öyster Cult lyrics, well I develop a crush that tends to sway me to overlook the fact that I needed to keep a dictionary handy while reading his book, because I've simply never had cause to use words like ecumenical or pusillanimous. Terry Theise, iconic importer and rock star wannabe, will be the first to tell you that "there's a lot of lousy prose and shallow thinking out there" in the world of wine writing, but his is as far removed from that sad description as wine writing can possibly get, and I'm thankful for it.

My bookshelves are burdened down with tomes about wine. They're bowed with the weight of books given biblical status for their wealth of information and books that serve as little more than romantic memoirs about wine-soaked lives. But there are very few--in fact only one other I can think of besides this, Nossiter's "Liquid Memory"--that exist as visceral dissertations on what wine does...move us. Theise's new book speaks of wine having the capability of being a portal to the mystic, and his conviction to this end is utterly seductive. There were points when I found myself reading his proselytizing out on my deck well past twilight, sometimes laughing out loud, sometimes nodding in passionate agreement, and other times lost in his candor. It's no small coincidence that Terry describes taking wine-tasting notes as often being obtrusive when you are engaged in what you've just experienced, because I felt the same about trying to take notes while reading this book--"it's like ignoring a rainbow so you can balance your checkbook."

Theise's argument for terroir is impeccable, and one that I imagine would convince even the most hardened New Worlders to bend with the breeze, if only because his argument is sound...logical...clear. He manages to straddle the murky fault line between spirit and substance--between ethos, pathos and logos--and he manages to do it while jibing you about Chateau Bluebols at the same time. I imagine Terry to be the kind of guy that makes you feel like a complete idiot for being lulled into complacency by the gears of the wine industry, and then consoles you as you lick your wounds by offering you a glass of the most delicate, mind-blowing riesling you've ever let pass your lips. For the limited amount of time we have in our lives to imbibe, it begs the question, why drink what doesn't move you? Why drink the enological equivalent of white noise? His rhetoric is both compelling and convincing.

I have but one gripe with Reading Between the Wines and that is its forced linearity for a style of writing that is otherwise so intrinsically organic. It's like taking an e.e. cummings poem, dissecting it and cramming that dissection into an eighth-grade lit class outline. At times, Terry's views were broken down into a sort of laundry list, and that sacrificed some of the book's "naturalness" in my opinion, but that's probably also partly me being a pain in the ass after one too many glasses of nowhere wine. In all honesty, when I read his description of a red Burgundy, "If truffles had orgasms, they might emit this fragrance" I'm nearly certain my schoolgirl crush kicked in, and I probably just started looking for any reason to find flaw with Theise so that the spell would be broken. "Reading Between the Wines" is easily the most passionate, poetic, and necessary book on wine I've ever read, and it ended all way too soon.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c3001c8) out of 5 stars Full of insights, but occasionally over the top 21 Aug. 2010
By Chambolle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here we have yet another in a growing library of recent books that delve into the heart and soul of wine and ask the Big Questions. Why does wine matter? Why does terroir matter? Who gives a damn about "scoring" wine? Are there universal and absolute measures of "quality," or is a simple and honest bottle of cool, crisp rose, slurped with good ham, ripe melon and a fresh baguette on a hot summer day as "great" in its own way as a bottle of 1990 La Tache, sipped reverently on a grand occasion? Is Robert Parker The Devil, or just a guy with his own quirky palate who has been misunderstood and misused by armies of newbies hungry for easy answers to the questions "what wine should I buy" and "what wine am I supposed to like"?

Terry Theise has got his chops down, no doubt about it. He sure as heck knows German and Austrian wines better than any human I know -- to the extent that his focus on these wines makes portions of this book a bit of a tough sled for a dyed in the wool Burgundy addict like me, and probably for other folks who aren't devoted accolytes of Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Scheurebe and the like. It would be easier for me to connect with the book were it more focused on the wines, the growers and the land that I do know pretty well, which ain't Germany and Austria.

As others have said here, this is a heartfelt and insightful little book, full of wisdom and witticisms about the making and enjoyment of wine -- wine as an integral part of life and culture, not as an academic exercise, or a competition among Screaming Eagle swilling hedge fund managers who buy and drink by the Parker bible. For all that, Theise is not a Parker basher, like some others. This book attempts to put both ends of the spectrum -- the terroiristes and the Wine Advocates and everyone in-between -- in a healthy perspective. There are turns of phrase and random observations that made me laugh out loud, or stop and think for a long, long time. Flashes of recognition abound.

So why not an unqualified five stars? Well, at times Theise wanders off into flights of psychobabble that are just a tad too much. At other times its just a bit too clever and too cute.

Despite these quibbles and misgivings -- and they are purely my own and may not be there for others -- I strongly recommend that anyone who cares about wine and who spends a good bit of time drinking and pondering it should buy the book and read it with a glass in hand. Short and to the point, it will get your juices flowing and make you think about the fermented grape juice to which quite a few of us devote quite a bit of our time and energy.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c2fbd20) out of 5 stars One of the Best Wine Books in the Last Decade 16 Aug. 2010
By J. Lefevere - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Joining Lawrence Osbourne's The Accidental Connoisseur and Matt Kramer's Making Sense of Wine on the thoughtful wine enthusiasts bookshelf, Theise has written a book that is so wholly singular to his point of view, yet so persuasive that he may yet convert thousands to the wonders of small, artisanal wines from around the world, joining the insider cadre that have followed his German, Austrian and grower Champagne import selections and annual catalog-cum-stream of consciousness manifesto.

To be sure, Theise isn't the first to espouse a conviction about the value of Old World wines that are authentic, terroir-based and in possession of a bent toward the transcendental, he's just the first in the last decade to write with enough clarity and generosity of spirit to potentially turn New World agnostics into Old World disciples, connecting with a new generation of wine enthusiasts for whom the lifestyle mavens and old media dogs are as relatable as a narc at a biker rally.

While reading the slim volume, losing myself in the theatre of my mind, I imagine Theise sitting across the table from me in the dining room of an old row house in a hardscrabble town, maybe Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Upstate NY, somewhere suitably unfashionable, explaining to me his philosophy on wine -- and by proxy -- life. The education is just getting started when Theise says, at the end of the introduction, just pages into the book, "Confected wines are not designed for human beings; they are designed for `consumers.' Which do you want to be?" At this point, he has removed my defenses, punched me in the gut and put his arm around me whispering reassuringly that I am not that big of a jerk, there is still time to see the light; there is hope.

What follows in Reading between the Wines is as thoughtful of a rumination on small wine and the beauty of being human, in all of our fragility, that you are ever likely to find in a wine book.

Making Sense Of Wine
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c19edc8) out of 5 stars Will permanently change your perception of wine 31 Aug. 2010
By R. H Stutch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you even remotely care about wine - read this.

Theise is an importer of wines -Austrian, German and Grower Champagnes.

His book will seriously challenge your relationship with wine.
What he promotes is timeless authenticity in wine. He is overthetop passionate and focused.
So much so that he rails against the New World and the world of engineered wines.
And he makes some very compelling arguments:
It has taken Old World 100's years to get things just right. No way New World can have done that in mere decades.
And the history of Family in the vineyard weighs heavily. Generations literally buried in the slate of the vines.
He seeks moments of clarity and rails against some universal perfection, preferring the flaws to create character.

He proudly stands behind his imports and is a prolific, talented and amusing writer.
Certainly don't always agree but certainly always entertained and most importantly educated.
His book has some fantastic tongue-in-cheek paragraphs on the 100 point system, for example.
And some priceless one-liners that may prove useful at a dinner party.

A tough to put down book for the hardcore wine lover. But may be a bit much for the merely curious.
Makes great gift with outstanding advice for anyone with more than a passing interest in vino.
A book that pays for itself.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c2ce42c) out of 5 stars Helped rekindle my passion for wine! 6 Jun. 2012
By Christopher Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Being a long time wine industry employee, I often found myself losing the passion for wine. I spent time taking notes, trying to rate and evaluate wines while studying for the CWE and CMS 3 exams. I had forgotten the joy in appreciating wine. Granted I took pleasure in recommending great bottles to clients, but at the end of the day I just didn't really appreciate the wine.

Terry Theise is a very good writer. His writing style is very engaging, and despite coming across as a 'wine geek' a few times, I felt that he kept everything to a layman's level. Never does he get too pretentious or preachy. He does tend to distrust scoring of wine, and does even admit to being friends with a few critics. He never says scoring or rating wines is wrong, he understands there is a market for it and is sad that so many people buy wine only based on scores.

If you've had the opportunity to attend a Theise portfolio tasting (they seem to be extremely popular with the wine geek crowd), then you forgive him for being very lavish with his praise for the German and Austrian wines in his portfolio. If you haven't tasted many of these wines, then you might find he gushes overly about them.

But at the core of this book is one message: wine is something more than the liquid in the glass. Theise tells us to slow down and enjoy these wines. Forget scores, tasting notes, and everything else and just savor the wine and the moment. I really felt drawn into the book when Theise wrote about some of the winemakers he had met that had passed away. The poignant remembrance by their families was very touching. I love the son raising a glass of his father's wine in memory with those who knew him.

But it's these moments that Theise tells us to remember. These times that make wine something more. When people often discuss wines they remember fondly, they often describe the place and the people they were with more accurately than the actual wine itself.

Theise makes no claim at being unbiased with the wines he loves, and I appreciate this candor. He never really bad mouths any other wines, though he does mention with some regret the trend of many new world wines towards homogenization. But again, I never found this 'preachy'. Even if you love Australian Shiraz, you can still enjoy this book. It is filled with philosophy and poignancy and is not a list of people he met and parties he went to. It's not adventures in wine land, it's a reminder to all of us to sometimes toss the rules and just enjoy wine, let it live through you, and remember the people you shared with.

Simply the best book on truly appreciating wine and life that I have read.
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