I used to work in the wine trade, and was literally brought up (pubs and restaurants) alongside bottles of the stuff. The most dispiriting aspect of working with wine was seeing enthusiasm for it quashed. Old guard wine merchants, and traditional wine press (no pun intended) are great at servicing their core customers, but the by-product is that they can be unhelpfully intimidating for those who don’t know. The language they use is difficult to swallow – the irony!
There are few areas of knowledge where not knowing cannot be readily overcome in this day and age. Wine unfortunately is one of the few exceptions. To confess that you ‘don’t know’ can risk a judgment of social inferiority. All too often when I tell friends to ‘bring what they like to drink’, they squeeze through the front door apologetically holding a bottle of Lambrini in the folds of their coat and saying ‘I was going to buy a Viognier, but I couldn’t make sense of what it said on the internet’. In my experience, it’s not that people generally are not curious, it’s more that in searching for information, they see more confusion than clarity. This book goes a long way to alleviating these issues, and is a welcome portal to enlightenment, or perhaps even revolution. The chapters are thoughtfully presented to maximise information offered without risking overload. There are also useful anecdotes and sprinklings of humour to aid digestion. I really love the ‘in one gulp’ sections at the end of each chapter. Extremely useful in that they can be hastily read before heading to the ex wine merchant’s house for drinks! Cheers!
Finally an insider who tells you that it is all right to like what you enjoy without feeling ignorant. The basic message is trust your instinct and don't be intimidated by an industry that wants to trade on mystique which is largely the basis for the high prices charged for a lot of wine. Lockspeiser is adamant that what matters is you the drinker and has built the book around this belief. It gives good, well rounded advice on everything that you are ever likely to want to know about wine. Every chapter concludes with a very helpful and simple section summarising what has been said under the heading 'the last gulp'. You can read it from start to finish or dip into it as you wish. Either way you should be able to stand up to the wine snob next time you encounter one or tell the waiter that the wine is corked and you want it replaced because you know that up to one in 15 bottles of wine can be affected by TCA.
You can’t beat this for a gift or stocking filler, for any friend who enjoys a glass of wine (or two, or three). It’s helpful, confidence-building, full of interesting anecdotes and info, and it contributes to a very good cause. Author Jerry Lockspeiser, who has been in the wine business for over 30 years, shares his inside knowledge, offering lots of useful info to help you choose your wine. Do more expensive wines always taste better? (Not always. Taste is personal.) Are supermarket own-label wines a good standard? (Overall, yes.) Should I trust the medals on wine bottles? (Don’t rely on medals to find a wine you will like the taste of.) And should you ever have some wine left over in the bottle, there’s advice on how best to store it. The key is to keep the oxygen out and the temperature down. So, stand the bottle of wine up in the fridge, but not in the fridge door where the wine will slosh around, mixing with air, every time you open and close the door. Or better still, pour the left-over wine into a small empty mineral water bottle, filling it as close the the top as possible. Aren’t you already warming to this author offering such down-to-earth, practical advice? The book gives you self-confidence as a chooser of wine. The main message is that you are the one who decides what a good wine is to you. What is the best wine? “There is no such thing as a universally best wine, only one that we personally like most.” The author’s proceeds from the book will be donated to The Millione Fondation to build primary schools in Sierra Leone. Each Christmas I find one present that fits the bill for lots of different friends, so I just buy 10 of the same thing. This book will be that present this year.
What's great about this little book is its readability. You can dip in and out for exactly the advice you need ( though I guess most wine enthusiasts, unlike headache-prone me, won't need advice on how to keep a bottle going for days...). I've been surprised at how much knowledge I retained, and having picked up a copy at the launch have ordered several more to distribute to my family. There's some dry humour, occasional acidity about snooty sommeliers, sweet illustrations. All in all a well-rounded offer for easy consumption. And you'll be helping to build schools in Sierra Leone.Order this book now!
Great book for the initiated as well as the uninitiated. Understanding how much the wine in the bottle you are buying actually costs as opposed to tax and retailer margin makes the book worth buying just for that fact! Have given copies to budding connoisseurs who have been equally delighted.
A perfect stocking filler for Christmas. This is a great book to read and makes a perfect present. I just bought it for my nephew, along with a bottle of Montrachet - he knows what he likes but doesn't know why he likes it! With this book he will learn a lot.