Having been continually confused by wine lists in restaurants, I was looking for a simple yet thorough introduction to wine and I have to say this book is fantastic! Starting with the very basics of wine, it tells you everything you need to know. It provides an excellent overview of different grape varieties, the major types of wine and how to match food with wine.
Particularly useful is the guide to major wine producing regions. This book gets the right balance of general introduction to wine, with hooks into a more detailed appreciation of wine. The book is logically structured and unlike many of the books out there, is squarely aimed at someone looking to learn the basics of wine appreciation.
My only criticism is that a lot of the wines recommended come from such small vineyards, they are almost impossible to get - even through the specialist suppliers.
However this is an excellent book for someone who is interested in wine, its production and the key wine producing regions.
We all know Oz Clarke from his days on 'Food and Drink' on BBC2, so we know pretty much what to expect - an accessible and informative look at wine from someone with a genuinely huge amount of knowledge. And that's exactly what you get with this book. It's a bit more detailed than you might expect for a book describing itself as a mere introduction to the subject, but it's always written in simple language, and even those with little or no knowledge of wine will not be confused. Oz Clarke writes with a clear enthusiasm that makes this book a lively and honest read. He says exactly what he thinks, and says it in a way that is completely without snobbery or pretense. More than just an introduction to wine, this book is probably all the wine guide that most of us will ever need. It simply gives you enough information to make some good choices and start experimenting, and that's got to be the best way to learn about wine. There is a "flavour wheel" for both red and white wines, with descriptions of different types of flavour around the outside, and varying fullness of flavour from the centre out. It works very well, showing you exactly where in the flavour spectrum different wines can be found, and will give you a good guide to which wines you might like to try. There are also sections on how to get the best from a restaurant wine list, how to tell if a wine is tainted, and how to open and serve a wine correctly, including the correct glass and the correct temperature. There are guides to different countries and regions, and a guide to grape varieties. Essentially, this book has all the information you need to learn more about wine. It's easy to find the information you want, and a few minutes reading it are sure to leave you reaching for a corkscrew.