Top positive review
Good, simplified approach to wine
on 16 February 2010
After the huge success of Jamie Oliver in taking advanced cooking down to earth and explaining the joy of food in a language the rest of us understand (something great chefs have failed at for years), it was inevitable that we'd see one on wine as well. Matt Skinner has worked as a sommelier for Jamie Oliver for many years, and his writing style is very akin to his friend's, and combined with his easy-going Australian approach, this is a very non-intimidating book on wine, and a great place to start for modern wine novices. The book takes you through the different aspects of wine production, consumption, and purchase, and does it well.
The book's short comings is in Skinner's "new world" approach to wine. A large portion of the book is dedicated to the most popular grapes used in wine (and this part is remarkably exhaustive, not just the usual suspects), based on the philosophy that if you know the grapes you know what a wine will taste like, regardless of where it's from or who made it. If only it was so simple. As anyone who has sampled the same grape from different countries, different wine regions or even from neighboring vineyards, know that the same grape can produce very different wines based on soil, climate, weather and the skills of the wine maker.
These short comings aside, this is still a great wine book, and the sheer joy of wine the book exhumes makes it worth its price tag. Also, it is a good, more modern, companion to one Hugh Johnson's excellent, but a bit old fashioned, wine books.