Pocket Full Of Passion (October 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

It’s time once again for Ye Olde Wine Product Review Roundup, in which I turn my critical Sauron-like eye towards wine-related samples that are (usually) inedible. We’re back to hitting the books this month, because, well, I have a sh*t ton of wine book samples piling up at 1WD HQ. Like, seriously, I am tripping over some of them at this point…

First up is the 2019 edition of the perennially (literally) fantastic Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (Mitchell Beazley, 336 pages, $17). If it seems like I talk about this little marvel of a wine reference every single year, it’s because I do. Once again, Johnson’s cast of contributing characters packs an almost unbelievable amount of useful information on most of the wine world’s important releases/producers/vintages/regions into an equally nearly unbelievably small space. Yeah, it really needs to be an annually updated or subscription-style mobile app at this point, but still, there’s good reason this book sits atop the best seller lists for wine guides for those of us who still occasionally pick up these things made from dead trees. The rotating essay topic this year’s Pocket Wine is Natural/Organic/Biodynamic wines, and it’s well-written and interesting, bringing a refreshingly non-partisan analysis of those categories and making a good case that, when it comes to fine wine production, being sustainable is actually quite mainstream.

 

Pocket Full Of Passion (October 2018 Wine Product Roundup)Next, and finally for this roundup, we have Passion For Wine: The French Ideal and the American Dream (Favorite Recipes Press, 192 pages, $29), a colorful work co-written by my friend and fellow Philly-wine-person Marnie Old and the indefatigably flamboyant Jean-Charles Boisset, proprietor of the Boisset Collection of wine brands and husband of the equally indefatigable Gina Gallo, one of the most prominent figures in the global wine market today. The pages of Passion For Wine are all edged in a shiny gold foil, which will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has ever met Jean-Charles. The book is, in essence, an exploration of wine styles (“powerful reds” are compared to Elizabeth Taylor, and “voluptuous whites” to Marilyn Monroe), grapes, and Jean-Charles’ own brands. If Passion For Wine seems, at times, a little confusing in its layout and leaning a bit too heavily into self-promotion, we can forgive these minor sins when taking into account that it reflects nearly perfectly the zest-for-the-good-life style of Jean-Charles himself, and is tempered by Marnie’s accessible prose and her vast experience of how to relate complex concepts about wine in ways that the average wine lover can easily digest. It’s both visually stunning and useful, ultimately rising above its eccentricities and delivering the goods (an outcome that’s both a reflection of and a testament to the talents of its authors).

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Pocket Full Of Passion (October 2018 Wine Product Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

image: Amazon.com

Welcome to the June 2018 incarnation of the ongoing series in which I review samples that aren’t in liquid form. I am so, so, sooooooooooooooooooooo far behind in penning thoughts on various tastings and wine travels, but I’m also so, so, sooooooooooooooooooooo far behind in reviewing the never-ending flood of wine book samples coming my way that I felt compelled to knock off at least a small handful for this product roundup.

First up, we have the small-but-powerful 101 Wines to Try Before You Die (Cassell, 244 pages, about $12) by former Wine Magazine editor Margaret Rand. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of list-style books, but Rand’s clever ploy here – in which she devotes two pages each to the wines on her list, including a bottle/label shot – is not to introduce you to individual wines per se, but to get people thinking more about things like Savennières, Hunter Valley Semillon, or Bierzo.

101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

image: Amazon.com

Rand gets bonus points for employing a writing style that’s equal parts matter-of-fact, personal, and humorous (included with each selection’s vitals, such as trophy vintages and whether or not to chill or decant the wine, is a “What Not to Say” section; my personal favorite is probably “Is it German?” under Hugel’s Riesling Schoelhammer entry). 101 Wines to Try Before You Die is an honest and fun, if not essential, walk through some of compelling bottles.

Next, there’s   (Mascot, 144 pages, about $25) by Michael Biddick. Biddick is a sommelier with an IT background, and his upcoming book is essentially full of vignettes about some of the world’s most important wine regions, accompanied by a sort of info-graphic that displays the area’s major grapes, soils, climate, and recent vintages.

Now, at this point, you’re probably asking yourself “why the f–k did he pick 43 regions?!?” and the answer has to do with Biddick’s IT geekdom, and is the kind of thing that’s just begging for controversy…

Being an IT guy at heart, the author basically created a matrix/spreadsheet for each potential wine region in the mix for inclusion, scoring for categories such as composite vintage score 2000-2016″ and “weather and climate.” A total point score was then calculated for each wine region, with 50 points being the cutoff for making the book. I can feel you points-haters cringing at this (hey, I’m one of you, and I did, too). For sh*ts and giggles, here are Biddick’s top 20 and bottom 10, based on his algorithm:

101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

Biddick’s Top 20…

101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

…and his Bottom 10

Whether or not 43 Wine Regions will be your particular cup o’ tea when it comes to wine reference books will depend in large part on how you feel about this kind of full embracing of the American penchant for list-making, categorizing, and ranking.

101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

image: Amazon.com

Finally, we have a cute reference focusing on one and only one category of wine – Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé (Harper Design, 128 pages, about $12) by Victoria James (author) and Lyle Railsback (illustrator). James is a somm and beverage director, and, presumably, a big fan of pink wines. The pink-all-over cover and the clever/whimsical illustrations throughout will almost certainly have the more cynical among you (myself included) thinking that James and Railsback are capitalizing on the current boom in Rosé popularity; and while I don’t think that’s an incorrect conclusion, it doesn’t mean that Drink Pink should be overlooked. On the contrary, there’s a lot to like about this book: it’s unpretentious, gets into cool levels of detail (for example, in discussing the Cassis, Palette, and Bandol sub-regions within Provence), and offers Rosé-focused food pairings/recipes, and even Rosé cocktail ideas that don’t actually sound disgusting. A bit of Rosé history and production overviews round the book out, and it’s a solid gift idea for those who are not necessarily wine geeks but are enthralled with pinks.

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at 101 Wines, 43 Wine Regions, And 1 Rosy Picture (June 2018 Wine Product Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

In Search Of… The Not-So-perfect (April 2018 Wine Products Roundup)

It’s time here on 1WD for entry in the ongoing wine product sample roundup articles series, in which I try out samples sent to me that are not directly vinous / edible in nature. Once again, I’ve tried to whittle down the pile of wine-related tomes cluttering my office floor, but I also managed to have a sort of battle with (yet another) wine opener-type-thingy…

image: amazon.com

First, there’s the book: The Search for Good Wine: From the Founding Fathers to the Modern Table, by John Hailman (University Press of Mississippi, 301 pages, about $29). Hailman has been a wine competition judge, has authored a couple of other books, and had a nationally syndicated wine column; The Search for Good Wine pulls from the latter, which is the both the book’s strongest asset and (for me) its greatest source of consternation. This is a compendium of Hailman’s well-written, often witty, more often informative, and always accessible column essays, organized into four main categories (people, places, tips, and humor). They are good reads. The trouble is that (too) many of the essays employ relative references (mostly regarding time), yet lack details about when they were written and published. Not a big deal, until you hit the twentieth or so relative mention, at which point the editor in me (and maybe in you) will want to scream. Anyway, it’s solid work if you can get past that possibly-not-so-minor cavil.

Finally, we have my run-in with Vineyard Elite’s “The Perfect Wine Opener” (https://theperfectwineopener.com, $69.95). With such a haughty moniker, and a price to match, you’d think that this thing would work exceptionally well. And you’d be very, very wrong (based on my usage trials, anyway)…

In Search Of… The Not-So-perfect (April 2018 Wine Products Roundup)

image: theperfectwineopener.com

The package comes with “The Perfect Cut” foil cutter (which I found average), three “Perfect Seal” wine bottle pump-stoppers (which work decently well, though they’re not really sized for bottles with smaller necks), and the decently-constructed opener itself, which employs an interesting design.

To use the Perfect Wine Opener, you pierce the cork with the unit’s encased needle, and pump air into the bottle, which forces the cork out with a POP!

Or, at least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

I only managed to get it working about 50% of the time, and even then I was a bit fearful that I could end up breaking the bottle due to the added pressure (this is absolutely the type of product that should not be used on sparkling wine). Ultimately, this one just doesn’t up live to the price, let alone the name; and while you might have a better success rate using it than I did, I’d advise you to check out one of the similar, cheaper alternatives first (some of which can be found for about $16).

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at In Search Of… The Not-So-perfect (April 2018 Wine Products Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Through The Past, Scholarly (March 2018 Wine Product Reviews)

For the most recent batch of wine product sample roundup articles, I’ve been focusing on reducing the pile of wine book sample copies currently littering the floor of my home office. And so for March, I am slowly whittling away at said pile by offering up two more hardcover tomes for your vinous reading consideration. You still read books, right?

image: amazon.com

Firstly, we have French Wine: A History by Rod Phillips (University of California Press, 319 pages, about $30). That’s an unassuming title for a book with such an ambitious scope. Actually, its scope is bordering on insanity. Beginning from roughly 2500 years ago, Ottawa-based historian Phillips carves up the topical elephant into almost-digestible-sized time period chunks: the period before 1000 CE, the Middle Ages, through to the Enlightenment, the onset of the World Wars, etc. I say “almost” digestible because even each of those chapters is sizeable in terms of the rich historical content and context of the topic (remember, wine involves chemistry, historical events, economics, farming….).

The ground zero / linchpin moment of French Wine if there is one, after which all is forever changed, seems to be the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s. Like the rootstocks of its precious vines, nothing in the French wine world was ever quite the same after the country’s vineyards were decimated by that little louse.

All of this is told in dense, matter-of-fact prose, but Phillips isn’t afraid to call out others’ opinions (even somewhat challenging the venerable Hugh Johnson at one point). It’s not a fast or particularly easy read, but ultimately a worthwhile one. And its conclusion is appropriately bittersweet: France is growing fewer grape vines, producing fewer bottles, and drinking less wine than in its historical apexes, and yet the standard-bearer wines (in terms of quality and prices) are still at the top of the global game; and while we may be seeing a dip overall, the country’s vinous development has been anything but uniform, as French Wine dutifully shows us…

Through The Past, Scholarly (March 2018 Wine Product Reviews)

image: amazon.com

Secondly, there’s Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine by Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino (also University of California Press, who presumably enjoy sending me sample books; 360 pages, about $39).

I have a few reservations about this book, though I suspect in time I will soften on those, considering that partners Nesto and Di Savino have crafted the most complete Chianti overview that has probably ever existed. Chianti Classico is part Chianti history class, part overview of the modern region/geography/winemaking, part review of some of its key and autherntically-minded producers, and part love letter to central Tuscany. This is a narrative that is ultimately scholarly, and quite informative.

But… it’s also a narrative that lacks a sense of cohesion. The style of prose is almost quaint, as if it came from an older time, in a charming way. That will endear Chianti Classico to some readers, and probably turn off others. And the price isn’t exactly on the cheap side. Having said all of that, it’s also a book that doesn’t have to be consumed linearly; and given its depth (history, geography, kick-ass ancient maps, etc.), it’s likely also one that can be consulted many, many times in the future.

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Through The Past, Scholarly (March 2018 Wine Product Reviews) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine And Place And Threats (February 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

For February’s wine product sample roundup (in which I cast a critical eye on wine-related stuff that isn’t actually wine), we once again hit the book shelves, with some mixed but ultimately geekily fascinating results…

First up is a long-overdue mention of Maximillian Potter’s account of the train-wreck-style-too-crazy-to-look-away story behind the 2010 threat to poison the vines of Burgundy’s La Romanée-Conti, which produce some of the most sought-after and expensive Pinot Noir wines on the planet (interestingly, the vintage under threat was the same one that I reviewed and – SPOILER ALERT! – everything turned out okay). The book is titled Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine (Twelve Books, 289 pages, about $10), and if that subtitle sounds a bit fawning, it’s also an accurate indication of the book’s only real flaw.

Potter’s an accomplished and experienced former staff writer, and he knows both how to spin a yarn and how to meticulously research his topic, both of which come together masterfully in Shadows in the Vineyard. Be forewarned, however, that Potter also falls into the same trap that has snared countless others who’ve mentioned this fabled Burgundian top-tier producer, which is to mention so often that its wines must be the world’s best that your facial muscles might get a bit tired from all of the ensuing eye-rolling. I mean, we get it already. But in terms of entertaining wine-related reads, this is a top-notch tale…

Wine And Place And Threats (February 2018 Wine Product Roundup)Next, we have the potentially controversial Wine and Place: A Terroir Reader, by Tim Patterson &‎ John Buechsenstein, with a foreword by a long-time friend-of-1WD, the eloquent Patrick J. Comiskey (UC Davis Press, 329 pages, about $39). Wine and Place is meant to be an examination of the concept of terroir from several angles (scientific, folk, you-name-it) and using material from, well, all over the place (wine writers, critics, growers, winemakers, chemists…). You are unlikely to find a more current of thorough compendium of writing about terroir – both in support of and challenging its veracity – without the authors (or, more accurately in this case, editors) adding their own opinions on the matter.

It’s that last bit that is either the key to success or the fatal flaw of Wine and Place, depending on your preferred style of prose when it comes to controversial topics. At times, Patterson and Buechsenstein get seriously academic, which makes portions of this book a bit of a slog, but they seem so intelligent and involved that the reader (or this reader, anyway) can be left feeling a bit empty that they don’t take stronger stances on whether or not they view terroir as essential to the concept of fine wine, or as bunk. At this price, I’d wait for the paperback.

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Wine And Place And Threats (February 2018 Wine Product Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

I’ll Be Here, Hiding Under The Blanket (January 2018 Wine Product Review Roundup)

It’s time for the first monthly wine product sample review round-up of the new year, which means you now have a couple of recommendations for vinous-related things to buy after you’ve returned the crappier gifts that you received during the holidays! You’re welcome!

Since it’s been as cold as Dante’s icy ninth circle of hell around here lately, I decided to focus on reading material, all the better to curl up in front of a fireplace with (drink in hand, naturally) and enjoy while hiding from the real world under a cozy blanket.

First up is Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties & Styles, (Sterling Epicure, 288 pages, $27.95) by three people that I happen to know personally (consider yourself full-disclosure-warned): the affable World Wine Guys Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, and the legendary Kevin Zraly (who might actually still owe me some money). This well-designed book has been getting serious positive press lately, and I’m happy to report that it’s well-deserving of all of it. The subtitle is apt, as Red Wine focuses on being comprehensive rather than exhaustively deep. Having said that, for 98% of wine lovers, they will not need (nor are they likely to find) a better guide to world’s fine red wine grapes than this one. Each grape gets at least a two-page spread that includes wine color, a tasting profile scale that focuses on the wine’s acidity/body/tannin combo, tasting notes and food pairings with at-a-glance icon references, a photo, a brief write-up, and a list of recommended wines to try (from bargain through to splurge price-levels). More ubiquitous grapes get a longer treatment, focusing on stylistic variances between countries, as well as winemaker quotes, and a handful of obscure red varieties (Teran, anyone?) get short highlights. Mad props to Christine Heun, who is credited as the designer, for putting together one of the easiest to navigate references I’ve ever seen in the wine world.

I’ll Be Here, Hiding Under The Blanket (January 2018 Wine Product Review Roundup)Closing out this month’s roundup, we have the gorgeously-photographed (think major food-porn style) Drink Progressively: From White to Red, Light- to Full-Bodied, A Bold New Way to Pair Wine with Food (Spring House Press, 240 pages, $27), by Hadley & TJ Douglas, the husband-and-wife owners of Boston’s The Urban Grape. This is a food-and-pairing-focused wine guide, and includes recipes by Straight Wharf’s Gabriel Frasca. The main idea behind Drink Progressively is to focus on wine body above all else, and then suggest wines and recipes to match that body accordingly. The Douglases do this by moving wines through an increasing body scale of 1 to 10, which leaves us with shorthand terms like “5W” (to describe whites from Burgundy and Mosel, for example) and “9R” (e.g., for bolder reds from Dry Creek Valley, Mendoza, and Barossa). It’s a clever, seemingly-simple conceit that I found gets confusing very quickly. Having said that, this book might be worth the cover price for the recipes and wine recommendations alone, though the latter tend towards the geekier (and therefore probably more difficult to find) end of the spectrum. The unsung hero here is Beatrice Peltre, whose photographs are downright stunning.

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at I’ll Be Here, Hiding Under The Blanket (January 2018 Wine Product Review Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Hanging Heavy (September 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

With some crazy travel happening in the short term, I’m making the executive decision to go ahead and give you the September 2017 edition of the monthly wine product review roundup a bit on the early side (rather than scrambling to get my act together on it at the end of the month, which is my usual MO).

I have some reservations about both of the non-edible products from this month’s sample pool, so let’s begin with the item sporting the fewest of saidreservations:

The Winemakers of Paso Robles by Julia Perez & Paul Hodgins (328 pages, $119)

This impressive tome, almost equal parts gorgeous photographs and Paso Robles winemaker profile pieces, began as a Kickstarter project and has seen a recent surge in media and press (within the US fine wine sphere, anyway). And when I write “impressive,” I do mean impressive. As in, Darth-Vader-in-The-Empire-Strikes-Back levels of impressive.

Hanging Heavy (September 2017 Wine Product Roundup)Perez’s stunning photos are the focus of this coffee-table book, with Hodgins’s prose providing the support. The profiles, while not exactly fluff pieces, tend towards the lifestyle-magazine tone of prose; not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not without leaving you with a good sense of what drives the winemakers of Paso to do what they do so well. But if it’s controversy that you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

The reservation comes from the book’s size and price (and weight); all are pretty hefty. It’s not as though you’re getting ripped off – far from it – but this is a coffee table book that’s damn nearly the weight of a coffee table. In paging through it, I kept thinking that a) I can’t read this in bed, because it will crush my sternum, and b) it might behoove these guys to put out a smaller, less expensive (and lighter?) soft-back edition…

Hanging Heavy (September 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

The Expovinalia bottle holder, in its final resting place at Chateau Dude

The reservations count goes decidedly up with respect to the next product, the Wall Hanging Bottle Holder by Expovinalia. My sample came directly from Spain, but lacked the screws for securing this to the wall (though they might have fallen out during shipping… the packaging was definitely showing the wear of the journey by the time it arrived on the porch).

My sample is made from pine, has a 12-bottle capacity, and only two screw holes; you are definitely going to want to secure this sturdy item to a stud, particularly if you plan on putting full bottles on display with it; the combined weight will need the support. Generally, the material and the construction of this bottle holder are solid. I noticed some inconsistencies in the finish (pooling, for example), but they weren’t prominent enough to detract from its aesthetics, especially when viewed from any reasonable distance (and if you’re getting that close to my bottles, then we might have words anyway). Bottles placed in the holes (neck-first, see inset pic) seem to stay put, but those holes only fit narrow/standard sized bottle necks; anything with a large lip at the tip simply won’t fit at all. Which rules out a lot of the trophy bottles that geeks would want to display, such as many Champagnes, and those hey-look-at-me big-ass heavy bottles usually reserved for pricey Cabernets.

The above cavils would be minor when considered individually, but taken with the fact that this holder only seems to be available via Expovinalia’s website, on which I could not locate a price (the shipping label has a value of 30), a translation option, or even a button for adding the holder to my shopping cart… well, one could reasonable wonder if all of the cavils together aren’t enough to drive oneself to declare “f*ck it” and shop for something else, somewhere else.

Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Hanging Heavy (September 2017 Wine Product Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Two Books About Rosé Wine

Back in the stone age when I began drinking dry rosé, if you told me there was a book about pink wine I would have questioned your sanity. So I’m a bit gobsmacked that this year I can recommend not one but two books about rosé.

You can hear me opine about them during my segment on Snacky Tunes:

Also check out the rest of the show, where hosts (and brothers) Darin and Greg Bresnitz travel down to Mexico City to speak with chef Gabriela Cámara about her restaurants Contramar (Mexico City) and Cala (San Francisco) and much more. (Including her celebrated tuna tostada.) And take a stroll down the musical archives with a performance by Midnight Magic, a “Brooklyn dance music ensemble.”

Two Recommended Rosé Books

Drink Pink, A Celebration of Rosé by Victoria James

Two Books About Rosé WineJames is beverage director at Piora and Cote restaurants in New York City. (Listen to my interview with James for the Wine Enthusiast podcast.) She’s written a slender, charming book that delves into the history of rosé, how it’s made, top regions, notable producers, plus food and cocktail recipes. And, like fine white or red wine, James advises to avoid the plonk and seek out serious, well- and responsibly-made bottles. And drink them year-round. Which is certainly warranted. (Duh.)

What I really like about Drink Pink is its breezy style in the midst of expert substance. It’s not a weighty tome that overwhelms or intimidates. Really, it’s the kind of book you’d want to take with you on a picnic while you drink rosé. I also have to comment on the delightful, whimsical, creative illustrations by Lyle Railsback.

One of my favorite things about working at Wine Enthusiast is how the art department shorthands them as “illos.” I feel so magazine-insidery when I say “illos.” Really, I’d love for the magazine to do an all-illo issue. Anyway, illustrations are much prefered to corny stock photos. And they convey a sense of welcoming and set a tone wholly appropriate for rosé.

Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine by Katherine Cole

Two Books About Rosé WineI really enjoyed Complete Wine Selector by Cole and this book reminds me of that one in that it’s comprehensive yet not stuffy. Her personality really comes through when she talks about the wines she loves (and doesn’t love). Cole has a way of discussing rosé and introducing pop culture references (and beyond) in a most compelling manner. It’s not easy to read through lists of wines with descriptions without getting…fatigued. Cole does it with aplomb and that’s quite a feat.

It’s a much longer book than Drink Pink, with a lot more specific bottle recommendations, and photos of said bottles at the end of each chapter (which does make it easier to find a specific one next time you’re at your local wine shop.) You’ll also find deeper profiles of notable producers and wines, like a page or two each.

(There are fantastic illos, too.)

Rosé All Day functions well as a reference tool to bolster your knowledge about wine and give you specific guidance on how to diversity your pink wine portfolio.

Now between my podcast jibber-jabbering and these two books you are totally set for life, or at least for another year, when it comes to rosé knowledge.

Hey, read this far? Here’s a song from Midnight Magic to get you movin’.

Top image via La Bastide Blanche, one of my all-time favorite rosés. It comes in magnums, too!

The post Two Books About Rosé Wine appeared first on Jameson Fink.

The Dirty Guide, Vermont Book Events!

  

There are quite a few coming next week to lovely Vermont 

  

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Don't yet have the book? There's a remedy for that

Sunday, August 20th with La Pascaline Lepeltier at La Garagista with Deidre and Caleb. (I believe this is sold out, but you can get on the wait list.)

Tuesday, August 21st at Sparkling Vermont   in Middlebury, come to the next edition of the Dead or Alive tasting. Can you spot the commercial but highly touted champagne among the lineup of lovelies? Call for the details, 802 989 7020. 

Wednesday, August 22 at  Cork Wine Bar in Waterbury. Call for details. 802) 882-8227

 

Rack ‘Em, Stack ‘Em, Defraud ‘Em (July 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

In this too-steamy month’s round up of non-drinkable wine product samples, I’ve got two items to highlight that I can recommend without nary a reservation; and for me, when it comes to putting wine products to the test, that’s the wine scribe’s equivalent of a tall, cold glass of Soave on a hot Summer’s day.

First up is one of the Wall Mounted Wine Racks by Ultra Wine Racks (about $75); they sent me the 3ft x 1 (wine bottle) deep version, but there are several configurations from which you can choose (though the options that are multiple bottles “deep” are probably best employed in retail, restaurant, or wine cellar/storage spaces).

The bottom line is that these mostly-metal wall-mounted puppies are well-made, sturdy, and look great once installed (note that the larger you go on these racks, the more important it will be to find a stud on which to mount them… holy crap, that whole sentence fragment sounds mildly, obnoxiously sexual, doesn’t it?). Installation is relatively straightforward, but will definitely require a level, and will go much faster if you have a second person (ask me how I know) to help stabilize the racks when positioning them for the mounts, etc.

What I liked most about the Ultra Wine Rack kit was that, with the exceptions of a drill and a screwdriver, it comes with everything that you need to install and maintain it, including anchors, spare parts, and even a screwdriver drill bit, just in case. If you’re in the market for combining wine storage with some crowing/showing-off of special bottles as a side benefit, then you should take a serious look at these…

Second, and finally, even though I’ve yet to finish it, I can highly recommend veteran author Peter Hellman’s latest, In Vino Duplicitas: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire (about $26), a detailed account of the Rudy Kurniawan wine fraud scandal.

Rack ‘Em, Stack ‘Em, Defraud ‘Em (July 2017 Wine Product Roundup)Kurniawan’s tale is a fascinating one in the otherwise a-bit-too-stuffily-boring world of fine wine; not only because Kurniawan’s fraud shook the fine wine and auction biz to their very cores, but also because the bildungsroman of Kurniawan himself is like a glimpse into both the personal sociopathy of a criminal, and the societal sociopathy that often allows such criminals to initially flourish.

Aside from a sort of forced, affected props call out to Wine Spectator in the forward, In Vino Duplicitas is written with an easy but well-crafted prose, that occasionally seems to get a bit tangential but ultimately does a masterful job in explaining relatively arcane wine concepts and history in non-insider terms.

Hellman succeeds here in getting across not just the facts about the strangest fraud case in the modern history of fine wine, but also in getting inside the dysfunctional heads of most of the major players involved, and in helping the reader get beyond the “what” and “how” and making him/her feel the “why” behind the ripple-effect impacts that Kurniawan left in his wake.

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Rack ‘Em, Stack ‘Em, Defraud ‘Em (July 2017 Wine Product Roundup) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!