Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wine Brats Book Review--Part 2 (end)

Good readers that we are, we have finished The Wine Brats' Guide to Living, with Wine. (See here and here if you missed our earlier posts on the book.)

Our overall take remains the same: Bravo to the Wine Brats for their efforts to demystify wine and make it more accessible. If the book is overlong and strays a bit off-topic, it nevertheless has some strong pieces that are well worth reading. Here's what Parts 3 and 4 of the book have to offer.

Part 3 is entitled, "Gettin' Dirty with the Winemakers," and the first piece finds Gina Gallo describing her history and how she came to be a winemaker (it was more than family ties). It's a sweet and well-written entry.

Next up is Stewart Dorman's "diary" (in quotes because we are pretty sure it's not really taken from his diary) chronicling the genesis of his successful wine brand, Adrian Fog. We found the piece a bit contrived, and it contains too many winemaking canards, such as that rain dilutes wine flavors and "ripeness." Dorman may well have so believed at that stage of his career, but we hope he does not now. Nevertheless, it's a pretty interesting account of starting up a winery and all the work that is involved.

Joe Naujokas follows with a description of a huge home winemaking co-operative in Modesto, the Woof Woof Winery, which appears to still exist (they have a Yahoo group although there is little activity since 2006). The group sounds like it would be a lot of fun to belong to, and Naujokas makes the whole process of en masse home winemaking sound interesting enough that it might inspire readers to follow suit.

The last part of the book is called "The Eternal Search for Knowledge," and is in essence a reference section. We are afraid this is the weakest portion of the book. Its information was outdated soon after publication. There is a guide to wine-friendly restaurants and wine bars, for instance, few of which were likely to exist more than a year or two past publication. The section on using the Internet to find wine is now of interest only to Internet historians. Of course, these are tough criticisms to level at a book that was published ten years ago and meant for immediate consumption.

While the guide to wine books and periodicals is still mostly relevant and of some use, the list of winegrape varieties contains surprising errors. Viognier, for instance, is often blended into red Rhône wines from Côte-Rôtie, not Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Although some 13 varieties are allowed into red Châtueaneuf wines, Viognier is not among them.

All in all this was a fun read. We wish the Wine Brats were still around to update the book, and to make more mischief while spreading the gospel of wine.

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