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Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a…

Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier

by Andrea Immer Robinson

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Very readable and more useful than the 2011, 2010, etc. single year wine guides. Managed to get an autographed copy and the first annual Uncork the Uplands as well as my kindle edition. ( )
  Spurts | Oct 29, 2015 |
This introduction to the complexities of drinking wine demands, as its title suggests, no prior knowledge. I came to it with some experience and ad hoc appreciation of the subject, but found plenty to learn.

It is a model of technical writing: clear, well-organized, punctuated with funny anecdotes and chatty confidences. The book's approach is "immersion": learning through drinking; and it is structured around a handful of basic concepts, punctuated with a programmed series of comparative tastings. While I haven't carried out anything close to the full program of tastings, I've used them for reference in designing little experiments to further my own palate--and those of my friends!

I suppose there are a fair assortment of books available to educate oneself regarding wine. Immer's does a fine job, not only communicating what one might want to know, or even how it is the case, but why people come to learn all of this detail: she has an enthusiasm about the subject that leaps off the page. Her background as a sommelier-cum-buyer sets her apart from the general run of her writing peers in this field, and her contempt for the wine criticism genre is sometimes quite evident. She's happy to say what she likes, but espouses the uncommon notion that different people will (and should!) have different tastes.

When it was published in 2000, this edition included timely notes on production and market trends. A 2005 second edition included some updating, but is now as outdated as the original was when revision was thought to be needed. (The global economic crunch of the last couple of years has had, I gather, unpleasant effects on wine importation.) Still, the core concepts of the book are resilient, and the presentation is entertaining.
1 vote paradoxosalpha | Mar 28, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 076790477X, Hardcover)

About one-third of the way through Andrea Immer's Great Wine Made Simple, the author recounts an anecdote that could serve as the book's theme--alligator, rabbit, and squab were all introduced to her the same way: "Tastes like chicken." And as demonstrated by Immer, who went from debentures to de Rothschild when she quit Morgan Stanley to eventually oversee the 50,000-bottle cellar at Manhattan's famed Windows on the World, the leap from pigeon to Pichon-Lalande is analogous: teaching novice wine drinkers what to expect is what her book, aptly subtitled "Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier", is all about.

With emphasis on her "Big Six" varietals--Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon--this "Immer-sion" class of tastings lets amateur sippers differentiate the typical qualities of each, while illustrating wine terms such as dry, crisp, oaky, and tannic. Practical advice abounds; one chapter devotes itself to finding useful info on a wine label while avoiding "Stupid Label Tricks," those bits of puffery or unfamiliar flavors (how many have actually tasted lychee or red currant?) that can be confusing the average buyer. And her "Flavor Map" concept--dividing the wine world into three climate zones--eschews memorization in favor of some rudimentary geography.

Throughout, her pronunciation guides are accurate and personable ("If you're pronouncing 'Riesling' right you have to smile."); and she provides a great postgraduate curriculum of buying strategies, including the pros and cons of wine shops versus your nearest Costco; and a consumer advisory about restaurant's "award-winning wine lists." --Tony Mason

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:12 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Andrea Immer Robinson genuinely knows more about wine than most wine lovers could ever hope to learn. But she doesn't believe that you have to join a stuffy, exclusive wine-tasting set, or study a lot, to become a savvy wine buyer. Unlike other wine guides, this book makes it easy to master the ins and outs of choosing a wine that you and your guests will love--on any budget. You will never again have to fear pricey bottles that don't deliver, snobby wine waiters, foreign terminology, or encyclopedic restaurant wine lists. You'll be able to buy or order wine with confidence--and get just the wine you want--by learning how the "Big Six" basic styles (which comprise 80 percent of today's top selling wines) taste and how to read any wine label.--From publisher description.… (more)

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