book reviews

Book on wine and related topics, as reviewed by the Wine Rambler.

The Riesling Retribution by Ellen Crosby. A cozy wine mystery book review

Some reviews seem to write themselves, in extreme cases even before you have had a detailed look at the product. I mean honestly, what could you possibly expect from a "wine country mystery" novel entitled The Riesling Retribution that blends the discovery of a body near a vineyard, a love triangle in a winery and old family secrets into a "combustible atmosphere" that also features "eerie ghost stories", "buried secrets" and "a most unexpected outcome"? Is it really a recommendation when the cover cites an inspired reviewer with the verdict "A crisp read that goes down smoothly with a pleasant finish"? Would you trust an author to produce great literature who titles her novels The Bordeaux Betrayal or The Viognier Vendetta?

Let's see if the reality of Ellen Crosby's The Riesling Retribution is quite as predictable as that.

Wine Myths and Reality, by Benjamin Lewin. A Wine Rambler book review

Do we really need another book on "wine myths"? After all, the internet is full of websites debunking the top ten (or other) wine myths, and I have lost count of the number of tiny paperbacks that promise to make you a wine expert or at least save you from the most common misconceptions or myths. Looking at its title you may mistake Benjamin Lewin's latest venture for yet another manifestation of such, in every sense of the word, light reading.

However, just a quick glance into Wine Myths and Reality will tell you it is a rather different animal. Not only is it a, in every sense of the word, substantial book, but also one that actually makes an argument.

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer - A Wine Rambler book review

Admirers of the New York-based writer Jonathan Safran Foer, and their number is large, know what to expect from the author of the acclaimed novels "Everything is illuminated" and "Extremely loud & Incredibly close": Foer-fiction. Tales of human suffering and grief told in a manner that is feathery light, endlessly inventive, hilarious and poignant at the same time. Now consider these sentences from his latest book:

After the bird's heads are pulled off and their feet removed, machines open them with a vertical incision and remove their guts. Contamination often occurs here, as the high-speed machines commonly rip off intestines, releasing feces into the birds' body cavities.

Safran Foer's readers have always been willing to be surprised, but few will have been ready for an all-out manifesto about the systematic cruelty of industrial meat production and the moral quality of vegetarianism. But he has written one.

The book is neither brand new (published 2009) nor about wine, so this is not a straightforward Wine Rambler book review. But if, after all the fun and games of writing guilelessly about wine and food, there is also a place for more serious reflection in wine blogging, this, I think, is a good place to start.

Julian Friday, 18/03/2011

Where eagles dare: VdP register of members

The eagle - particularly on emblems shaped into straight lines and angular form - has to be the quintessential German bird. If you have ever bought a premier German wine abroad there is a good chance you will have seen an eagle on the label and/or capsule. The eagle is the logo of VDP, the world's oldest association of wine estates. It was founded in Germany in 1910 as an association of wine estates selling "natural" (i.e. non-chaptalised) wine via auctions. A major player in the (German) wine world, VDP counts many of Germany's most respected wineries amongst its members.

VDP - The Members

Mark Oldman's Brave New World of Wine. A Wine Rambler Book Review

When did you last drink Moschofilero, Txakoli, Aglianico or sparkling Shiraz? 'Wine personality' Mark Oldman thinks many customers are stuck in the routine of drinking the same boring Cabernet and Chardonnay. To help them out, Oldman's Brave New World of Wine introduces 46 types of wine beyond the usual suspects, each 'brave new pour' described with anecdotes, recommended producers, food pairing suggestions and all sorts of 'winespeak without the geek'.

Providing wine drinkers with easily accessible knowledge is an applaudable mission, and as I had never read a popular book by a 'wine personality' I happily accepted when the publisher offered a copy for review. Now I am trying to answer the question: can a book about wine be too funny?