Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Book Review: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere, The Complete Guide

Malbec is from Argentina, Carmenere is from Chile, and Shiraz is from Australia. Oh, New Zealand makes good Sauvignon Blanc, and South Africa produces a brooding wine you can’t find anywhere else called Pinotage. What more do you need to know about wines from the Southern Hemisphere?

Turns out, there’s plenty more to discover from the vineyards below the equator, and this tome by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen (a.k.a., “The World Wine Guys“) provide the ultimate guide for your wine journey across the bottom half of the Earth. [Read more…]

Vines Grapes and Wines

Vines, Grapes & Wines: The Wine Drinker\'s Guide to Grape Varieties
Vines, Grapes and Wines – the wine drinker’s guide to grape varieties

This book was first written in 1986, and hasn’t been updated since 1992, so it’s a little outdated — and that’s a shame.

However, it is still an excellent reference for those interested in learning more about different types of grapes, and at less than twenty bucks is a bargain compared to the newer and shinier books available.

Do not buy this book if you want to see beautiful photography — there isn’t any. All the images are hand-drawn illustrations, mostly of wine maps and grape bunches (including leaves). DO buy this book if you are an intellectual, and looking for a “textbook” on grapes. Author Jancis Robinson — a Master of Wine and one of the most respected wine educators in the world — does a great job of presenting hard facts intertwined with bits of opinion in this remarkably researched book. No grape goes unturned, as Robinson describes nearly every vine variety on the planet, and its relationship to the soils and regions.

Though it would be nice to see a new edition of this wine book, it has several timeless qualities. The first, 38-page chapter (“Where Grapes Grow and Why”) is fundamental to understanding wine and essential reading for anyone looking to further their wine education. Along the same vein (or vine?), Robinson fully profiles the “classic” grape varieties, going into great detail regarding history, development, and characteristics of each.

Bottom line — this is will be somewhat dry for those looking for light reading and pretty pictures, but is an excellent reference for people who are serious about furthering their wine education and getting a more intellectual understanding of wine.

Book Review: Wine For Dummies

Wine for DummiesWhen I first started getting into wine, I didn’t even know there were different grapes. Well that’s not entirely true — I knew there was a difference between the seedless grapes I bought at the supermarket, and the “wine grapes” my grandfather grew in the backyard. But that was about it.

Needless (or seedless) to say, I was indelibly blessed when someone handed me the Wine for Dummies book — it was without a doubt the singlemost important educational wine resource for me at the time (back then, there was maybe two references to wine on the internet). More than ten years later, I still think it is a fantastic first book for wine neophytes, and that “reference for the rest of us” still rings true, as I frequently flip through my cover-worn copy to look up things.

If you are a wine beginner and hungry for information, this is one of the first books to consider. The text is friendly, fun, and easy to read, as authors Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Ed McCarthy do a wonderful job of teaching without preaching and devoid of pretense. What I find particularly helpful is the way the information is organized and the order it is presented — it’s step by step, yet you can skip around without missing anything. Further, after reading just few chapters you’re already empowered enough to confidently step into a wine shop or peruse a restaurant wine list.

Recommended reading for all wine newbies.