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Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar Paperback – March 12, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Bright lights: Krug, Latour, Lafite, Montrose. Big cities: Montalcino, Hampstead, Reims, Geyserville. Welcome to Bacchus & Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar, bestselling novelist Jay McInerney's mixed four-case lot of wine essays culled primarily from his output of "Uncorked" pieces written for House & Garden magazine. Reflecting the author's wit and opinion, it's tasty and stylish stuff. And nestled between glossy pages of photos depicting, say, a 396-square-foot TriBeCa loft decorated with a pair of Eames chairs purchased at a Brooklyn swap meet for $45, McInerney's blend of self-deprecation (his "eyebrows raised and jaw dropped" when H&G editors broached his name as wine columnist) and irreverence (on straw-covered Chianti bottles: the "bong component of choice in dorm rooms around the world") is refreshing juice. Unfortunately, as a compilation, it serves more to unmask a Eurocentric name-dropper: the bon-mot-coining D2 dilettante on an expense account who got the gig because he knew the editor. It's distressing, because there's so much to like here: "A Ticket to the Veneto" is a sparkling meld of ego and yeast; questioning whether or not to cellar wine, he concludes, "What could be more all-American than instant gratification?"; and his dead-on description of a Port hangover is quintessential McInerney. But numerous repetitions, imperceptible when published monthly, irritate when separated not by 30 days but 30 pages: Sauvignon Blanc's aroma of "pipi du chat" is funny the first time you read it, less so two essays later; likewise you won't find a single California piece that doesn't contain the words "dude" or "Helen Turley." And while it's admirable to break the mould of stuffy wine writing, McInerney's a bit long in the tastevin to adopt a "Wine Brat" posture comparing, for example, Martinelli Jackass Hill Zin more to "Free Bird" than "Jumpin' Jack Flash," or describing his first sip of Mouton "like hearing Nirvana on Saturday Night Live." Blame it on the editor, or maybe it just depends on how you devour Bacchus & Me. Sipped slowly, McInerney's words taste of the passionate amateur oenophile and skilled raconteur. Gulp 'em down and the finish is of the bestselling bon vivant with a blank check. --Tony Mason --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Brilliant, witty, comical, and often shamelessly candid and provocative thoughts about the world of wine and many of the people who produce it.” –Robert M. Parker, Jr.

“McInerney has become the best wine writer in America.” –

“McInerney’s wine judgments are sound, his anecdotes witty and his literary references impeccable. Not many wine books are good reads; this one is.” –The New York Times

“In the fruity, buttery world of wine writing, there’s nothing else like it.” –Atlanta Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037571362X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713620
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jay McInerney is the author of Bright Lights, Big City, Ransom, Story of My Life, Brightness Falls, The Last of the Savages, Model Behaviour, How It Ended and The Good Life. He lives in New York and Nashville.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By E. Mena on September 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As an employee in the wine business, and an everyday drinker, I personally know that I cannot afford purchasing 2nd or 3rd growths on a regular basis, never mind 1st growths and '55 and '28 vintage Chateau d' Yquem. This book, although some chapters were very entertaining, was nothing but a name dropping debacle. Rather than focusing on the everyday enjoyment of wine, the book strived more towards depicting the great parties Jay McInerney has attended and all snobbishness that comes with it, i.e.; a rich man turning down Cristal champagne because it was not Krug, McInerney's fear of getting wine stains on his prada clothes, and the infamous Millenium Party where he and other famous wine and food representatives had the pleasure of trying everything under the banner of luxury. I personally do not know Jancis Robinson or Sommelier Jean-Luc Le Du, and likewise I know at last 30 people who do not know them either; hence, speaking about their parties on almost every chapter (and this is not a long book, 250 pages) does not help me choose an everyday wine. Although I can imagine what an experience it must be to taste such wines, I do not need some name-dropping writer telling me that I can only enjoy wine by taking out my credit card and purchasing Petrus at $5,000 a bottle. I know I can have just as much fun, on an average day, with my girlfriend and a $20 bottle of Guigal's Crozes Hermitage.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on December 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After reading the criticisms detailed above in the official review, I have to say that I recognize some of those flaws (especially the repititions), but I don't think they take away from the fun quality of this book. At times, I felt kind of a Dave Barry meets Robert Parker quality of writing. Here's an example regarding correct pairings of reds/whites with food: "If someone else is buying Chateau Petrus or Chateau d'Yquem, by all means drink as much of it as you can, no matter what hell you're eating. Give the food to the dog."
For a good overview of just about every major grape and region, this book may be more helpful to a beginner than a more detailed Parker book which might give more than you need to know. I appreciate McInenery's taste for good wine and his lighthearted columns on his experiences. Every once in a while I'd have a jealousy attack (not all of us can quaff a Petrus or Yquem on a weekly basis), but at least I can afford to read about it. This is a great introduction to wine tasting with none of the technical stuff that should get in the way. I'll conclude with another one of my favorites "rants," this one on Robert Parker, "The self-proclaimed American Wine Advocate, who at the start of his career couldn't even speak the language, was recently awarded the Legion d'Honneur for telling the Frogs that a lot of their venerable Bordeaux and Burgundy isn't as great as it should be and some of it positively sucks." Nice to keep a sense of humor while discussing these wine topics.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on April 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Jay McInerney was one of the voices of the 1980s, the era known for its conspicuous consumption, self-absorption and decadence. With this book, he seems intent on singing the same song years after the curtain was drawn.
Ostensibly, this is a book about wines -- one of my passions -- and for the first few dozen pages it appears to be just that. There are some interesting and unusual observations about wine on the pages of Bacchus & Me, and Mr. McInerney deserves credit (hence the three stars) for breaking many of the crusty and useless conventions that limit most wine literature.
But the more one reads the book, the more one realizes that the chapters are less about wine than about Mr. McInerney himself. He reveals himself as a shameless name dropper, and someone most interested in repeating a half dozen humorous and entertaining observations in a variety of contexts while boasting about his fat expense account and privileged access to bottles of wine that most of us will never even see.
The problem is not that these lines are uninteresting or irrelevant -- as an occasional aside they would add to the intriguing take on one of the world's most written-about subjects. But in the frequency in which they appear here they can leave a throbbing in the head like an old bottle of jug wine does, when what we really wanted was one of those fine bottles of Bordeaux Mr. McInerney seems to be in love with.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By schapmock on November 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Would it have been so much trouble to subject McInerney's collection of wine columns to some minor editorial work before publishing them as a book? There's much to like about the individual pieces here, but reading them sequentially becomes kind of annoying.
First off, the repetition is ridiculous. Helen Turley, "the wine goddess," should pay or possibly sue McInerney for mentioning her every third paragraph, and even some jokes get recycled. More frustrating is the lack of context: as this book is squarely pitched to the uneducated wine enthusiast, a little contextualizing would go a long way to making the columns actually useful(as would the occasional sop to those of us not regularly spending over $100 a bottle). And eventually we tire of hearing about the fabulous literary/oenophile dinner parties to which Jay is constantly invited.
All that said, the columns are funny and opinionated, and give a nice overview of a wide range of grapes and manufacturers. I'm sure reading one a month would be perfectly satisfying. It's just a shame the publisher was so lazy in assembling this package.
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