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Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert Hardcover – March 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Teague, the wine editor for Food & Wine, first takes Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers in hand, he's the sort of uninformed drinker who rarely spends more than $10 on a bottle and inevitably ends up selecting bad vintages. So Teague (Fear of Wine) starts pouring him selections from around the world. Each region gets its own chapter, transitioning between the tastings and Teague's general recommendations. Later, after a visit to Napa Valley, she takes Travers out to dinner to see if he'll be able to interact with sommeliers and match wine to various courses, then visits an assortment of shops to show him what to look for when building his own collection. She corrects his vocabulary when he says a wine has "a fatness to the swirl" instead of "good viscosity." He stubbornly resists New Zealand vintages because director Peter Jackson criticized them, and complains that green wine bottles keep him from seeing how red the wine is. Novice tasters can add this pleasure to more traditional guides, while enjoying the entertainment value. (Mar. 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lettie Teague is an executive editor at Food & Wine magazine. She writes a monthly column for the magazine, "Wine Matters," for which she won the 2003 James Beard M. F. K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. She is also the illustrator and coauthor of Fear of Wine.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743286774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743286770
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,493,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I wish I had borrowed this book from the library instead of paying money for it. As other reviewers have said, I wanted to like this book. The premise is good and before I actually started reading it I was envious of Peter. How great would it be to have a friend who is a wine expert, is willing to mentor you, and (apparently) has a hefty budget to buy wines for you to taste? By the end of the book I was rather glad she's not my friend...

First, the good:
1. It's short
2. It's an easy read
3. It does give some information on the wine industry, wine regions, grapes, recommended wines, etc.
4. It could be inspirational to fledgling writers because it proves that a book doesn't have to be well-written to be published.

And the bad:
1. The book is clumsily written, so bad that I had to keep reminding myself that Teague is not an amateur writer but the Wine Editor for Food and Wine Magazine.
2. Teague and Peter are annoying characters - about halfway through the book I started skipping over their inane, repetitive dialog and reading only the parts that actually talked about wine. Surely Peter had better comments and questions than what's in the book -- he sounds like a petulant teenager. The Hollywood name dropping got old quickly, too.
3. Teague gave little to no information on good and bad vintages. Isn't this sort of important when buying wine?
4. The book is only 2 years old so I expected it to be reasonably current on vintages. Even if you gave her a few years to write the book, that means she and Peter should have been tasting wine from around 2003. However, most of the wines she mentioned were from the late 1990s.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joshua on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be an interesting and entertaining high level introduction to the wine world. I will say, however, that I am dismayed by the average price point of the wines highlighted by the book. I was really hoping that I could "sip along" and educate myself, but between the $599 price tag of the latest Harlan Estate to the $289 Clarendon Hills to the $580 Lafite-Rothschild I'm afraid most of the suggestions in the book will go untasted by those of us not in the film or wine industries. To be fair, there are a few "cheaper" wines mentioned in the book. I just would have gotten a lot more out of it had Ms. Teague consistently identified "mid-priced" wines for all the regions she highlights so that more of us could have educated our palettes as opposed to just our minds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David T. Isaak on June 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
One of the nicest things about this book is the way the author slides in important geographical and technical information in "stealth mode." She actually presents quite a large quantity of specifics, but it doesn't feel as if you are being textbooked into submission, or as if you ought to be cramming for a midterm.

Peter Travers--a movie critic I quite respect, one who understands that movies are dominantly a visual medium--is of course presented as a bit of a foil, as he is the student. Unlike some of the other reviewers here I didn't perceive her portrayal of him as condescending on her part; it felt more like friendly kidding (and she lets him get in some fine zingers of his own). And some have said that he comes off as "petulant;" to me this read more as a bit unwilling to simply bend to the will of the "experts," which so many novice oenophiles so.

There is no book that is a stand-alone comprehensive introduction to wine. I've been through Zraly, Johnson, and even Jancis Robinson's handbook on grapes. They are all excellent. What they lack is context--the actual social situations and peer pressures of sampling wines. This book nails that in an amusing fashion, and also conveys a lot of factual baggage that feels weightless.

Some of the criticism of the book seems ill-founded. Wine markets change rapidly these days, and this was not intended to be a guide to shopping for bargains. That's what wine magazines and newsletters do; it would be stupid to try and do it in a book. And, yes, some of the wines they taste are so expensive that most of us will never taste them. So what? It was interesting to see whether Peter, who is not easily pressured into liking something against his will, would go along with conventional wisdom.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John H. Padgham on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read over a dozen books on wine, and this one is easily the least informative. It's a decent story and easy to read, but she only touches the surface and really doesn't provide much of a wine education at all. If you want a really good book to learn about wine, try either "Great Wine Made Simple" by Andrea Immer Robinson or "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" by Kevin Zraly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Blue Jay on April 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For years my friends thought I knew a lot about wine because I love drinking it. Reading "Educating Peter" taught me how narrow my knowledge of wine was. I realized that I only knew very few Californian, French, Australian, and Chilean wines. This intriguing book took me on an informative and humorous journey through the wines of those and many other countries in a breezy, yet detailed style that kept me wishing I was on the trip with the author instead of Peter Travers. But then again, I wouldn't have made all the cinematic connections he did, and that adds a dimension to the book film buffs will especially enjoy. The quiz at the end of the book is a fun way to see how much you've learned from reading it. Okay, I admit it's not as much fun as actually tasting all the wines mentioned, but it's as close as you can get for less than $30.
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