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First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine Down Under Hardcover – September 18, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416537694
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416537694
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,829,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eric Arnold has been an awful stand-up comedian whose only measure

of success was selling a joke to Jay Leno for $50. He has been an

editor at Wine Spectator and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Without a doubt the funniest wine book I've come across.
Cyber Sommelier
First Big Crush is a highly entertaining but solid primer about the wine making process, told from the vantage point of a likable and very direct narrator.
Marisa D'vari
Anyone who thinks that wine books are pompous or boring has a pleasant surprise in store.
George M. Taber

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Hudgins on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Lately there have been a number of travel memoirs in the "how I took a year off and did something crazy in a foreign country" mode. Usually these travels have been inspired by a great emotional upheaval in the writer. Consider the current bestseller, "Eat, Pray, Love" in which the author goes off to Italy, India and Indonesia to recover from a love affair and reinvent her life. Or the past bestseller, "Under the Tuscan Sun" which also had a writer take off to find a new life after tumult in the old one.

However, there was no such sturm and drang in the life of 29-year-old Eric Arnold. He set off for a year to New Zealand to become immersed in grapes and the wine-making process for no better reason than he thought it was a good idea. After a few years of working at various hack writing jobs he decided to chuck it all for an up-close look at the burgeoning wine industry Down Under.
What we get is a short description of the farming community of Marlborough situated in the southern island of New Zealand, and a ton of details on the growing, pruning, and picking of grapes and then squeezing and squishing them through modern steel tanks.
During the year, Eric joins in the everyday work of the winery (which includes some close encounters with errant steel hoses and tank closures) and the more rarified tasks of tastings and competitions. This is winemaking 101 with a few side pictures of New Zealanders at work and play. While the men work 12-hour days during the season, play consists of mostly drinking, fighting, finding girls and losing their teeth at the occasional Rugby match.
The snobbism of wine sophisticates seems at a variance with the down-to-earth reality of grape-growing and wine mixing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marisa D'vari on September 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
So you've seen the film Sideways and know how geeky wine aficionados can get about their favorite grape. Hey, you've been there too after a few glasses of Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. Once upon a time you felt pretty slick about your wine savvy, but now you're curious to learn more. How is wine made, anyway? What happens during the harvest? Are grapes stomped, Lucille Ball style, by humans standing in a large wooden cask, or is it a mechanical process?

Duly motivated, you zip off to the store and find dozens of books detailing how wine is made. Yet after skimming the dry, dense, detailed paragraphs that remind you of your high school chemistry textbook, your eyes glaze over.

Enter Eric Arnold, whose new book, First Big Crush, is a colorful, laugh-out-loud funny account of his tenure during a New Zealand grape harvest, filled with wacky real-life characters. Of course, I should have figured as much. The first time I saw Arnold, on a WineSpectator.com video clip, he was cleaning the interior of a wine tank, gangly jean-covered legs waving in the air. This guy, I thought, is up for anything.

What first brings Arnold, then an unemployed editor, to Alan Scott Wines in New Zealand is the prospect of getting paid to lazily drink wine in the sun. Very quickly, Arnold discovers winemaking is real work, and dangerous at that. One day, he shows up for his assigned task without boots, expecting to simply push a button. To his surprise, he's expected to kick a half-ton container of grapes, and nearly loses a toe. Instead of sympathizing, Arnold's New Zealand colleagues taunt him, asking why he's walking like a girl.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By George M. Taber on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who thinks that wine books are pompous or boring has a pleasant surprise in store. This book is delightfully funny. Yes, there is a funny side to wine when Eric Arnold is in control. But it's not just funny; it's also informative. I am a huge fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and have even visited there. Nonetheless I learned a lot about the Kiwis and their approach to wine from the book. That is making my enjoyment of their wine even stronger. From screwcaps to terroir the book covers it all with a crisp freshness that is as enjoyable as one of those New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sherri Green on November 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Eric Arnold took a subject that could have been as dry and pompous as a California Chardonnay and actually made me want to read about it. Of course, I didn't retain all the information because I took his advice and read some of the chapters while drinking wine. I learned more than I really wanted to know about some aspects of the author's personal life, but that's part of what makes the book accessible for those who would rather drink wine than obsess about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Mac on March 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author's unrelenting use of tacky sexual simile might be difficult to deal with if the overall content of the book wasn't quite so interesting...his 'hands dirty' insight to this small piece of the wine making business is compelling, though, and I found myself ignoring his hormonal excess. This is one that I'll read again.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cyber Sommelier on October 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a fellow devotee of Bacchus/Dionysius I can speak with authority on this young man's grasp of the subject matter. Without a doubt the funniest wine book I've come across. I laughed out loud several times when perhaps I shouldn't. Like, in the jury room as i awaited certain dismissal from some petit crime or another... Anyway, drink along with the writer and taste the subtle and/or not so subtle differences between say, Spy Valley, Palliser, and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. An excellent report from an imbedded journalist of the wine wars. Bravo!
The Cyber Sommelier
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