From Publishers Weekly
Veteran wine expert Kramer's (Making Sense of Burgundy) Wine Spectator column has given oenophiles plenty of drink for thought. Those new to the vine will appreciate this thoughtful collection of his articles and essays. Despite three decades of experience, his perspective and enthusiasm for wine and viniculture hasn't soured. Though his book is packed with winemaker profiles and expected insight on everything from the particulars of Bordeaux, the rise of California wines, and what it's like to taste wildly rare and expensive wines, it's Kramer's unabashed passion for the topic that matters. Whether gleefully excoriating the pomp and circumstance of the Institute of Masters of Wine, or debunking myths about the correlation between price and quality (none), Kramer proves himself a rare beast: the everyman expert. Tips such as the benefit of rinsing, or "seasoning," wine glasses with the wine about to be served, and essays on the true cost of producing a decent bottle of wine (about ten bucks) make this an informative overview of a much-loved subject, without the need for a dinner jacket and expensive glass. (Sept.)
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Ever perceptive and ever contrarian, Kramer in his chatty, conversational writings has the rare ability to spot and to debunk the pretentious and the avaricious in the world of fine wine without ever belittling either winemakers or wine consumers. This anthology brings together articles that Kramer has contributed to Wine Spectator and the late New York Sun. Kramer unabashedly loves French wines from Burgundy to Alsace, but he finds Bordeaux bottlings less than honestly produced and chateau proprietors more interested in immense profit than in genuine quality. He respects California winemakers, but finds some of them too often diluting value with volume and taking advantage of lax regulations to gouge consumers. Kramer also finds fault with other wine writers and gullible consumers whose taste too readily fall prey to mere marketing hype. Essays from earlier decades often have brief appendixes that clarify or update their contents. Kramer stands as a great demystifier of wine. --Mark Knoblauch