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Notes on a Cellar-Book Hardcover – October 15, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520253523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520253520
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #940,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“An indispensable read.. . . Saintsbury's thoughtful love of drink comes through clearly.”
(SF Chronicle 2008-11-28)

As much a model for wine writing as . . . an historical document revealing how wines were once regarded and how times have changed.
(John Mariani Bloomberg News 2008-12-01)

“If you love to drink wine, and love a good read, you have to get ahold of this book.”
(Vinography 2009-04-19)

A glimpse into our viticultural past, as well as a revelation of how great wine and great literature can go hand-in-hand.
(Good Wine Under $20 2008-12-11)

“Few wine books posses the iconic status of George Saintsbury’s Notes on a Cellar-Book.”
(Wine Spectator 2008-12-31)

“There is much food for thought here, and a facinating window on another age of connoisseurship. “
(Jancis Robinson 2008-12-18)

“Read this book twice: once without pausing to flip back and forth-you’ll be beguiled, befuddled and amused-and then once with the notes.”
(The Wine News 2008-12-01)

About the Author

George Saintsbury (1845-1933) was a journalist, reviewer, critic, editor, and Professor of Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Thomas Pinney is Professor of English Emeritus at Pomona College. Among other books, he is author of A History of Wine in America (in two volumes from UC Press).

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chambolle VINE VOICE on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a wine geek, and perhaps even if you're not, you've heard of Saintsbury's Notes on a Cellar-Book. Prof. Saintsbury (1845-1933) was a journalist and later a professor of English Literature at Edinburgh. Notes on a Cellar-Book is his only book on wine and spirits, published in 1920 towards the end of his career, during the dark days of Prohibition in the United States and a noisy temperance movement in the UK.

Cellar-Book is one of those works that everyone knows about but few people have actually read, and five minutes with an original edition of the book will reveal why. It is so chock full of obscure literary allusions, puns, references to once-current events and other arcane matters that it is almost impossible to follow. I've tried to plough through my own 1920 edition of it unassisted many times over the past couple of decades, and to be perfectly honest, I never really made any headway on the road to comprehension.

Thomas Pinney's new edition includes detailed annotations that finally make the Cellar-Book comprehensible and enjoyable.

So is it all worth it? Yes, if you are seeking an insight into Saintsbury's realm -- the aesthetics of wine and food in a scholarly world that existed before anyone dreamed up the Wine Spectator, Gourmet Magazine, Robert Parker, and the Food Channel. Before celebrity chefs. When an English professor of modest means could enjoy Richebourg and Montrachet, before hedge fund zillionaires who dump ten thousand bucks on a bottle of Burgundy, or a couple million to remodel the corner office.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wine Teacher VINE VOICE on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Notes on a Cellar Book", originally published in 1920, was one of the first books on wine in the English language. It kicked off a generation of English wine criticism style that remains to this day. The authur George Saintsbury recalls a life time of imbibing and dining, giving us a glimpse of an era from over a century ago. It is opinionated but that makes it fun. Most of the wines and other drinks mentioned are still the standard of what a serious wine drinker/collector would have today, albeit of the more current vintages. It is not an easy read for someone who does not know a lot about wine. Saintbury's comments would not make much sense to such a person nor would there be much relevance. For a wine neophite whose wine experience is limited to current American and other New World wines, this book will most likely be a disappointment. When Saintsburgy wrote this book, the American wine industry was still in its infancy. American wines were almost completely unavailable in England. Saintbury would not easily have the chance to try them. Most of what he did write about are widely available to us and are the standards of a good wine cellar today. This was "the" book for those interested in wine in the twenties and thirties. Judging by the number of editions and printings since 1920, it has been a reasonably popular book. If one is short in wine knowledge but wanting to read this book, Thomas Pinney the American wine historian, has done an annotated version of this book. Pinney has provided a lot of the background to make this book more accessable to a wine neophite. However, for those who are not able to follow Saintbury on their own and needing Pinney's help, they would probably not find this book interesting enough even with the annotation.Read more ›
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Egger on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Did not enjoy this book at all. Could not get past the first chapter.
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