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Reading between the Wines Hardcover – September 9, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A consequential book, rich in ideas and powerful in feeling."--"New York Times"

"I read it almost in one gulp: he writes beautifully, uninhibitedly... almost, one might say, drunkenly... a man after my own heart."--"-Hugh Johnson"

"Wise and funny, committed and sincere, but never dogmatic. . . .A passionate defense of the importance of wine."--"The World of Fine Wine"

"Theise first demystifies how to experience wine, then remystifies it by reinstating pleasure as what it's all about." STARRED REVIEW--"Library Journal"

"It's not even wine that Theise is really tackling. It's aesthetics. As such he skillfully reminds us of wine's timeless place in culture."--"Sf Chronicle"

From the Inside Flap

"There is only one reason that the American wine enthusiast is now completely enamored with German and Austrian wines: Terry Theise! This glorious book not only brilliantly showcases one man's love affair with all the beauties that can flow from the bottle, it definitively makes the case for the wines that are the most superbly suited to be served with food."—Chef Charlie Trotter

"Terry Theise's humane, subtle and engaging book illustrates the superiority of wisdom to mere knowledge. Read and be richer."—Andrew Jefford, columnist for Decanter and The World of Fine Wine

"Impassioned, insistent, and inimitable, Terry Theise is America's foremost wine philosopher. Lots of writers can explain the "what" of wine. Terry, uniquely, inspires us with the 'why'. I devoured Reading Between the Wines; it's the single best book I've ever read on why wine matters."—Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible

"If you think you know something about wine, try Terry Theise's Reading Between the Wines because until you do, you haven't really started."—Tom Stevenson, author of Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (September 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520265335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520265332
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Any man who quotes Anaïs Nin in a book about wine automatically gets bonus Gonzo points from me, and if in same said book he's got wordplay with Blue Öyster Cult lyrics, well I develop a crush that tends to sway me to overlook the fact that I needed to keep a dictionary handy while reading his book, because I've simply never had cause to use words like ecumenical or pusillanimous. Terry Theise, iconic importer and rock star wannabe, will be the first to tell you that "there's a lot of lousy prose and shallow thinking out there" in the world of wine writing, but his is as far removed from that sad description as wine writing can possibly get, and I'm thankful for it.

My bookshelves are burdened down with tomes about wine. They're bowed with the weight of books given biblical status for their wealth of information and books that serve as little more than romantic memoirs about wine-soaked lives. But there are very few--in fact only one other I can think of besides this, Nossiter's "Liquid Memory"--that exist as visceral dissertations on what wine does...move us. Theise's new book speaks of wine having the capability of being a portal to the mystic, and his conviction to this end is utterly seductive. There were points when I found myself reading his proselytizing out on my deck well past twilight, sometimes laughing out loud, sometimes nodding in passionate agreement, and other times lost in his candor. It's no small coincidence that Terry describes taking wine-tasting notes as often being obtrusive when you are engaged in what you've just experienced, because I felt the same about trying to take notes while reading this book--"it's like ignoring a rainbow so you can balance your checkbook.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here we have yet another in a growing library of recent books that delve into the heart and soul of wine and ask the Big Questions. Why does wine matter? Why does terroir matter? Who gives a damn about "scoring" wine? Are there universal and absolute measures of "quality," or is a simple and honest bottle of cool, crisp rose, slurped with good ham, ripe melon and a fresh baguette on a hot summer day as "great" in its own way as a bottle of 1990 La Tache, sipped reverently on a grand occasion? Is Robert Parker The Devil, or just a guy with his own quirky palate who has been misunderstood and misused by armies of newbies hungry for easy answers to the questions "what wine should I buy" and "what wine am I supposed to like"?

Terry Theise has got his chops down, no doubt about it. He sure as heck knows German and Austrian wines better than any human I know -- to the extent that his focus on these wines makes portions of this book a bit of a tough sled for a dyed in the wool Burgundy addict like me, and probably for other folks who aren't devoted accolytes of Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Scheurebe and the like. It would be easier for me to connect with the book were it more focused on the wines, the growers and the land that I do know pretty well, which ain't Germany and Austria.

As others have said here, this is a heartfelt and insightful little book, full of wisdom and witticisms about the making and enjoyment of wine -- wine as an integral part of life and culture, not as an academic exercise, or a competition among Screaming Eagle swilling hedge fund managers who buy and drink by the Parker bible. For all that, Theise is not a Parker basher, like some others.
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Format: Hardcover
Joining Lawrence Osbourne's The Accidental Connoisseur and Matt Kramer's Making Sense of Wine on the thoughtful wine enthusiasts bookshelf, Theise has written a book that is so wholly singular to his point of view, yet so persuasive that he may yet convert thousands to the wonders of small, artisanal wines from around the world, joining the insider cadre that have followed his German, Austrian and grower Champagne import selections and annual catalog-cum-stream of consciousness manifesto.

To be sure, Theise isn't the first to espouse a conviction about the value of Old World wines that are authentic, terroir-based and in possession of a bent toward the transcendental, he's just the first in the last decade to write with enough clarity and generosity of spirit to potentially turn New World agnostics into Old World disciples, connecting with a new generation of wine enthusiasts for whom the lifestyle mavens and old media dogs are as relatable as a narc at a biker rally.

While reading the slim volume, losing myself in the theatre of my mind, I imagine Theise sitting across the table from me in the dining room of an old row house in a hardscrabble town, maybe Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Upstate NY, somewhere suitably unfashionable, explaining to me his philosophy on wine -- and by proxy -- life. The education is just getting started when Theise says, at the end of the introduction, just pages into the book, "Confected wines are not designed for human beings; they are designed for `consumers.' Which do you want to be?" At this point, he has removed my defenses, punched me in the gut and put his arm around me whispering reassuringly that I am not that big of a jerk, there is still time to see the light; there is hope.
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