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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, a little disjointed, February 29, 2012
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I just finished this book and definitely enjoyed all the insights about the various companies offering bargain wines. The suggestions for bargain wines in the back 1/3 of the book will be an interesting guide in helping us fine some good everyday drinkers that won't break the bank. I did think the book was a little disjointed however, jumping from topic to topic in a somewhat haphazard way, and some of the details on exactly HOW wineries buy bulk grapes and juice and yet make a consistent product would have been helpful. Overall though, a good read, and I feel more informed about the true breadth of the wine industry and the players that have helped make decent wine available to a broader swath of the population.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wino, September 6, 2012
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I have been confused by all the types of wines and needed some guidance. This book helped me to understand the wine business, the history and especially the people behind what you finally taste in your glass. I finally found out what I really enjoy and why. The big news to me was the Box Wines. Read this slowly and enjoy it just as you do with what you drink!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great wines, December 11, 2011
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This book is not unsimilar to Wine Trials 2011. But happily the various esseys are on somewhat different subjects. The reviews of wines is also done differently. Inexpensive and a fun read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, March 19, 2012
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I bought one of these for myself and after reviewing it, I bought two more for my friends. They gave me great feedback, just as I suspected.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a precious insight in todays wine business and deep value wines, January 1, 2015
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The first part of the book is the straightforward story of some of the wine successes in the everydays wines in the world with a major focus on the US market: I've been reading it like a fiction and really enjoyed it. You will also find a lot of connections to the best wine producers who, oftentimes under different labels, are involved in this segment. There is a very clear description of major sorld grapes. The second oart if the book is all about the value eines and brands of the sorld eith a truly exhaustive coverage, always including brief history snd anectodes which make the book smooth and pleasant to read till the end. Buy it if you want to eiden your knowkedge of value wines or the wine business.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best wine book ever, June 24, 2014
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Best wine book ever. Cuts through all the hype and bull surrounding wine, marketing, branding, quality, "gold medals" and more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Toast to – Making the Most of – Bargain Wines, June 13, 2014
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Eve Bushman (Southern California) - See all my reviews
George M. Taber, made famous in the wine world for writing about how Napa winemaking beat out France in the infamous Judgment of Paris tasting, has a new offering, it would seem, for those of us thwarted in our wine buying by the current economic woes felt nationwide, in his book A Toast to Bargain Wines.

For me, having been blessed with a well-stocked cellar, and unsolicited wines to review, I have to tell it to you straight right now: I’m not buying [ yellow tail ] after reading this book, but I was amazed to learn so much about the maverick winemakers behind the popular brands, the up and comers and some behind-the-scenes stories…enough so that I wanted to give you a sip:

Glen Ellen, which happened to be my wedding wine in 1986, was one of the first wineries to list the grape variety name on the label (ours was the Chardonnay) and is credited, among a few other wines in the 80s, when diners stopped ordering a glass of white wine and began to ask for a glass of Chardonnay.

And a few interesting words about wine judging.: Taber writes that a study by the Journal of Wine Economics showed that out of over 2400 wines entered in more than three wine judging contests, 47 percent received gold medals – but 84 percent of those never received another award in any other contest. Several conclusions were drawn, but, of note for me as a wannabe judge: the contrast by the Lodi International Wine Awards – where judges are given more time to evaluate each wine and are not allowed to speak to others.

You should be able to find Black Box wines at Cost Plus World Market (on the Old Road in Stevenson Ranch for locals) that has done well with its own tally of 15 gold medals and some scores up to the high 80s from the Wine Spectator. Personally, I like the box, grew up on the Franzia in my twenties, but if you have kids in the house, don’t bother with the box. (And while I’m on the subject, lock your liquor cabinet and cellar. I haven’t had a problem yet.)

In the use of descriptors, Taber quotes Coco Krumme of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an interesting rule: “Expensive wines are described in terms indicating authenticity or exclusivity (versus accessibility), fullness of flavor (rather than lightness), and specificity (versus generality)…”

I mentioned the [yellow tail] brand earlier. A lot of money has been made on inexpensive wines produced in bulk. I’m happy about that as I want my industry to continue to flourish. Taber spends quite a bit of time on our Aussie neighbors and their inexpensive results in winemaking. In my humble opinion, inexpensive wines from many new world areas besides Australia like Chile, Argentina and Spain can be just as worthwhile. Sometimes wine prices reflect more the price of real estate than it does good tasting wine, like Napa prices verses Paso Robles.

China has become the 6th largest wine producer – though most is not exported YET, give them time Taber basically says – and the 5th largest consumer. I want a road trip.

The last 100 pages or so of the book is dedicated to a break down, per grape variety, of Taber’s top bargain wines. His blind tasting system, and dedication to the task ( twice weekly blind tastings, overseen by his wife) produced lists that were not wholly unexpected…and helpful to a grocery list shopper as most can be found on the wine shelves in the local supermarket, with additional nods to “splurge” wines much in the same way Natalie MacLean recently listed hers in the last book I reviewed, Unquenchable, A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines.

His ending section, on specific wineries by area to try, was a nice education for the novice or aficionado, as everyone can always find something new to drink when they are open to learning.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Taber is the best wine writer out there, May 21, 2014
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George Taber has done some very nice books on the topic of wine, including the book on the Paris tasting that the Bottle Shock movie is very loosely based on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a page turner!, October 3, 2013
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An interesting book, with intersting info, not really much to write here!
FOR sure worth a bargain price, as there is always an interesting tidbit and this book had a few. if you are well read in wine, this would not be for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative, but . . ., December 3, 2012
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My goodness, to have tried all those wines Mr. Taber must have a liver the size of a large watermelon. That aside, though, the book is entertaining, even if sometimes self-contradictory (here dismissing awards as meaningless, and there citing them as evidence for this or that wine). My own experience with a couple of the many wines he recommends did not square with his (I found them pretty much undrinkable, though both are very widely available: an Oak Leaf Cab Sauv and a Barefoot Cellars Chardonnay), but perhaps it is unfair to judge from one sample of each of the bargain-bin wines. Still, I'd take his recommendations with a grain of salt, even while wanting to keep an eye open for some of the names he discusses.

For a wildly contrasting point of view, let me recommend Grape-A-Hol: http://www.amazon.com/Grape-Hol-Business-Subverting-Winemaking/dp/1457510308 . And for a wide and fun perspective on the industry, Wine Wars (by a wine economist!): http://www.amazon.com/Wine-Wars-Miracle-Revenge-Terroirists/dp/0742568202 . Anyway, I read A Toast to Bargain Wines all the way through until near the end, where I skimmed or skipped over wine-producing regions I'm less interested in. For whatever it is worth, I'm finding that twenty- or thirty-dollar-a-bottle artisan wines from local wineries (the greater Sacramento, California, area is blessed with an abundance of them, from the Valley to the Sierra Foothills) offer a very different (more interesting, rewarding) experience even from relatively good widely distributed bargain wines. I am coming around to the view that life is too short for cheap wine (or at least, for an exclusive preference for cheap wine).
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