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China Through a Glass of Wine Paperback – July 19, 2016
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About the Author
Internationally-regarded sommelier Noel Shu, Managing Partner for the ultra-luxe award-winning wine and spirits purveyor Prodiguer Brands, is a self-made millionaire, entrepreneur and author. With impeccable panache and style, Shu has already accomplished more than many do in an entire lifetime.He earned his undergraduate degree at West Point, completed the U.S. Army's elite and grueling Combat Diver Qualification Course at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School (regarded by many soldiers as the toughest military school to endure), and has personally designed and sold extraordinary multi-million dollar timepieces and necklaces to China's elite through his ancillary, highly successful luxury jewelry business. Always striving for growth and self-improvement and with a reverence for continuing education, despite his busy schedule Shu is currently pursuing an Ivy League Master's degree at Columbia University. As a globally-minded business practitioner, Shu understands commerce on both sides of the Pacific and brings that expertise to bear with his various ventures, including the highly anticipated release of "Regale"--an exclusive wine brand expressly developed for the Chinese marketplace, which will be exported to the region later this year. Shu may be reached at www.chinathroughaglass.com.
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China: Through A Glass of Wine
by Noel Shu
Acquired: Through Word Slinger Publicity in exchange for an honest review
Paperback: 130 pages
Publisher: Cafe Con Leche Books (July 19, 2016)
The Story: Get ready for the world's first no-holds-barred journey through China's emerging wine culture. Following the tradition of great traveling sommeliers, Noel Shu guides us through the misty vineyards and crowded wineries of China. A delicate interplay unfolds: The PRC struggles with wine's infamous bourgeois reputation (read-million dollar wine collections seized anti-corruption crackdowns) even as the blossoming middle class gravitate toward all things Western. Cross-cultural examination, ethnography, travel book, and tasting guide, one thing is for certain, once you've seen China "through a glass of wine," you'll never see it the same again!
The Review: When reading the summary of this book through the Word Slinger Email, Bookworm got really excited. Ever since Bookworm saw the movie Bottle Shock (good movie, you should check it out) he has become fascinated with wine and wine culture. Bookworm also likes Asian culture and when he saw this book, he wanted. It combined two favorite things and also told the story of an emerging market, which can be very dramatic.
Unfortunately…while the bottle and label looked very fancy, what poured into the glass was something that succumbed to cork taint.
This book reads like a cheap bottle of Pinot Grigio, dry, stinging, and without much flavor. When Bookworm read the summary, misty vineyards and crowded wineries, what was expected was a story! Something along the lines of the Coldest Winter by David Halberstam, non-fiction to be certain but something dramatic, something human. We would be taken on journey and meet people and uncover their stories and slowly discern the flavors in the wine as we roll them over our tongues.
Bookworm is no wine snob and shouldn’t have let his expectations preform judgment but even on its own this book fails to engage on many levels. It reminded Bookworm of a math textbook (shudder). It is crammed with statistics and facts and frankly, a lot of boredom. This is a book about the Chinese Wine Industry, not Chinese Wine.
It reads more like a manual on investment in wine than actually about wine which is what Bookworm expected. Like reading the fine print on the label than actually savoring the flavors. There are also several passages where the author delves into the new Chinese culture. Bookworm understands that this is done to provide context but at times it can feel unnecessary. The passages sometimes have little to do with wine, talking more about luxury cars and the growing middle class.
The purely factual nature of much of this text with a lack of personality can be a turn off for some readers.
If the purely factual nature of this text is a turn on though, this book may do it for some readers. The text is painstakingly researched with a concise bibliography, though some of the citations seem incomplete but that may have to do the fact that Bookworm’s edition was a review copy.
It also introduces to a problem that many of us who enjoy wine are unaware off: counterfeit wine. It stands to reason that most people know that China, being the world’s factory, is a hub of counterfeited and bootleg goods. Bookworm did not know that even wine can be counterfeited which poses a serious problem, both to producers and consumers. What Bookworm did like though was how the author pointed out how some of these counterfeited vintages can actually hold up compared to legitimate wines. Some critics actually favored them. That is a unique approach taken to counterfeiting as the practice is almost universally considered a source for cheap, inferior, substandard goods. It is a particularly complex glass that requires a discerning palate.
Unfortunately, the way it is presented is still very dry and while it may be refreshing change from the onslaught of statistics and citations, it still falls flat and cannot save the rest of the book.
Final Verdict: If you are interested in Chinese Wine from an investment standpoint than this book is of the right vintage. If one is looking for something a bit more personal this may not be the bottle for you. Be ready though for a very factual enriching but not very flavorful vintage.
Two Wine Bottles out of Five
(Bookworm loved writing the wine puns though)
Shu describes the history of wine making in China, including the influences and investments from prestigious wine makers in France and Italy. Shu gives background information to how the Chinese reason and try to succeed in commercialism while impacted by government control. He also gives quite thorough insight for companies coming from outside China to understand how to succeed in the Chinese market.
If you are a wine enthusiast, interested in doing business in China or simply love to learn about cultures in the world, you could thoroughly enjoy this book.