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First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine Down Under Hardcover – September 18, 2007
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"How refreshing! The world according to Arnold shows it isn't all Grand Cru and roses. This is the hilarious, honest, knock-it-off-the-pedestal account of how it really happens. We come away better informed, trusting our own palate, and with our vinous compass pointed to fun!"
-- Richard Betts, master sommelier and cofounder of Betts & Scholl wines
"I've collected wine since the '70s, but I never thought about making it. Now that I've read this book, I really don't want to make it. I'll stick with drinking it."
-- Sammy Hagar, singer/songwriter and founder of Cabo Wabo Tequila
""First Big Crush" is unlike any wine book I've ever read, a hugely entertaining hybrid of the participatory journalism of George Plimpton, the hallucinatory journalism of Hunter Thompson, and frat house bathroom graffiti. He's a bull in the china shop of wine writing and it's a pleasure to see him breaking everything in sight."
-- Jay McInerney, author of "The Good Life"
""First Big Crush" is a literary love child of "Maxim" and "Wine Spectator: " a raunchy, rollicking tale of a young guy's year in the vineyards of New Zealand, where his love of wine matures -- somewhat -- from the hunt for a cheap buzz to a genuine passion and appreciation."
-- Ted Allen, host/narrator of the PBS series "Uncorked: Wine Made Simple, " food and wine specialist for Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, " and author of "The Food You Want to Eat" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Eric Arnold has been an awful stand-up comedian whose only measure
of success was selling a joke to Jay Leno for $50. He has been an
editor at Wine Spectator and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Top customer reviews
However, there was no such sturm and drang in the life of 29-year-old Eric Arnold. He set off for a year to New Zealand to become immersed in grapes and the wine-making process for no better reason than he thought it was a good idea. After a few years of working at various hack writing jobs he decided to chuck it all for an up-close look at the burgeoning wine industry Down Under.
What we get is a short description of the farming community of Marlborough situated in the southern island of New Zealand, and a ton of details on the growing, pruning, and picking of grapes and then squeezing and squishing them through modern steel tanks.
During the year, Eric joins in the everyday work of the winery (which includes some close encounters with errant steel hoses and tank closures) and the more rarified tasks of tastings and competitions. This is winemaking 101 with a few side pictures of New Zealanders at work and play. While the men work 12-hour days during the season, play consists of mostly drinking, fighting, finding girls and losing their teeth at the occasional Rugby match.
The snobbism of wine sophisticates seems at a variance with the down-to-earth reality of grape-growing and wine mixing. Arnold points out that this is a farm isolated in the middle of a country where sheep outnumber people by a wide margin. He also throws in some off-color jokes to let us know this is testosterone country. Although he portrays himself as a slacker, he comes through all the wet, harried days to become a more mature man. Or at least a more mature drinker who can now judge wine with the best of them rather than just quaffing down the stuff to get a buzz. Since he now has a job at Wine Spectator he must have learned something. And he does his utmost in 245 pages to teach us what that is.
Barbara Hudgins, author of "Crafting the Travel Guidebook"
The side stories could be considered a little crass, but I found them amusing, maybe it's that New Yorker humor that I've brought with me. Nonetheless, this book has made me look forward to getting to know the NZ wine region and my adopted home a little bit better.