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Showing 1-10 of 63 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 115 reviews
on March 6, 2017
If you like wine, and feel your knowledge about that magical elixir is not what you'd like it to be, Andrea Immer can help you along a great deal. You will find her writing delightful, never stodgy, stuffy, or nose unusually pointed in a skyward direction. Many people are 'turned off' by the air of effete snobbishness [if I may borrow a phrase from someone else]. This wine reference is quite a bit different. It's a pleasure to read...not like a thrilling page turner that will keep you reading well past the hour which usually signals that "you're done for this day". You can use the well arranged index to search for wine types, or vineyard information, bottle styles, words which will help you describe a wine without sounding like a wine critic who's been sampling too generous an amount of that which he/she's supposed to be critiquing. This is an enjoyable thought, one that Ms. Immer has written with much thought, a lot of experience, and the sheer joy of tasting one of this world's most lovely of creations. Wine! Truly a miracle and a wonderful delight. I can easily and happily give this a five star rating.
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Informative, practical, easy-to-read, and useful. That's an awesome combo, eh? I was inspired by this book to create my own wine-tasting party (my wife and I). Doing side-by-side tasting in the range of reds, it helped us discover what we really liked. Who da thunk?
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on April 1, 2017
I have been interested in wine for more than 40 years. this is the BEST book I know of for either a beginner or a person of moderate interest to learn the differences between different grapes or different regions of the world and their utilization of particular grapes. I recommend this book HIGHLY!
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on June 4, 2015
Learned so much from this. The tastings are easy to setup, which you must do because there's no substitute for experiencing what she's describing. My only quibble is that she needs to have current wine recommendations for the tasting exercises (maybe on her website?); there is some variation in some of the years and she should be adjusting to that. But otherwise this is a must read for both novices looking to learn in fun and approachable ways, and veterans who might be pleasantly surprised by the process of recalibrating their palate. Her goal is to help you be able to read the basic info presented on a wine label -- particularly varietal and region of origin -- and get a sense of whether you might like it. Her insights on how to do that are indeed very insightful and useful.
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on March 20, 2010
This is the best introductory book for wine that I have seen for several reasons:

1. By the time you get through the first few chapters and do the exercises, you'll know more useful things about wine than the vast majority of people.

2. What you'll know, you will be able to remember. The lessons learned in the book are simple and the tastings make them tangible.

3. This book removes the pretention from wine and simplifies the subject dramatically without reducing meaning. It starts from common red and white grapes - then what some common attributes of wines produced from those grapes are (oaky, tannic, etc.) It proceeds with explaining how climate effects grapes, and proceeds into Old World/New World distinctions, aged wines, and unusual wines.

When first learning about wine, I started with the "Dummies" book but wasn't pleased - I found it didn't make any attempt to provide a framework for understanding. It started with "France", and then proceeded to "Bordeaux" and "Burgundy", pointing out every village and Xth Growth estate. And then went country by country, with bits of knowledge here and there. I finished the book feeling like I knew less than when I started. This book was much simpler but provided much greater knowledge.

For a while, anyway, you can keep costs under control following the tastings in this book. Still, figure that bottle cost will be upwards of $1000-1500 to get through all the tastings, if that's your objective.
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on March 20, 2008
Andrea Immer Robinson's Great Wine Made Simple (2005) succeeds brilliantly in making sense of the complex worlds of wine. I have read several introductions to wine, including Michael Broadbent's Michael Broadbent's Wine Tasting (Mitchell Beazley Wine Guides), Jancis Robinson's How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine, Mark Oldman's Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine: 108 Ingenious Shortcuts to Navigate the World of Wine with Confidence and Style, and Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2008 Edition (Windows on the World Complete Wine Course) and I recommend them all, but I learned the most from Andrea Robinson's book. Her original and easy-to-follow approach will greatly enhance the appreciation of wine for new and experienced wine drinkers alike.

There are dozens of wine grapes, but Robinson reduces this complexity by emphasizing the "Big Six." These are three white grapes (riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay) and three red grapes (pinot noir, merlot/cabernet sauvignon, syrah or shiraz) that provide most of the world's quality wines. Each group of three is listed in ascending order of body style, i.e., light, medium, or full. She clarifies these styles by comparing their weight, richness, and thickness in the mouth to skim milk, whole milk, and cream. Robinson then lays out tasting sequences with easily available wines that show the distinctive quality and body of each grape. You quickly get an idea of the world's primary wine styles.

In the succeeding chapters on taste, Robinson recommends that you taste wines side by side in carefully chosen pairs that will highlight key tastes. This method is far superior to tasting one wine at a sitting. Wines can generate a seemingly infinite number of tastes and here Robinson simplifies things by concentrating on pairs of wine that exemplify the major style terms of dry, crisp, oaky, tannic, buttery, grassy, spicy, floral, and Old World vs. New World.

In another great innovation, Robinson introduces flavor maps of the wine world combining where grapes are grown with climates. The maps are a bit hard to read at first, but well worth the effort, because they help you predict what a wine will taste like once you know where it's from. For example, white grapes grown in cool climates may produce light bodied wines with apple or pear flavors while white grapes grown in warm climates may produce full bodied wines with pineapple or mango flavors. I found the flavor maps to be the most valuable part of the book, because they help you organize the world's wines into a system that explains why they taste the way they do.

The remainder of the book is more conventional in its approach, with surveys of French, Italian, American regions and so on followed by such topics as shopping for wine, wine and food, and wine gear. In these sections, Robinson continues to communicate key information about wine without oversimplifying.

I think Great Wine Made Simple does make a few missteps. A major omission is that only the briefest mention is made of serving temperatures. She does note that whites tend to be served too cold and reds too warm. Robinson's 2008 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone, which I also highly recommend, does a satisfactory job explaining how to serve various types of wine; but I like Andrew Oldman's general rule that white wines should be chilled for several hours and then removed 15 minutes before serving while reds should be refrigerated for 15 minutes before serving. Robinson could have said more about how to analyze the finish of a wine. Here I like the approach of her mentor, Kevin Zraly at Windows of the World in New York City, who describes what you should expect at fifteen second intervals in the minute or so after you have swallowed the wine.

Robinson occasionally criticizes other wine writers for being too technical. In part she does this because she feels that beginners will lose interest when confronted with overly technical prose, but this assumes that readers don't know how to select a basic introduction to wine as opposed to a more advanced book. Robinson's ideas easily stand on their own and are not strengthened by disparagement of those who write at a more detailed level or use specialized wine terminology.

To end, my criticisms are minor compared to Robinson's substantial achievement. She has assembled an impressive apparatus for appreciating wine. My wine knowledge increased by several orders of magnitude after having read her book, and I know I will be returning to it for years to come.
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on November 9, 2014
A great intro to wines, aptly titled. I knew nothing of wines before, now I am no longer intimidated. Bring it, baby. I only gave 4 stars because the Flavor maps were almost unreadable (I have the Kindle Edition). Even when I zoom it in, I could hardly decipher what they say. Too bad, because they are a handy reference. The Kindle edition needs better quality images, zoom in or zoom out.
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on April 8, 2017
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on March 12, 2003
Completely through dumb luck, I picked up a bottle of wine for a recent dinner party that was not only delicious in its own right, it made the food taste better. I'd never had that experience before, but it was enough to make me want to learn more about wine, so that I could intentionally pick good wine/food combinations in the future. I'm so glad this was the first book on the subject that I ordered. Beside being a fun read, the author does a wonderful job of educating the reader, without seeming pretentious or preachy. Although she begins with the assumption that you know nothing, I can't imagine even an already knowledgable wine enthusiast not learning something from this - it's packed with good information. At the end of each discussion section, she includes a 'how to have a wine test' guide, beginning with comparisons of the six most common wine styles, and progressing to tastings on wine characteristics (oaky verses steel barrel, etc) and wines from lesser known grapes. Also included are basic hints for choosing wines, predicting a wine's flavor, and pairing wine with food.

Not only would I buy this book again, I've recommended it to several friends - in my opinion, it's a can't-miss-purchase on the subject.
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on October 9, 2002
Andrea has a real gift for explaining a somewhat complicated topic in an easy to understand manner. I purchased a highly recommended book on wine before this one, and ended up more confused than enlightened. Andrea's book is very well written, and explains the world of wine in simple terms that anyone could understand. Her enthusiasm and love for wine shines through, and her writing style is down-to-earth and fun. It seems she is writing to a good friend. Her tasting exercises are excellent, and easy to perform. She gives specific recommendations in a variety of price ranges, so people on any budget can still learn about wine and develop an appreciation of the various grapes and flavors. She even covers how to go about choosing a wine on one of those huge restaurant wine lists, and such basics as wine glasses, storage, and the difference in the various corkscrews available. The part I appreciated most was the pronunciation guide for the large array of vocabulary associated with wine. This was a big help. My only suggestion for improvement would be to have these words together in a glossary in the back of the book, in addition to the book content.
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