Oz Clarke has been writing about wine and educating drinkers for decades. Now, he’s written what is probably his most approachable book, Let Me Tell You About Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Wine. In this fine book, nicely laid out and illustrated with photos, maps and lots of helpful tips, Clarke addresses three main topics: “The Flavors of Wine,” “Enjoying Wine” and “The World of Wine.”
In the section “The Flavors of Wine,” Clarke does a nice job of explaining what we taste and smell in wine and the differences between various wine types and grape varietals. There’s a nifty chart briefly dealing with each style of wine—from juicy, fruity reds and gutsy rosés to ripe, toasty whites and tangy, fortified wines. “Enjoying Wine” deals with how to taste, serve and store wines, how to order in a restaurant, food and wine matching, wine and health, and more. In part three, “The World of Wine,” he discusses some of the world’s most significant wine regions and their wines. Happily, Clarke manages to do all this in a very accessible, straightforward but entertaining manner. This isn’t just a great book for wine rookies but also a nice refresher for those who’ve had experience with vino.
To me, the best book of this bunch is Matt Kramer on Wine. It’s a collection of columns, essays and observations from the man the publisher calls “America’s most original and lucid wine writer.” It says so right on the cover—and I can’t argue with that description. One of the first, and still best, wine books I ever read was Kramer’s Making Sense of Italian Wine.
In “How do They Live with Themselves?” Matt Kramer bites the hands that feed him as he questions an industry—the wine industry—that knowingly sells defective products in the form of corked wines. “Every winery that uses corks knows full well that somewhere between 3 percent and 5 percent of everything they send out the door is defective,” Kramer writes, and poses the question: “If you knew that 3 percent to 5 percent of everything you sell is defective—could you look at yourself in the mirror and whistle a happy tune?” It’s great stuff, from one of the best wine thinkers around.%uFFFD