Oz Clarke's Introducing Wine: A Complete Guide for the Modern Wine Drinker

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9780151006427: Oz Clarke's Introducing Wine: A Complete Guide for the Modern Wine Drinker

Unlike other wine books, Oz Clarke's Introducing Wine starts off with a guide to choosing the taste of the wine you want. In describing the flavors offered by wine in all its variety, Clarke provides a summation of the varieties and shadings of taste that are available, and then directs you to the grapes, regions, and producers that will give you what you want. Everything flows, so to speak, from taste.
Comprehensive in its summation of everything you'll need to know about tasting, serving, and storing wine, Introducing Wine ends with a guided tour of the shelves of a wine shop. Here you'll learn how to find the taste you are looking for in the most practical and useful way. Vividly illustrated throughout, Introducing Wine is an indispensable companion for beginners as well as anyone who wants to brush up on the world of wine. Direct, unpretentious, and easy to consult, Introducing Wine is the best basic primer on the market, from a supremely knowledgeable and engaging writer.

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Review:

Perhaps if Oz Clarke had his way, Baskin-Robbins would manufacture 15 flavors. Not that "vanilla" even comes close to describing the style of the prolific London Daily Telegraph wine correspondent, James Beard and Julia Child Awards winner, and author of the perennially updated Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Guide. Any wine writer who routinely refers to champagne as "fizz" and value-priced bottles as "gluggers" is a wine novice's friend, right?

Welcome to Introducing Wine, Clarke's contribution to the overcrowded wine primer field. Subtitled "A Complete Guide for the Modern Wine Drinker," this 3-chapter, 144-page glossy tome liberally sprinkled with color photos is designed for the reader looking beyond a wine shop's old reliables. Part I deals with wine flavors: Oz's aforementioned 15, ranging from "juicy, fruity" to "ripe and toasty." Part II takes on wine enjoyment--buying, storing, opening, serving--while Part III serves as a grapey gazetteer of the world's wine regions.

It's a delicate job Introducing Wine in such confined space, but Oz is a good host: witty, learned, and only occasionally schmoozily vague. A "buying" discussion flits about, touching on e-tailing, futures, and mixed-case discounts for half a page; other paragraphs sparkle with wine descriptors both enchanting ("face cream" and "beeswax") and confounding ("damsons" and "lanolin"). Clarke's capable of both enlightenment (warnings include such terms as "reserve" or "superieur") and overkill: if your retailer sells more Lucky Strikes than Lynch-Bages, you needn't Oz to tell you it's a "bad wine shop." Copious opinions, too, can raise eyebrows or shrug shoulders: Pinot Gris "always" exhibits a hint of honey? Zinfandel is California's "all-purpose" grape? Easier to swallow is Oz's assertion that French vin de table can be "pretty much anything that won't kill you." Helpful in Part III are the Quick Guide sidebars explaining regional jargon and suggesting wines, although recommendations from California and the Pacific Northwest are uninspired--a rare Introducing Wine instance where plain vanilla mixes into Oz Clarke's jamocha almond crunch. --Tony Mason

About the Author:

Oz Clarke, one of the world's leading wine experts, is a featured advisor to winetoday.com, the New York Times wine Web site, and he has won all the major wine writing awards. He lives in West London. Margaret Rand is an award-winning wine writer and a former editor of Wine magazine, Wine & Spirit International and Whisky magazine. She contributes to a wide range of wine publications and Internet sites and has been general editor, then wine editor of Oz Clarke's Wine Buying Guide for the last 11 editions. Margaret has also worked as an editor on several other Oz Clarke titles.

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