Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Giveaway: From One Expert to Another


Wine writer Jancis Robinson is known for big books, such as the 912-page Oxford Companion to Wine (currently in its fourth, much-revised edition) and the 1280-page Wine Grapes (which won every major wine book award in the year of its publication). Perhaps that’s one reason her newest title, which just came out in the US, is so compelling: how much of her 40 years of wine experience could she possibly cram into just 111 pages, between two tiny 5” x 7” covers?

As you might have expected...quite a lot.

To celebrate the publication of this new hardcover version (the first was a paperback published in the UK in February), Jancis’ New York publisher Abrams, has given me five copies of The 24-Hour Wine Expert to give away. With corkscrews! Yep, to enter simply leave a comment below. Five lucky readers will get a copy of the book and a corkscrew to match.

Jancis is one of the most-respected, most-prolific wine writers working today. And boy, does she work. Based in London, she travels roughly one third of the year:  tasting, rating and writing for a multitude of publications including her website JancisRobinson.com, which is updated daily and has subscribers in more than 100 countries. Jancis writes a weekly column for the Financial Times while Decanter called her “the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world.” She even provides advice to the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II. (I love the idea of the Queen ringing up...Jan? Sorry to be a bother, but the King of Spain is on his way and I have no idea what to pour!)

When I caught up with her last week, Jancis was up in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where she told me she had just finished tasting some 175 vintages.

“This week?” I asked.

“Today,” she replied.

To learn more about her background and accomplishments, read her shortish Wikipedia bio here or the full, amazing one here...but be forewarned: whatever you’ve done with your life, you’ll feel like a total slacker if you do!

This new book, Jancis says, is for people who like wine but don’t feel quite sure of themselves in a wine shop buying for a dinner party...or in a restaurant, wine list in hand. “It’s for people who want a shortcut to the essentials,” she says. 

And so, after taking us quickly but comprehensively through the wine regions of the world and their grapes, she sets out to painlessly help us make the most of what she calls “the most delicious, stimulating, varied and infuriatingly complicated drink in the world.”

Topics include how to select the right bottle at retail; understanding the properties of color and aroma; what the different shapes of bottles and their labels tell you; what terms like “full body,” “supple,” “round” and “nose” really mean; what wines pair well with foods such as pizza, sushi or Thai; what the terms organic, biodynamic and natural mean in the wine world; how to chill and warm wines; and much more.

And what about that perennial question about how price correlates to quality? As in, how much do we really need to spend to get a good bottle?

“There is no direct correlation between price and quality in wine,” she writes, before giving us a handy list of underpriced, overpriced and splurge-worthy labels. “Many wines are overpriced because of inflated market demand, ambition, greed, or just because a marketing person sees the need for an ‘icon wine’ in the range. The difference in quality between wines at the top and bottom ends of the price scale is narrower than it has ever been, while the difference in price has never been greater.

“Packaging, shopping, marketing, and, in many countries, local taxes and duties tend to account for by far the majority of the price of very cheap wines,” Jancis continues, “with the cost of the liquid itself representing a tiny fraction of what you are paying. Ambition is responsible for much of the selling price of more expensive wines. For this reason, the best value is generally in the range of $10 to $30 a bottle. Here, you more or less get what you pay for.”

Sound good? Then leave a comment below (click where it says comments) for your chance to win a copy...and a corkscrew! If you have a wine anecdote to share, even better! And please be sure to include your email address or we can’t reach you if you win...best is to put it right in the body of your comment text. 

If you want to buy the book, it’s in all the major retailers or order it on Amazon here.


32 comments:

  1. This is a great giveaway, I'm one of the many - I'm sure, that loves wine, but is really clueless about it. I have a few types I like and from there its a guessing game and half the time the label is the deciding factor. In know--eye roll! LOL Needless it sounds like I could use the book!
    gd2brivard@gmail.com
    Brenda

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  2. Bonjour, This is fantastic and thank you for passing it along to us. I am a bit of a South of France (Languedoc especially) wine snob, so this would be a great way to educate myself about all the choices we have now. Merci, Julie!

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  3. Wish I had this book 12 years ago when we started our catering company. My fave wine story is about a University of Chicago professor who fancies himself quite the wine connoisseur. He insisted for a dinner held for an important donor that we obtain Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and a very specific vintage. When we consulted the wine expert at the local liquor store, he said that vintage was impossible to find, but he got one close. He then told us that a much less expensive wine was actually much better, and that he only had 2 cases left. So, we decided to buy 6 bottles for ourselves. We then gave a bottle to the client as a gift, and were able to taste the expensive wine. For my palate, the wine expert was right...the much less expensive wine I thought was far superior. But our client didn't agree. I wonder how much price influenced his palate.

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  4. Too many of my friends are enamored with price. Here in NH, Walmart sells a bottle of Oak Leaf Vineyards for $3.27. One of my friends was invited to my house to blind taste 5 different rosé wines to help me select which one I would serve at an upcoming party. Before the tasting she admonished me, hoping I had not put that "Cheap Walmart stuff" in the mix. I assured her all of the wines were top quality.
    When, after a ½ hour of testing she had decided top down which were the best and worst quality wines, the Walmart Oak Leaf won hands down!
    She was so embarrassed and vowed never to look at price again when deciding on a wine to buy.
    BTW, Oak Leaf Vineyards is a Gallo product, unarguably the largest wine company in the world!

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  5. Earlier this year I invited a friend to blind taste five rosé wines that I was considering serving at an outdoor summer party.
    Before the test, she admonished me that I had better not have the cheap Walmart Oak Leaf Vineyard wine that sells for $3.27/bottle. I assure her it was not in there.
    After a ½ hour of taste testing, she had all the wines from top to bottom all classed. I unwrapped the losing bottles one-by-one from 'worst' to 'best'.
    To her utter disbelief, she had classed the Oak Leaf Rosé as #1 best wine of the bunch.
    I've explained to her before that expensive wines are not necessarily better and that everybody's taste in wine is different.
    Who'd a thunk it?

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  6. 175 tastings in a DAY??? My mouth would be in a coma! I know what I like, experiment a little and am a bit of a snob when it comes to certain wines. Visiting from Tara Dillard's blog and enjoying the visit.

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  7. Love Jancis Robinson's column in the Financial Times. She is an excellent writer, and she really knows her stuff...small wonder if she tastes 175 Chateauneufs in one day! Would love to read her new book, and a person can always use a new corkscrew....

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  8. A book I wish I had written for all of the entertaining insight into the appreciation of wine. Well done!

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  9. Would be honored to receive a copy of this book. Will you be signing them?

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  10. Would love to read this book!

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  11. This would be so great!! I'm right in the beginning of my wine lover journey and I cannot get enough information! This would be so amazing I don't even have words for it right now!

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  12. I was lucky enough to hear Jancis speak on a panel at the Boulder Burgundy Festival along with Etienne de Montille called "To stem or not to stem" (and to sample 8 of Etienne's vintages) She was funny and down to earth and so knowledgeable. Towards the end of the panel we were sampling a 2006 Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru and her assessment of that particular wine was "That one I swallowed" it got a great laugh from everyone.

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  13. I love Jancis and the way she talks and writes about wine. She is not a wine snob, just very knowledgeable. Would love to read her new book!

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  14. When I first started drinking (a looong time ago) the only alcohol I could buy was wine. So after all those years and my impulsive move to Paris to live for a year turned into 10 and I created the museofparis@gmail.com. Then just 2 weeks ago I married my French boyfriend /wine lover so we will continue our tastings happily ever after! We'd love to have the book & cork screw - such inspiration to discover more wine!

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  15. Joanna Pawulska SaundersOctober 24, 2016 at 11:31 PM

    As a wine translator, I work for producers whose aim is to make good, high quality wine accessible to all, both in terms of price and availability. The more I learn, the more I realise there is to know; this book would be a fabulous piece of continuing professional development - along with a good dollop of self-interest as I make my own wine appreciation journey.

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  16. This would be the perfect Christmas gift for my husband! And who can't use an extra cork screw?!

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  17. It is very nice of you to share Jancis's books with your readers in the giveaway. Thank you! cahillldot@aol.com



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  18. This sounds like the perfect book for us wine lovers who would like this world demytified! jlg912@sbcglobal.net

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  19. Would LOVE this book...would be great addition to our knowledge from Celine...and thanks again for arranging an amazing tour!!!

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  20. I definitely need this book as I like wine very much and would love to know more about what I'm drinking.

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  21. As a long-time fan of Jancis Robinson, dating back to an excellent series shown on PBS years ago, I would dearly love to have this latest book, one which will enhance my wine knowledge and appreciation. sendmeyer@sbglobal.net

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  22. I can't wait ... went and ordered it! Thanks for the heads-up on this and for offering a great giveaway!

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  23. Would love to win so that I can give this to my husband for Christmas. We both love wine and on our very first trip to Provence in 1999 we packed 20 bottles of wine in our carryon luggage.We did declare it expecting a big fee but the custom agent let us go with no charge. Now of course, 3 bottles are all we try to bring home and then search on line to find some of them here in the States. Nothing like French wine!

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  24. Always in a need to learn a bit more about wines. Tasting is good but better when you know the stories behind it!

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  25. Interesting enough, even in Germany british and US-wineexperts are better known than writers who had their baby-soother dipped into Riesling. So I am happy to learn more from Jancis! Greetings from Berlin :-)

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  26. Jancis is my wine guru! I love learning from her. Kasey.v.clark@gmail.com

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