Monday, December 5, 2011

Good Better Best Wines Book Review

When it comes to wine, your "wants" are pretty simple: a good wine, at a price you can afford, that's stocked at your local wine shop or supermarket. Good Better Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines (New York, NY: Alpha Books, 2010, $12.95) gives you just that. It reveals in plain English, the good, better, and best wines available for the dollars you're willing to spend--up to $15--along with photos of clearly labeled bottles to make wine shopping easier.

Inside you’ll find:
  • The good, better, and best big-name wines under $5, $8, $11, and $15 for each major grape variety
  • Perfect party wines for specific occasions—weddings, dinners, backyard barbecues, and more
  • Trade secrets for getting the most out of each wine, including storage, serving techniques, and food pairings.

About the author: Carolyn Evans Hammond is an accomplished wine writer whose articles have appeared in such eminent magazines as Decanter and Wine & Spirit International in the United Kingdom, as well as Maclean’s, Taste, and Tidings in Canada. Her first book, 1000 Best Wine Secrets, earned critical acclaim and international distribution. She also issues a newsletter, runs a wine club,conducts seminars, and publishes a blog on her website— She holds the Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and a BA from York University.

Nicely sized reference book, well-illustrated with the wine labels, what's not to like? And it is a great book, except it shares the same inherent flaw that all books ranking wine share. While one might take a single producer, say Mondavi, and compare three Chardonnays from their line, it’s more difficult when you cross producers and even more so when differing grapes or blends are evaluated. Here’s an example:
  • Good: Lindemans Cawarra Semillon Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia – sumptuous orange, bright lemon, and aromatic melon
  • Better: Folonari Soave DOC, Veneto, Italy – reminiscent of lime and cool, wet stones
  • Best: Riunite Bianco, Italy – honeyed apricot and chin-drip peaches
Honestly, they all three sound pretty good to me, but how is a sweet wine comparable to a lemony one or to one reminiscent of cool, wet stones? They are not and therein lies the problem. Of course most of the wines are evaluated by varietal, so it’s less extreme than my example.

This is a great resource to have if you are looking for a quick suggestion on what less expensive wine to serve for your dinner party or for which box wines to search out, but the suggestions must be taken with a grain of salt. However, this is a well-written book that can be referenced and utilized in many ways - assists in choosing a wine, lots of tips and trivia, and she names the varietals in some of the blends, helpful if you're shooting for membership in the Wine Century Club, like me. Even if you’re not a fan of less expensive, big brand wines, it’s a worthwhile book for the writing alone.


Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Alpha Books via Wilks PR. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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1 comment:

  1. I think you just gave me a great Christmas present idea for Mr. Z.

    It's funny--every year at the chocolate party my friends and I have, we also have everyone bring a bottle of wine in a paper bag. We number them and everyone writes down their favorites. It has happened more than once that the Red Truck or some other such label was the most popular!