Friday, October 31, 2008

Today on Serious Grape: Why Read About Wine You'll Never Drink?

If you are often frustrated reading wine magazines, wine books, and wine reviews that focus on wines you can't find in your local store, you may wonder why I am addicted to Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine: Fifty Years of Tasting Three Centuries of Wines. This book collects his tasting notes for the oldest, rarest, and most coveted wines in the world.

Today on Serious Grape, my weekly column on Serious Eats, I explain why I love reading about wine I'll never, ever be able to drink, like the 1811 Chateau Yquem from the "comet vintage." For me its a vicarious pleasure akin to reading People magazine or Vogue, and it combines two of my favorite other pleasures: history and mystery.

If you don't know Michael Broadbent's book, it's an awe-inspiring trip through some of the oldest and most expensive cellars on the planet. And because there's no conceivable way most of us will ever be able to buy any of the wines he tastes here, there's none of that frustration--just pure enjoyment. If this sounds like something you might find fun, or you are looking for a gift for a wine lover, check out today's post.

7 comments:

patrick said...

I totally agree with you on this one, Deb. I love to read other people's impressions about wine, whether of not I will every try it. This of course is directly connected to hoe author/critic's writing and how much much they stimulate my imagination. I love to read the New Yorker and its reviews of NY stage and galleries, even though I know I'll never get to them. A great pleasure is to read the New York Review of Books when I know I'll never have time to read the actual books that are written about. What about all the great recipes - with their sexy pictures - in cooking mags that I'll never cook. Armchair Travel, even of the palate, is very satisfying indeed!

Fredric Koeppel said...

I got the first edition of this, when it was called "The Great Vintage Wine Book," in the early 1980s, published by Alfred A. Knopf. And I was hooked. I loved reading those brief sagacious reflections (Broadbent would not have used the word "review") of great legendary wine... and some that were not so great. His evaluation of Mouton-Rothschild 1929 will always haunt me, though I think the book has undergone some editing for this third edition. Thanks for mentioning this, Doc.

cheeseblab said...

The mention of Broadbent reminds me of his star turn in Mondovino (yes, it's always about movies with me). I assume you've seen that thought-provoking and just plain provoking film, but if not, do.

Justin Roberts said...

The little gossipy little anecdotes are the best part of this book...

Nancy said...

And it's a lot like reading cookbooks. You absorb some useful techniques and knowledge, while taking pleasure in reading recipes you will never make. The classic of this kind, to me, is the Joy of Cooking, in my opinion the most overrated cookbook ever. I especially liked reading its recipes for galantine of turkey, turtle soup, and authentic clambakes. From the whole book I may have actually ever used and enjoyed one recipe.

Chicago Pinot said...

Hi Debs! Loved your post. Yes, I still am attracted to read about wine I could never find, and probably never will be able to afford even if I could find it. This is partially why I refer to most of the (offline) wine media as Wine Porn. It's really a term of endearment. And think about it, Wine Porn, if done well, will produce the same desires/reactions as People Porn, don't you think?

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks to everybody for the comments. Glad to know that I'm not the only one who likes this vicarious pleasure. And Cheeseblab--I've never seen Mondovino. Oh, the shame. But I promise it's on my list for the holidays. And Justin--I love the gossip. My favorite: when Earl Spencer was bidding on his own wine for sale and Broadbent had to gently tell him he was bidding against himself. The wine? The Dom Perignon Wedding Cuvee disgorged for the ill-fated royal wedding.