Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Special: Wine Politics Roundup

Today we have an Election Day Special: a roundup of all the reviews of Tyler Colman's book Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink.

Our reviews mark the 5th edition of the Wine Book Club, and the last meeting for 2008--because no one is going to post a review between Christmas and New Year's Eve, are they? So it's all the more fitting that we mark the end of 2008 and the end of the Bush administration with a book dedicated to helping us understand the complicated political journey that wine takes from grape to glass.

We had some Wine Book Club veterans and some first-timers, too. So here is a roundup of some of their thoughts.

First time Wine Book Club participant Jim Eastman from the blog Music and Wine praised Colman's accessible style, noting that "it managed to keep me engaged without fail through the whole book. Eastman's main criticism of the book was he felt it was a little too short to cover such a broad-ranging topic in so few pages. Jim wanted more--"A little extra depth and perspective" was the way he put it--which I can tell you from personal experience is the kind of criticism an author can live with. When a reader wants more, that's a good thing.

Another first time WBC participant, Frank Morgan from the blog Drink What YOU Like, described the book as "academic and thorough." Frank found the Colman's coverage of the topic "fascinating," and while he did sometimes get "lost in the details a couple of times," the book changed the way he "looked at a glass of wine." My favorite line in Frank's review was saved for the end: "My major takeaway from Wine Politics is an increased sense of appreciation for the small wine guy and the crap they go through just to produce and sell wine to me!"

Christianne from the blog Christianne Uncorked (also a first time WBC participant) found the book was "PACKED with information about wine, history, and politics," but she sometimes found that the organization left her feeling a bit "distracted." She particularly would have liked more of Colman's informal writing and less of the formal academic style.

Taste B from Smells Like Grape added her two cents on the book, saying that it was a "breath of fresh air" given the other books she's reading for an academic course at the moment. What she most enjoyed about the book was that is wasn't just a rehash of things she already knew about wine. Instead, Colman "weaves together many observable and oft discussed conditions in the wine industry with little-known catalysts to form some pretty stark revelations."

Wine Book Club veteran Kori from the Wine Peeps made it clear that this was not the book for you if you were looking for "basic wine information or for a recommendation on what bottle of wine to drink tonight." However, "a lot of information is packed into this relatively short 148-page read," and Kori found the message thought provoking. "If you really want to know why you can’t buy a bottle of wine you fell in love with on a recent trip to California and have it shipped to your home," Kori recommends you pick up this book and learn why.

Richard the Passionate Foodie, another WBC veteran, recommends this well-written book to "those who are more passionate about wine, who enjoy learning about more than grape varieties and wine regions." While it may not appeal to the novice, Richard feels that wine lovers will appreciateColman's "measured and neutral stance" on his more controversial topics, where he presents arguments for both sides of troubling questions.

Thanks to Tyler Colman, our own Dr. Vino, for writing this excellent book which really did convince me that any drinkable wine produced in this country is a miracle, given the laws that stand in the way of winemakers and consumers. And thanks to all the participants this month.

The next edition of the book club will be announced in early December, and reviews will be due in late January--so stay tuned for another year of the Wine Book Club.


Jimmy the Horn said...

Technically second-time participant, but I haven't been involved since the first WBC, so I guess I get demoted for blog slackitude. ;-)

Taster B said...

Thanks for the great election day round up! I voted!

Dr. Debs said...

Jim, actually you got promoted to the top of the list! Sorry for the oversight. Something about your post made me think this was your first time.

Jimmy the Horn said...

No worries, and I do appreciate being at the top of the list. :-)