Thursday, January 01, 2009

The 2009 Wine Book Club

There are some changes in store for the 2009 Wine Book Club.

We started out on a promising note last year, but by year's end participation had dwindled to a few die-hards, and even I was having a hard time keeping the calendar straight.

So, this year I will announce a new title for the WBC on the first Thursday of every month, and explain why I think it's a great book. If you want to read the book and post a review on your blog, you can do it whenever you feel like that month. Send me a note with the URL and I'll post a roundup on the last Thursday of every month.

There won't be guest hosts, or "spin the bottle" reviews. I hope, instead, that the flexibility will encourage more people to participate. And, I hope that doing it monthly (instead of every other month) will keep the WBC on more people's to-do lists.

The January 2009 Wine Book Club Book Selection is George Saintsbury's Notes on a Cellar-Book. (University of California Press, $29.95; available through for $23.96)

January is a natural time for reflection about the past and thinking about the future, and Saintsbury's classic work of literature will encourage all of us to consider how wine culture has changed--and how it has remained the same--since the book was first published in 1920. For those of us who not only love wine, but also write about it, Saintsbury's prose will be inspiring. He is a beautiful writer, capable of evoking a world of pleasures and sensations in a single, powerful sentence. He's also a thoughtful writer, and shares his struggles to convey something as mysterious and personal as your taste of a wine with a reader.

I'll be eager to read about your experiences with the book. Did you like the history, or did you find reading about how one man drank wine nearly a hundred years ago too remote? If you write your own tasting notes--either for personal use or for publication--do you think that you will write them differently, now that you have read Saintsbury? What will you remember about this book, long after you put it back on your shelf? A particular wine? A particular place that Saintsbury enjoyed a tipple?

For those of you who are planners, here is the schedule for the next three months of the WBC. I've used many of the suggestions I received last year, and will continue to plan three months out. That way, we can add newly released books when people are eager to read them, rather than putting them at the end of a long, long queue. If you have additional suggestions--whether new releases or classic titles--please leave them in the comments. We will get to them, I promise.

February: Don Kladstrup, Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times

March: Kermit Lynch, Adventures on the Wine Route

April: Jamie Goode, The Science of Wine

Please send me URL links to your reviews of Saintsbury's book by Wednesday, January 28 so that I can (if necessary) write a round-up post on January 29.


Edward said...

Dr Debs,

Happy New year!

Can I submit a review I did some time ago. . . The link is here.

Joe Roberts said...

Cool format. I will try to get my butt in gear for one of the first few months of these...

RJ's Wine Blog said...

I'm in. I just ordered the book on Amazon and got a few wine books for Christmas, so looks like January is going to be a busy month.

Anonymous said...

Yes! This is great!

David said...

sounds like a fun group. Maybe I'll jump into one of these (I've been wanting to read that Lynch book so maybe I'll chime in on that). Currently juggling a few books including the House of Mondavi, which reads like a Grisham novel!

Debra Morgan said...

The gods are smiling---I've read some of these--homework will be easy.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. I've been wanting to read more. Hopefully, this will get me motivated!

RJ's Wine Blog said...

I just finished my post on notes on a cellar-book. you can find them at

tough one to get through, but looking forward to the upcoming titles.


RJ's Wine Blog said...

also, i just finished a book all "the grail: a year ambling and shambling through an oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wine world." published in 2006, so you may have already read it, but i thought it was a pretty entertaining book about winemaking. my post on it won't publish until later this evening, but you can check it out then if you want more info. just thought it might be a nice addition to the book club.