Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Wine Book Club Wrap Up: Notes on a Cellar Book

We had four participants in this month's wine book club--the first of 2009--and one review that was written by a wine blogger a few years ago but I'm including it anyway because it's a great review!

Except for me, people weren't all that enthusiastic about the book. I was wildly enthusiastic--but then again, I picked the book.

Here are what wine bloggers thought of George Saintsbury's Notes on a Cellar Book.

Jim Eastman from Music & Wine
found there were language barriers standing between him and Saintsbury, but more importantly "I just didn't find his anecdotes terribly entertaining." Eastman preferred the chapters devoted to spirits, especially whiskies.

Kori at the WinePeeps
wrote a review that was very much in line with Jim Eastman's. Like Jim, Kori found the language inaccessible and had to "keep a dictionary at my side" to clarify some of his terms. She recommends this book to "an academic or a history buff" (guilty!) She enjoyed the book but she does "wonder if it fits the palate of most of our readers."

Frank from Drink What You Like was struck by the picture on the cover and its resemblance to Dumbledore. He, too, found it "tough to read" and he found it "difficult to stay engaged." Though he praises the historical information found within, he doesn't recommend the book as a "general learning tool" for those starting out on wine.

Edward the Wino Sapien
found "the freshness and directness of the words and familiarity of the names potentially disconcerting," and found that despite its age "many of the words and ideas still hold true."

I missed one. Sorry!
RJH from RJ's Wine Blog
didn't like the book AT ALL. She was taken back to English Lit classes--and not in a good way. "Don't buy or read this one. Too heavy, allusive and not all that interesting," RJ said in conclusion.

I think these reviews will be quite helpful for people who are thinking about this book and wondering whether they will like it or not. If you're a history buff (or as I suggested a Masterpiece Theater buff) you will probably like this book. If not, then you might want to think twice.

Next month's book also has a historical bent, but it covers a bubbly topic, so hopeful it will be a bit easier to get through. I'll have full details and explain why I picked the title next Thursday.

Thanks to all the participants for their honest, well-written reviews. And I hope that more wine bloggers and readers jump on the bandwagon next month.


Amy Atwood said...

ok. You have me on the hook since I am a book addict. Now I will have to read Notes on a Cellar Book myself!
I am reading Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis right now (well, its part of the bedside stack).
Look forward to seeing what book you choose for Feb.

RJ's Wine Blog said...

i posted this on a comment from the original book club announcement, so not sure if it's too late, but here it is again. i'm already on next month's book and looking forward to continuing this.


Dr. Debs said...

Sorry, RJ! for some reason I missed it. You're in there now. Thanks for letting me know.

Edward said...

Dr Debs,

Thanks for including me, even though my participation was not strictly by the book! I've just randomly opened the text (he's talking about the greatness of the 74's and 75's), and find it totally accessible and easy to comprehend. I wonder how many modern day books will stand the test of time as well. . .

RJ's Wine Blog said...

no worries - thanks for updating.