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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Read about wine? Why not? As Frank Prial says, "You don't have to be a baseball fanatic to read a story about a great player or a particularly exciting game. You should not have to be a budding enologist to enjoy reading about wine."
In the 25 years that Frank Prial has been writing a wine column for The New York Times, thousands of readers have enjoyed his work, delivered in weekly bites. With this collection of columns, most fairly recent, you can have a more satisfying experience because the collection adds up to a wider, deeper look at the world of wine.
Since the inception of Prial's column, wine has gone from a journalistic afterthought to a legitimate news beat. California wines have beat out the French many times since the famous 1976 blind tasting in Paris, and America has come of age as a wine-drinking country (although nowhere near the levels of France, Italy, or even Argentina). You see the change in the landscape through Prial's profiles of notable wine drinkers like A. J. Liebling, wine critics like Robert Parker, wine families like the Benzigers (Glen Ellen Winery) and the Antinoris of Tuscany, and the new breed of wine makers like Jess Jackson (Kendall-Jackson). Prial takes us to upcoming wine areas (parts of Spain, Switzerland, Argentina, Austria), drinks with the Rothschilds in France, and stalks Zinfandel in Africa. He even covers the fine points of wine etiquette -- how to send back a bottle, how to read a wine list, and how an ideal wine list should read.
Prial has a nice sense of humor, especially when it comes to wine snobbery. His short course in wine tactics will enable you to cover your ignorance in snooty company with phrases like these:
- "It dies on the middle palate." (Sounds authoritative, even if untrue.)
- "It has a real bramble taste; yes sir, a real bramble taste." (Use only if the wine is red.)
- "This wine is pleasant enough but I find it a bit short." (Use when the taste of the wine doesn't linger long.)
- "What's the alcohol in this stuff?" ("Merely posing the question will evoke some response from your host," says Prial. "All you need to do is nod knowingly." )