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Decantations: Reflections on Wine by the New York Times Wine Critic

Overview

Frank J. Prial has written authoritative and entertaining wine articles for The New York Times for over 25 years. His pieces have delighted wine lovers of all ages with celebrations of old favorites and forays into new tastings from around the world. In Decantations, Prial's first book since Wine Talk was published in 1978, the wine master's finest columns are gathered on everything from imbibing with the Rothschilds in France to stalking ...

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Overview

Frank J. Prial has written authoritative and entertaining wine articles for The New York Times for over 25 years. His pieces have delighted wine lovers of all ages with celebrations of old favorites and forays into new tastings from around the world. In Decantations, Prial's first book since Wine Talk was published in 1978, the wine master's finest columns are gathered on everything from imbibing with the Rothschilds in France to stalking Zinfandels and Chardonnays in Africa.

This robust collection of articles, organized by topic, include informative, humorous, and sometimes unorthodox observations on wine making, wine families, wine personalities and the wine business, as well as tips on ordering, tasting, and enjoying wine. An essential book for lovers of wine and lovers of lovers of wine.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 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." )
(Ginger Curwen)
Kirkus Reviews
Unlike Rod Phillips (see above), New York Times wine critic Prial can be both stiff and fawning, but he brings to his reporting two invaluable qualities: he's been on the beat for 30 years, and he keeps an eye skinned for the beat less beaten. For his first book since "Wine Talk" (1978), Prial gathers pieces that he's contributed to his "Wine Talk" column over the last 20 years. Status-conscious to a fault and given to a degree of toadyism-"urbane doyen," "golden Lexus," and "a double magnum for $8,000" fall from his lips like crumbs from dry toast-he can also be lazy, as when he builds an entire article out of pull-quotes from A. J. Liebling's Between Meals. Fortunately, however, he has much of interest to say about the culture of wine (he doesn't waste much time with tasting notes), informative and fascinating things that allow wine's bigger picture to take shape. There is a terrific column on the Irish immigrants to France, the "Wild Geese" who lent their names to Lynch-Bages and Leoville-Barton. There is time well-spent with small producers, including an extended article on the "garagistes" of France and cult wines and custom-crush operations of California, and three good columns on Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon, who is always happy to administer some much-needed oxygen to the rarified world of making wine. Prial is good at the odd angle-how "alternative wood products" are used to put the oak in Chardonnay, or how the Scots make wine out of silver birch-and his moments of humor come like fat drops of rain after a Sonoma summer: One January ("the time of year when even normally prudent people lose all sense of caution"), he makes a prediction that "Four more bottles of winebearing Thomas Jefferson's initials will mysteriously turn up at a wine auction in Zurich." Like a good newspaperman, Prial deploys his nose for the story before taking in the bouquet.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641659638
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/17/2001
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank J. Prial has written for The New York Times as a reporter, foreign correspondent and wine columnist for 30 years.

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