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Publishers WeeklyThough it's hampered by a backwards-looking design, oenophiles and armchair sommeliers will find a lot to like in this guide to understanding wine. Beginning at the beginning, academic and foodie neirynck looks at the full range of winemaking techniques, from china in the seventh century bc to contemporary italy (and the latest super tuscans). He covers his subject literally from the ground up, from crucial terroir and common grape vine diseases to production, collecting and storing. Like a good bottle, the book's full impact isn't felt until it "opens up" with a discussion of various types of grapes-not just their flavors, but their origins, preferred soils and climatic conditions. Coupled with salient tips on reading labels, the peculiarities of serving young versus old wine, and other minutiae, this should educate wine lovers but may be too much too soon for novices (neirynck's rules for proper wine service are only slightly less relaxed than a japanese tea ceremony). Though neirynck avoids ratings and reviews ala wine spectator or robert parker, he arms readers with enough information to make their own decisions. It's a shame, then, that the book's dated layout-melodramatic fonts, awkward size, amateurish illustrations-give the impression that this volume was transported unaltered from the 1970s.
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