Windows on the World Complete Wine Course


Windows on the World Complete Wine Course is simply the bestselling wine book in North America—it’s a classic. The 2007 edition alone has sold over 100,000 copies and reorders continue to pour in. Along with the expanded text that has made last year’s update so successful, the 2008 revision will include a special 16-page supplement on “How to Taste Wine,” taken directly from Kevin’s world-famous class. This new material will include more than 100 wines that Zraly selects for his students to taste, along with the ...
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Windows on the World Complete Wine Course is simply the bestselling wine book in North America—it’s a classic. The 2007 edition alone has sold over 100,000 copies and reorders continue to pour in. Along with the expanded text that has made last year’s update so successful, the 2008 revision will include a special 16-page supplement on “How to Taste Wine,” taken directly from Kevin’s world-famous class. This new material will include more than 100 wines that Zraly selects for his students to taste, along with the tasting sheet they use for their evaluations. Organized by region, from simple to complex, his list begins with white wines from France, the U.S., and Germany; moves on to the red wines of Burgundy and the Rhône, Bordeaux, the U.S., Italy, Australia, Argentina, and Chile; and concludes with champagnes and ports. By following Kevin’s order, readers will experience the best wines and the wide diversity of taste, style, region, and country. It’s not only a comprehensive and bargain-priced hands-on wine education, but a superb catalog from which to start a wine cellar or find a bottle appropriate to any occasion. In addition, the label for each of the 101 wines is shown, along with commentary on how to read it, suggestions for alternative wines, and specific instructions on how to set up a tasting using Kevin’s techniques. This is the first time Kevin’s actual list has ever been offered in book form and it alone is worth the cover price of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.
Of course, as always, this unequaled volume retains all the invaluable information, fabulous illustrations, and gorgeousstyling of the previous editions—all presented in Zraly’s inimitable, irreverent style. This is the wine guide against which all others are judged.

An entertaining and comprehensive wine guide which explains the many varieties and demonstrates how to judge them, from the wine director of New York's world-famous Windows on the World restaurant.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Kevin Zraly is the creator of one of the most famous wine lists in existence: that of the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center in New York City. He is also the founder and instructor of the acclaimed Windows on the World Wine School. In his highly readable book—for years recommended by wine writers, producers, and sommeliers as the best, least intimidating book for anyone interested in learning more about wine—Zraly takes the reader on a tour of the great wine-producing regions of the world.

Incorporating such useful visual elements as maps, charts, and images of wine labels, Zraly starts with basics such as what kinds of grapes go into wine, how weather affects the harvest, and how to taste wine. Then, in an affable, question-and-answer format, Zraly explores both the red and white wine regions of France, Germany, California, Italy, Spain, and Australia, with detours to Washington, Oregon, and New York State. In each section, he explains which grapes are used in the region's important wines, gives advice on the best wines to buy and what to serve them with, notes trends over the last decade, and explains how to get the most information from wine labels. He also includes very useful sections on special wines like Champagne, Sherry, and Port, with advice on buying, storing, and serving. Sections on matching wine with food, ordering from restaurant wine lists, starting a wine cellar, and even creating a wine list for a restaurant are included as well.

In this year's edition, Zraly has updated his specific wine recommendations, his "Best Bets for Recent Vintages" information, and added new sections reflecting recent wine trends. For instance, in California, more acres are planted in Zinfandel grapes than any other variety (the infamous white Zinfandel is the largest-selling varietal wine in the U.S.), but Merlot has seen the fastest rate of new plantings over the past five years. Zraly predicts that California winemakers will continue to experiment with grape varieties like Syrah, Sangiovese, and Grenache.

Throughout Windows on the World Wine Course, Zraly makes it clear that there's no need to be intimidated by wine, whether you're buying an expensive bottle for a special occasion or looking for a fair price on a casual wine from a restaurant wine list. All you need is a basic understanding and a willingness to listen to your own tastebuds. This lively and practical book will help anyone interested in learning more about wine become an enthusiastic and informed wine lover.

—Kate Murphy Zeman

House Beautiful
. . .a terrific gift.
New York Times Book Review
An elegant smorgasbord. . . One of the best start-from-scratch wine books ever written. . .If you have never bought a wine book before, start with this one. If you have a roomful of wine books, get this one anyway. It's a whole new way to look at the subject.
USA Today
A thoroughly user-friendly overview that asks and answers all the right questions.
Boston Globe
. . .should be required reading for neophytes and intermediary wine lovers.
Wine and Spirits
Lively, down-to-earth style makes this an easy and enjoyable read.. . .a must-read. . . .Recommended.
. . .indispensable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440596110
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/1989
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 8.02 (w) x 9.95 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Table of Contents

Dedication 4
Foreword 5
Introduction 7
Prelude to Wine 9
Class 1 The White Wines of France 21
Class 2 The White Wines of California and New York 44
Class 3 The White Wines of Germany
Class 4 The Red Wines of Burgundy and the Rhine Valley 75
Class 5 The Red Wines of Bordeaux 95
Class 6 The Red Wines of California 111
Class 7 The Wines of the World: Italy, Spain, & Australia 121
Class 8 Champagne, Sherry, and Port 139
Matching Wine and Food 153
Wine-Buying Strategies for Your Wine Cellar 159
Creating an Exemplary Restaurant Wine List 164
Wine Service in Restaurants 170
Award-Winning Wine Lists 176
Glossary and Pronunciation Guide 178
Index 187
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Interviews & Essays

On Saturday, January 10, welcomed Kevin Zraly, author of WINDOWS ON THE WORLD COMPLETE WINE COURSE.

Moderator: Get a little sheepish when the waiter pours those first few drops of wine in your glass to taste? Do you fumble over those descriptives nutty, tired, bouquet, legs? Kevin Zraly, wine director at the renowned Windows on the World restaurant, is here to answer all of your wine queries. Welcome, Mr. Zraly! What are you sipping tonight?

Kevin Zraly: Well, I just opened a bottle from St. Supéry 1994 Meritage wine. St. Supéry is a winery in California, Napa Valley, and it was sent to me as a sample. I get thousands of bottles of wine a year that I must sample. It's a tough life. I have to start early in the morning -- would anyone like to join me?

Yuri from New Orleans: Hello, Kevin. I'm just wondering, what kind of wine would you serve with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? Do you agree that Beaujolais should become the traditional wine of Thanksgiving?

Kevin Zraly: I just did a TV special in New York on Thanksgiving wines. I will also be on "The Today Show" on Saturday morning, probably speaking about the same thing. Thanksgiving is a family meal. My in-laws don't drink, so it's really just me and my two brothers-in-law, and they'll drink anything. But in general, when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, it's not just the turkey or the ham or the roast beef, it's all of the other fruits and vegetables and potatoes that are served with the meal, such as turnips, sweet potatoes, and cranberry, which make it difficult to find the perfect wine. I suggest, for those who drink red, that there's nothing wrong with having the Beaujolais Nouveau, but I personally prefer to have more body, which brings me to a Pinot Noir, either from California or from Burgundy, France. For those who prefer white, I would try a California Fumé Blanc that has some oak age, or a Chardonnay that has not been aged in oak, such as a Mâcon from France, or an inexpensive Chardonnay from California.

Shahla McGreary from Omaha, NE: What does it mean when someone says wine has legs?

Kevin Zraly: First, I'm watching the Nebraska football team every week, and I'm hoping they'll win. In regards to legs, there's only one kind of legs I look at -- and they have nothing to do with wine! My role in life for the last 27 years has been to take the excess hokum out of wine. The most important thing in wine tasting, which should be called wine smelling, is obviously the sense of smell, followed by the color of the wine, which tells me the drinkability of the wine. And then on to the fun part, which is the tasting.

Louise Harris from Chicago: I love wines! But recently I have been diagnosed with migraine headaches. I am told that sulfates in wines can trigger these headaches in some people. Do you know of any sulfate-free or low-sulfate-content wines? Recently I have explored organic wines. Thanks.

Kevin Zraly: Okay, first of all, all wines contain sulfates -- it is a natural by-product of fermentation. Some wineries around the world also use sulfur dioxide as an antioxidant, a preservative, and a disinfectant. The newest trend that I see happening is, as you said, organic wine, with no sulfites added or pesticides used. Two I will recommend, and there are many more, are from California, the Fetzer Winery, and from the Rhône Valley in France, the wines from Beaucastel. For a further directory of organically grown wines, you should contact the Wine Institute in San Francisco.

Kim from Queens: I had the pleasure of taking your class about a year ago. Loved it! Just curious -- what was the house white and house red at the Zraly house this summer? Could you include the year please? Thanks for your tip for Napa Ridge and Hawk Crest Chardonnays. They are heaven.

Kevin Zraly: I think you just answered part of the question. Those are two that I recommend, and for a few more, I would say the Robert Mondavi Woodbridge selections; and from France, Côtes du Rhône by Jaboulet; from Chile, the Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon; from Australia, the Rosemount Chardonnay or Shiraz. You should also go to a store called Best Cellars on 87th and Lexington where they only carry 100 wines, all under $10.

Mark Hammond from Chicago: What do you recommend as the best type of wine opener? Are there any special tricks to using a plain old corkscrew? I always seem to get cork in the bottle!

Kevin Zraly: I'm sorry about the Chicago Bears -- maybe next year. And that's the reason that wine consumption has gone up in Chicago! I personally have always used a waiter's corkscrew. I find it the easiest for me, but there are so many "easy" corkscrews to buy -- your life should be made easy. When opening a bottle of wine with whatever corkscrew, the biggest mistake that people make is not allowing the screw to go all the way through the cork. If you go halfway through, you will pull out half the cork, and so on.... If worse comes to worse, use your thumb.

Kendra from What's your opinion on Merlot-Cabernet combinations? I'm always a little skeptical of these labels.

Kevin Zraly: Some of my favorite wines in the world are made from a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. One of the most famous wine regions on earth is Bordeaux, France, and the red wines of this region are made by blending Cabernet and Merlot together. They are also the number-one collectibles in the wine world, which says something about their longevity. In California, I personally believe the best red wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and there is a new style wine called Meritage, which not only uses Cabernet and Merlot but other grapes that are also grown in the Bordeaux region. These are wines that need aging; the great Cabernet and Merlot blends definitely need aging. A great Château from Bordeaux needs a minimum of ten years before drinking.

Kerry from Hartford, CT: Can you explain the significance of the rooster label on Chiantis? Also, what's the best year for Chianti?

Kevin Zraly: I have one question for you first Can you tell me how many presidents they've had in Italy since the end of World War II? There have been over 50! What I'm trying to say is that for many years, the laws regarding the production of Chianti was abused, and the top producers decided to form a group in which they identify themselves with the rooster so the consumer would know the best Chiantis to buy. Today the laws are very much adhered to, and a great Chianti Classico Riserva are some of the best wines made in the world today. You might have noticed that the black rooster is no longer used. In regard to vintages, if you can find any from the 1990 vintage buy them up, and also look for the newly released 1995.

Homer from Brooklyn: I was at Balthazar this weekend and was given a glass of wine that I was told was really expensive. It was a red wine from Chateau Ste. Michelle. Please tell me about it. (I was too embarrassed to admit my ignorance to my colleague.)

Kevin Zraly: Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the premier wine makers of Washington State and accounts for over 75 percent of the production from Washington State. It is owned by a small company called U.S. Tobacco. Most likely the wine that you had was either a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot, both of which grow extremely well in Washington State's Columbia Valley. They also represent extremely good value.

Elisa from NYC: My roommates love wine, but we can hardly afford to drink it as often as we would like. Could you suggest two to three reasonable varieties of reds, preferably Chianti and Merlot, that won't break our banks?

Kevin Zraly: Lets start with Chiantis. There are many good producers of Chianti. It is important that you not just buy a Chianti, but a Chianti Classico Riserva. Or, if times are really bad, you could just have a Chianti Classico, but it would have to come from the 1995 vintage. Three to look for Antinori, Brolio, and Ruffino. In regards to Merlot, I would look at Chile and, as mentioned, Los Vascos. Another good one is called Concha y Toro, from the U.S. I would look toward Washington State -- one of my favorites is called Columbia Crest. And lastly, one of the hottest regions in France is called Languedoc-Roussillon; look for a label called Fortant de France.

Matthew Broden from Old Saybrook, CT: What's your philosophy about half-finished bottles? Is it okay to recork and stick the unfinished wine in the fridge, or should we leave it out? Then how long will it last once it's corked?

Kevin Zraly: Matthew, I hope you will remember the song "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bed-post overnight?" Does wine lose its flavor and change after it's been opened? The answer is yes, although I've never had this problem, because I finish everything, just like my mother said. Seriously, the most important thing you can do is cork the wine immediately and put it into the refrigerator, whether it's red or white. Do not leave it on your kitchen countertop -- bacteria grows in a warmer temperature. Bottom line You've got 48 hours.

Tony from Hartford, CT: Mr. Zraly, Do you have any favorite Argentinian Malbecs and/or reds from Portugal?

Kevin Zraly: My favorite winery of Argentina is Weinert, which produces a great Malbec. When it comes to Portugal, they have just recently, in my opinion, put more time and effort into making higher quality reds and whites. And therefore I have nothing at this time to recommend, but I am watching Portugal closely, while I drink my '63 vintage port.

Michael from Poughkeepsie, NY: Hello, I just recently moved to the Dutchess County area, and I have discovered several vineyards in the county. I was wondering if an area such as this, with such a short growing season, is capable of producing a quality wine, and if so, are you familiar with any of the wineries in this area? Thank you.

Kevin Zraly: Hi, neighbor. I live on the other side of the river, in Nupals. The answer to your question will be answered when you try the wines of Millbrook winery. Not only do they produce an excellent Chardonnay but their Pinot Noir has also won many awards. But I do agree with you that the growing season here in the Hudson valley probably is too cold to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot.

Carter from Georgia: Hi. I am reading everywhere that 1997 is going to be a great year for wine. What makes a good year? Do you agree? Even California wines? Thank you for taking my question.

Kevin Zraly: The answer is God. Meaning that He controls the weather, and 1997 I'm sure will be a great vintage in certain regions on earth, but not everywhere. Basically, the wine writers have looked at all the weather conditions, such as how many days of sunlight, how much rain, when did the growers pick the grapes, etc., but few have tasted the finished product. Therefore, 1997 vintage, or any vintage for that matter, is just like a horse race The wine might be coming around the bend, but except for Beaujolais Nouveau, it hasn't reached the finish line.

Moderator: Thanks so much for joining us here tonight, Mr. Zraly. I think I speak for us all when I say you've really lessened the mystery about wine. I, for one, am on my way to enjoy a bottle. Goodnight!

Kevin Zraly: In case this is an emergency white with fish, red with meat. May all your vintages be great.

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