Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wine for Dummies Book review

Wine for Dummies
Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan
ISBN: 0-470-04579-5
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 432 Pages
Pub Date: October 2006 by IDG Books Worldwide
Suggested retail price: $21.99 (US)

Frank’s take:

My copy of Wine for Dummies is looking a little worn and tattered. I have a sentimental soft spot for this book; it was the first wine book that I purchased. My wine library has grown by a couple of hundred volumes since then, but this little volume was my first.

It helped me decode a German wine label, started to lead me through the interstices of the French wine appellations. The pronunciation guide for wine terms was invaluable. The ten excuses to drink Champagne proved the most useful list in the book; I still use them and have added some of my own. The authors also explained the difference between Champagne the region and Champagne the wine and why both should always be spelt with a capital “C.”

When people ask me which book to buy for a wine novice, Wine for Dummies always the first book I suggest. Usually the comment is: no seriously, a Dummies book? It has all the basic information, how to read a wine list, grape types, and the major wine regions of the world. I know quite a few wine geeks who have a copy of this tucked away somewhere. Sure, they have their Oxford Companion to Wine all six pounds of it, but still keep their Dummies book around.

With the Christmas season coming up, it would be a good stocking stuffer for the wine novice in the family, or the young adult you are trying to wean away from Coca Cola. This volume will help take away some of the so-called mystery of wine.

The authors have the qualifications to write a book such as this. Mary Ewing-Mulligan is a Master of Wine, and both Mary and Ed McCarthy are Certified Wine Educators. They know how to present the material factually and with a lot of humor thrown in as well. Thanks for the introduction to wine, guys.

Susan’s take:

Wine for Dummies is a fun read that packs tons of information into a format you look forward to flipping through. For me, this is a “Dipper.” I like to dip into the pages at random, discovering new bits and pieces, ideas and knowledge I can stash away for recall at some unexpected point in the future.

Like all the Dummies books, there’s plenty of humour, and the authors don’t hesitate to poke a little good-natured fun at themselves and each other. I find myself laughing as I learn.

Now in its fourth edition, Mary and Ed have also written four companion books: White Wine for Dummies, French Wine for Dummies, Italian Wine for Dummies, Champagne for Dummies.

PS: For those of you who can’t wait to lay your hands on a copy, here’s a short excerpt to explain why it’s Champagne and not champagne.

“Champagne is a specific sparkling wine (made from certain grape varieties and produced in a certain way) that comes from a region in France called Champagne. Unfortunately for the people of Champagne, France, their wine is so famous that the name champagne has been borrowed again and again by producers elsewhere, until the word has become synonymous with practically the whole category of sparkling wines. For the French, limiting the use of the name champagne to the wines of the Champagne region has become a cause célèbre. European Union regulations not only prevent any other member country from calling its sparkling wines champagne, but also prohibit the use of terms that even suggest the word champagne, such as fine print on the label saying that a wine was made using the “champagne method.” What’s more, bottles of sparkling wine from countries outside the European Union – such as the US and Australia – that use the word champagne on the label are banned from sale in Europe. The French are that serious.”

So now you know. If you want more, check out the latest edition of Wine for Dummies for yourself.

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