Tag Archives: wine books

Judgment of Paris author: Cheap wine matters

George Taber chronicled the most important wine event in modern times, when California wines beat French wines in a blind tasting. Now he has turned his authorial sights on cheap wine — and he likes it.

"For years friends and passing strangers have been asking me to recommend 'a good bottle of wine for under $10 (sometimes $5),' " says Taber. "I could usually come up with something, but that experience got me to thinking that there must be a lot of people out there with that same question."

The result is his forthcoming book: "A Toast to Bargain Wines: How Innovators, Iconoclasts, and Winemaking Revolutionaries Are Changing the Way the World Drinks". It won't be out until November, but I thought it worth mentioning for a couple of reasons — not the least of which is that you can pre-order it. More, after the jump.

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Holiday gift guide 2010

A few thoughts for the wine drinkers on your list. Keep in mind our wine gift-giving guidelines ("Don't buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like") and Champagne and sparkling wine glossary.

? $10 wine: Volteo, five Spanish wines that combine quality, value and approachability. I especially liked the tempranillo and a white blend made with viura, viognier and sauvignon blanc (which I haven't reviewed yet, and might be better than the tempranillo). These wines will likely end up in the 2011 $10 Hall of Fame.

? Regional wine: Have someone on your list who likes wine, but can be difficult to buy for? Then think regional. There is New York riesling, Texas viognier, Virginia red blends, Missouri norton, New Mexican sparkling, and Pennsylvania chambourcin — to name just a few.

? A top-flight corkscrew: The best corkscrews are double-hinged — the part of the corkscrew that rests against the top of the bottle has two parts, which makes pulling the cork that much easier. Best yet, they cost as little as $10.

? Wine books: Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course and The Wine Trials 2011. Yes, I recommend the Zraly book all the time, but that's because it's that good. I even give it as a gift. This is the new version of the Wine Trials, which rates wines that cost $15 and less, and is up to its usual standards.

? Expensive wine: My standby is Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet, a $50 wine that offers depth and  complexity. It's white Burgundy, which means chardonnay, but not like chardonnay that most of us have ever had. My red wine choice is HDV's Belle Cousine, a $60 merlot blend from Napa made by Burgundy native Stephane Vivier.

More about holiday wine gifts:
? Holiday book gift guide 2009
? Holiday wines 2009
? Expensive wine 21: Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
? Holiday wine in a hurry

Winebits 157: Holiday gift guide

? Dave McIntyre on books: The Washington Post wine columnist suggests efforts by importer Terry Thiese, writer Matt Kramer, and Laura Catena on Argentine wines. High praise for the Thiese book: "And if you wonder why wine matters so much to a loved one in your life, let Theise explain."

? Jon Bonne on wine: The San Francisco Chronicle wine writer offers a variety of gift strategies, and our old pal, Pine Ridge's chenin blanc-viognier blend, shows up as one of the best wines to bring to a party. Great description, too: "like wet pine needles after rain".

? Tom Johnson on kitsch: How does the proprietor of the Louisville Juice blog find this stuff — a moose horn wine glass, brass knuckles wine opener, and bathroom humor wine labels?

Winebits 152: Wine Trials, states and wineries, alcohol consumption

? Wine Trials 2011: This is the third edition of one the best guides to cheap wine ever done. Robin Goldstein and his colleagues, using blind tastings, have found 175 wines for $15 and less that are always well worth trying. I'll have a full review later this month; it's enough to know for know that the book includes three Bulgarian wines.

? State spending on the wine business: There was a very odd article in Bloomberg Business Week that detailed increasing state spending on regional wine. Why odd? Because the article inferred, given the budget crises facing so many states, that money spent on developing local wine was money poorly spent. Yet it never quite got around to saying that. Texas spends more than $3 billion annually; wine gets $2.3 million. The Wine Curmudgeon is an ardent supporter of regional wine, but I'm an even bigger supporter of good journalism. If someone at Bloomberg wants to say that state spending on wine could be put to better use, then say so, and let's discuss it.

? Booze and the recession: Do people drink more when the economy is bad? That's the conventional wisdom, that we drink away the hard times. But it's not necessarily true, says a new study by a California state agency. The Board of Equalization, which deals with tax policy, found that U.S. spending on alcohol, before the 2008-09 recession, rose 2.4 percent. In contrast, during the 2008-09 recession, spending on alcohol declined by 1.7 percent. This is an especially relevant report, given that so many states are considering booze tax increases to make up recession-caused deficits. It seems to imply that if states are going to raise consumption taxes, they should do it when the economy is good, since new taxes will bring in more money.