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June 2019
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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

Book Giveaway: from one expert to another

by Julie Mautner of  The Provence Post

Wine writer Jancis Robinson is known for big books, such as the 912-page Oxford Companion to Wine (currently in its fourth, much-revised edition) and the 1280-page Wine Grapes (which won every major wine book award in the year of its publication). Perhaps that’s one reason her newest title, which just came out in the US, is so compelling: how much of her 40 years of wine experience could she possibly cram into just 111 pages, between two tiny 5” x 7” covers?
As you might have expected…quite a lot.
24HourWineExpert22660JFTo celebrate the publication of this new hardcover version (the first was a paperback published in the UK in February), Jancis’ New York publisher Abrams, has given me five copies of The 24-Hour Wine Expert to give away. With corkscrews! Yep, to enter simply leave a comment below. Five lucky readers will get a copy of the book and a corkscrew to match.
Jancis is one of the most-respected, most-prolific wine writers working today. And boy, does she work. Based in London, she travels roughly one third of the year:  tasting, rating and writing for a multitude of publications including her website, which is updated daily and has subscribers in more than 100 countries. Jancis writes a weekly column for the Financial Times while Decanter called her “the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world.” She even provides advice to the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II. (I love the idea of the Queen ringing up…Jan? Sorry to be a bother, but the King of Spain is on his way and I have no idea what to pour!)
When I caught up with her last week, Jancis was up in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where she told me she had just finished tasting some 175 vintages.
“This week?” I asked.
“Today,” she replied.
To learn more about her background and accomplishments, read her shortish Wikipedia bio here or the full, amazing one here…but be forewarned: whatever you’ve done with your life, you’ll feel like a total slacker if you do!

This new book, Jancis says, is for people who like wine but don’t feel quite sure of themselves in a wine shop buying for a dinner party…or in a restaurant, wine list in hand. “It’s for people who want a shortcut to the essentials,” she says.

And so, after taking us quickly but comprehensively through the wine regions of the world and their grapes, she sets out to painlessly help us make the most of what she calls “the most delicious, stimulating, varied and infuriatingly complicated drink in the world.”

Topics include how to select the right bottle at retail; understanding the properties of color and aroma; what the different shapes of bottles and their labels tell you; what terms like “full body,” “supple,” “round” and “nose” really mean; what wines pair well with foods such as pizza, sushi or Thai; what the terms organic, biodynamic and natural mean in the wine world; how to chill and warm wines; and much more.
And what about that perennial question about how price correlates to quality? As in, how much do we really need to spend to get a good bottle?
“There is no direct correlation between price and quality in wine,” she writes, before giving us a handy list of underpriced, overpriced and splurge-worthy labels. “Many wines are overpriced because of inflated market demand, ambition, greed, or just because a marketing person sees the need for an ‘icon wine’ in the range. The difference in quality between wines at the top and bottom ends of the price scale is narrower than it has ever been, while the difference in price has never been greater.”
“Packaging, shopping, marketing, and, in many countries, local taxes and duties tend to account for by far the majority of the price of very cheap wines,” Jancis continues, “with the cost of the liquid itself representing a tiny fraction of what you are paying. Ambition is responsible for much of the selling price of more expensive wines. For this reason, the best value is generally in the range of $10 to $30 a bottle. Here, you more or less get what you pay for.”

Sound good? Then leave a comment below (click where it says comments) for your chance to win a copy…and a corkscrew! If you have a wine anecdote to share, even better! And please be sure to include your email address or we can’t reach you if you win…best is to put it right in the body of your comment text.

If you want to buy the book, it’s in all the major retailers or order it on Amazon here

2 comments to Book Giveaway: from one expert to another

  • “We have three exceptional children vintage-dated 1982, 1984 and 1991…” Dedication to her work even in her vocabulary! Her bio is truly dizzying, as you suggest in your article.

  • Steve Lanchbury

    Sounds just the book I need to read, as I’ve always found buying wines and in particular ordering them in a restaurant a minefield.
    We recently were in the Minervois area to look at houses. On arrival we went to the supermarket to buy provisions,including wine of course. We always like to try something local and bought a few from a village a couple of kilometres from our gite. After 10 days of house hunting over a wide area, we eventually had our offer accepted for a house in a village close to where we were staying. Yes, it was the same village from which we had tasted and enjoyed their wines. Perhaps it was fate, or my head following my taste buds.
    We are looking forward to continuing to buy local!

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