April 3 2009
A Year of Wine
The holidays give way to Valentine’s Day that lead to St. Patrick’s Day, which leads to tax time and Easter, and then its BBQ season with Memorial Day before the 4th of July and then back to school time, and Halloween before we start it all over again with Thanksgiving and the holidays.
When it comes down to it, our lives are routine interspersed with day-to-day bouts of new circumstance, ever evolving.
Within those holiday mile markers, each annual month also represents something when you consider Mother and Father’s Day, various birthday’s, personal anniversaries, etc.
And, for many people, wine rides shotgun as a companion to these annual events building wine stained and pleasurable memories.
It is under this premise and calendar pattern that Tyler Colman (aka Dr. Vino) chose his writing device for the recently published book, “A Year of Wine.”
To be sure, every year there are numerous introductory wine guides published. I know, I own most of them. Some folks will tell you that they do not read these books, having graduated from them years ago. Call it personal style or preference, but I still read them – first, they are good for a refresher and secondarily there is always a new nugget to pick up, a new perspective, a fresh take that shifts my point of view. I consider myself a lifelong learner and coming back to the basics with some regularity lets you tackle subject matter that is more complex with more vigor.
Given that, it is a joy and a pleasure to read Tyler’s book. It has ascended to the top of my intro. guide favorites list, right next to Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine. Not only is his crystalline writers voice clear, concise and accessible, but he’s truly done something inventive with the introductory wine guide genre by interspersing his wisdom very suitably within the context of the calendar.
Take April for instance – April is known for what? We are in the throes of Spring as we pass April Fool’s Day; observe Tax season and cap off the month with Earth Day.
Given this framework, Tyler users Earth Day as a launching point to discuss green wine and carbon footprints and as our palates turn to lighter fare, Tyler discusses oak applications and oaked whites for this time of year, before making some inexpensive tax time wine recommendations, reviewing Gruner Veltiner and making a Rioja travel recommendation.
Hearty kudos to Tyler for this very natural presentation form that aids retention and makes consuming the subject matter interesting within the context of our lives. Even if you are an old wine pro, there is something to pick up and enjoy with this book.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Speaking of April, the good folks at Icon Estates have been kind to send samples of Kim Crawford, amongst other brands, with a nod towards vino relief at tax time. In honor of April, in honor of “A Year of Wine” and in honor of his recommendation of April being a good time for oaked whites, I am drinking both the Kim Crawford Oaked Sauvignon Blanc and the Unoaked version. Suffice to say, I am a fan of Kim Crawford, and while I am not an out and out advocate of oak, the oaked version is grassy, grapefruity, pleasantly acidic, and eminently quaffable. And, it is better, in my mind, than the unoaked version, which is no slouch, just a little less dazzling for the dollar.
It is a wonderous to me how Kim Crawford drives such quality year after year with the case volume that they deliver, but it is pretty much my house white. Anybody that scuttles or slag’s so-called “corporate” wine would be doing himself or herself a favor by turning their wrist on this delicious screw top Sav. Blanc.
Eat Me by Kenny Shopsin and the Book of Guinness Advertising
I like reading books. I like the tactile nature of holding something, highlighting it, jotting a note, dog-earing a page, but I keep reading reports about book sales declining, the fact that Generation Y. doesn’t read books, Kindle sales are growing, all of this conflicting information …
Here is what I know – Gary Vaynerchuk, whose audience skews younger, is getting a cool $1M to write 10 books and I still buy a crap load of books at my tender age of 36. I am not sure if I will being buying the Vaynerchuk library (no pun intended), but at least one or two are probably destined for circulation from the library or my permanent bookshelf.
The nature of publishing is changing, but books are not going away, at least not in the near future.
That said, two books that I have been reading are two highly recommended reads – neither has anything to do with wine, but therein lays the joy.
Eat me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin is a fantastic read – fun, funny, educational – it is a combo memoir/cook book, with full color pictures. Shopsin is one of a kind, a true iconoclast and his eponymous restaurant is famed in New York circles for its down-home vibe, its rules and its consistently good 900-item menu. I love old school guys, bedrock in principle, whether I agree or not, and dedicated to a craft. Kenny is that kind of person. His book is an extension of his persona, or what I perceive to be his persona, and is very well done.
The Book of Guinness Advertising is a walk back in history – all of those Guinness reproduction signs you see in faux Irish pubs? Well, they had to get their start somewhere and this book chronicles the history of Guinness’ advertising history, most of it is brilliant, by the way.
Oddly enough, in my beer, which is somewhat in contrast to the majority of my wine life, I am not ashamed to say that I enjoy Corona and Guinness, both beers that are a little less, shall we say, authentic in their native country than they could be.
I find this book fascinating because within 10 pages of cracking the spine I cannot imagine a Creative Director subsequently continuing to produce anymore of the schlock that passes for winery advertising. “Inspirational” comes to mind.
Buy this one for the home office and appreciate its full color art and historical perspective after you have poured yourself the perfect pint after a long day.
Disclosures: A Year of Wine was received as a review copy from the publisher. Kim Crawford wines were received as a sample from the winery. Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin is a bookI bought to read on vacation this coming week and The Book of Guinness Advertising I bought as a gift for my brother several years back, borrowed it back and I intend on “forgetting” I borrowed it, thereby making it a part of my book collection. That’s enough disclosures, I think.
What I blogged about a year ago— A Word on the Birthplace of Wine