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The Advanced Oenophile
By Denman Moody
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
This was my first pick from my new Kindle Lending Library membership; for those who don't know, one of the many side benefits of getting an Amazon Prime membership is that you then get to "borrow" one book from the Kindle Store every month, and I'm devoting my 12 this year to such hobbyist activities as wine collecting and indoor gardening. This book, however, has the same problem as many titles on rare-book collecting I've read as well; the author writes in this really bizarre style, simultaneously too formal and too chummy, using purple prose to floridly describe obscure dinners with name-checked friends from 40 years ago where seemingly monumental decisions about the wine world were made behind the backs of all the Philistines, almost as if the author were deliberately trying to parody one of the overblown characters from a minor Charles Dickens book. (Not an actual quote, but a sentence that certainly describes the tone: "Ah, I remember fondly the historic chicken dinner in Houston in 1974 with my dear friend Dr. Hans Bieder, in which it was proven once and for all that light reds from central California are infinitely better than those from the northern half of the state. Oh, what a halcyon night it was!") To be fair, this does contain a certain amount of useful basic information about the various types of wines and wine regions out there, although unfortunately its New World sections are already becoming outdated a mere five years after its first printing (Did you know that a growing amount of people are now enjoying wine from South America??!!); but the majority of this book consists of nothing else but bulleted lists of top-tier wineries in just about any section of the world you can name, which you can find more cheaply and more easily just by popping around Wikipedia on a Thursday afternoon. A fun little read to be sure, if for nothing else than the unwittingly satirical portrait it paints of an insufferable wine snob (Moody was one of the first serious American wine journalists in the 1970s, when the US first started gaining its world-class status, and HE NEVER LETS YOU FORGET IT); but I can't in good conscience say that this is worth paying money for and deliberately going out of your way to pick up, unless like me you have an opportunity to scan it quickly through a free loan.
Out of 10: 5.0