Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Best New Wine Books

I am always asked to recommend wine books. Each year hundreds of new wine books are published. Taken together, they provide more than 15 original thoughts and more than 25 things worth knowing about wine! With some foresight, a novice wine enthusiast could spend a year reading these books and emerge with more than six minutes of insight. Which is more than one can say about reading the collected works of Glenn Beck, which would more than likely produce brain hemorrhaging and the desire to tithe 10 percent of your income to Summers Eve.

Receiving an MS
As part of my dedication to wine and wine knowledge, I read every wine book published, except those written by an author with an M.S. No need to read those. Do you remember the scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the Scarecrow is given a diploma by the great and powerful Oz and, therefore, is automatically a genius? Same thing with an M.S. Only instead of a brain, they believe the diploma gives them a palate. 

Here are my favorite new wine books.

 Natural Wine Is Crap by Rudolf Steiner (translated from Austrian by Professor Irwin Corey)
Originally published in 1932, here is Steiner's argument for never using organic or biodynamic practices as an excuse for making crappy wine. "Biodynamic practices were never intended to make wine," Steiner says, "that's just stupid. Wine is the most manipulated thing on the table, aside from my nephew's ding-dong. There is no such thing as 'natural' wine any more than there is 'natural' Wienerschnitzel. By definition, wine, from start to finish, from vineyard to bottle, is a product of man's intervention, so it's about as natural as mustard gas. How ignorant are people to believe 'natural wine' has any meaning? It's like thinking mannequins regurgitate plastic vomit."

This is a must read for those who will certainly never read it.

A History of The Hundred Point Scale by Madge N. Airy
The 100 Point Scale--Weigh Stupid

Perhaps the most controversial wine book of 2011, Airy's book argues that the Hundred Point Scale was originally conceived as a joke. Her meticulously researched book includes historic letters from Robert Parker to several of his attorney friends that explain, as one letter puts it, “The scores I add to my reviews have no meaning, but, hell, they’re a damned funny joke. And now people believe them! What a bunch of rubes. I made up the scores just like I made up billable hours.” From there, Airy reveals insider Wine Spectator emails from Marvin Shanken to Spectator wine critics that say, “Just write the descriptions using the approved Wine Adjective Software and we’ll assign the numbers in the editorial meeting. This means you, Fish. You wouldn’t know a 96 from a 69, which explains why your moustache smells funny.”

Airy makes a compelling case that the 100 Point Scale was diabolically forced on consumers much like the SAT, Credit Ratings and Ralph Nader.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Wine Encyclopedias edited by Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, Hugh Johnson, and Tom Stevenson; Introduction by Larry the Cable Guy, MW

This is a must-have for every wine lover. Worth it just for Larry the Cable Guy, MW’s lucid introduction. “Hell, my grandpa made wine every bit as good as anything from France. French wine is stupid, and I’ll tell you why. French people make it. Same people as make Renaults and Jean-Luc Godard movies. Them people that worship Jerry Lewis and think Roman Polanski has a “Genius Get Out of Jail Free” card taped to his Andouille sausage. All they know how to make right is white flags.” On top of that, you get 1200 pages of recycled wine facts expertly alphabetized. No one knows how to alphabetize like the English. Wondering what comes first, Petite Sirah or Petite Syrah? (I won’t give it away.) It’s here in this handy reference guide to handy reference guides. I can’t wait until next year’s blockbuster, “The Oxford Guide to the Oxford Encyclopedia of The World Atlas of Wine Encyclopedias: A Complete Guide.”

There’s an MS in My Pants, or At Least Something is Warm, Smelly and Squishy by Sara Doctor Indehaus.

A fascinating tell-all book by an MS candidate that reveals the secretive, misunderstood and dangerous cult of Master Sommeliers. Indehaus, for the first time in print, reveals the secret Master Sommelier Oath, “They don’t know shit, and we do.” She takes us step by step through the sommelier tests, including her final oral exams. Who knew they had gloryholes? Yes, this is the real world of MS and the people who strive who join their ranks. It will surprise you, it will enlighten you, and, most of all, it will make you want to spit.


New Scale Daddy said...

Well, good morning to you, Jose.

I am so sad after reading your latest commentary. Just yesterday, my wife bought me a new 100-point scale--one of those electronic ones so that is so much more accurate than the windup model I have been using.

The magic word for today is: moilie. That is a guy who works for tips.

Samantha Dugan said...

Nearly lost my shit on Madge N Airy....

SUAMW said...


Weren't you supposed to be writing for Snooth, or Lot Blinks a lot 185?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

New Scale Daddy,

I've always found that too many of the people using the 100 point scale have the damn thing set at 50 when they begin. Read the manual, people!

Stillman Brown said...

The 100 point scale was the Emperor Bob IIIs substitute for the archaic measurement known as "price" which has both objective and subjective biases, unless you have Obama's credit card number. Bob the Noseless was forced to invent a new system because he got all his wine for free.

Thomas said...

"...moilie. That is a guy who works for tips."

Almost as funny as Hose's post.

Hmmm. Is that a compliment?

Glad to say that the only scale in my home rests on the leaves of the Meyer lemon and Kafir lime trees--there must be a hundred on each!

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I thought "Bob the Noseless" was the name of a charity for people in need of plastic surgery. Man, I need to get out more.


Well, I may have to break out the Million Point Scale again, but at the moment the only scales around my house are from my psoriasis. I am a flaky bastard.

Marcia Macomber said...

I'm with Samantha. "Madge N Airy" - Who does she think she is?

Word Verif: under.... Really?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Love,

I think it's that same Madge that used to sell Palmolive dish washing soap...Not that you are anywhere near old enough to remember Madge.


This post sucks sulfites. I mean it, way below average. And below average for you is like below average for a Gaboon viper. They bite you right in the Gaboon. If you want to make fun of wine books, why not go after Alice or that Vaynerwoodchuck? What about that crap that Theise peddles as wisdom? Stop taking the easy way out.

Oh hell, nobody reads you anyway. Especially me.

Tips Daddy said...

Thank you, Mr. P.

I know a guy who chose to be a moile for elephants because the tips were so big.

I am a little worried that Ron did not get the joke. Maybe you have to live in New York to get it.

Thomas said...

Tips Daddy,

Here's a tip: don't tell a joke if you have to explain it...

You may be onto something with that New York comment. I'm not a Jew, but because I grew up in Brooklyn's melting pot, I can play one on television. Although, I doubt I'd make a good tipster/moile.

Have we taken over this site yet?

Stillman Brown said...

Did your degree come from having tripped over a hose in a winery, therefore giving you more actual experience than 99% of sommeliers? You've earned more I hereby confer on you the degree of Doctor of Wine, Inebriate, (acronym apparent) which will allow you to look down the remains of your nose even more distantly at mere Masters. Your diploma will be on Aussie sheepskin, softened with ion exchange in a bottle and written in menstrual Tenturier . . . as soon as I finish with the sheep.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,

I got the joke. What, you should want I award it Two Puffs?


Somewhere in my archives there's an Origins post about how I became the first and only HoseMaster. It's a self-awarded title, just like CSW.

Thomas said...


If you got the joke, why don't you just give Puff daddy a tip...this could go on forever, you know.

My verify word: havilo (nahgila?)

Samantha Dugan said...

I once had a moilie removed from my flatbush....close enough? Yeah, that even made me cringe, just wanted to play too.

Till said...

HoseMaster, my mascara runneth over! Can't wait for the fun this spring when you have your way with the new documentary, SOMM: http://vimeo.com/34996725

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I guess I'm just more circumspect than most. I've always been a big tipper. Maybe a moile would make me happier. You know, the moile the merrier.

Samantha, My Love,

OK, now we're even for the Parker nursing Jay Miller image.

Till There Was YouTube,

Yikes, that "documentary" sounds duller than Kobrand's portfolio. Though I'm pretty sure it must be a comedy. Wow, a rare look inside the MS exam. Kinda reminds me of Katie Couric's TV colonoscopy.

Puff Daddy said...

Dear Jose--

The correct expression is "Vaht? You vant maybe I should give you two poopers"?

Note to Mr. P: Not quite. It is a little like knowing the way to Carnegie Hall.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,

EH, Vahtevuh.

Thomas said...

Believe it or not, I once was stopped in front of a subway station at 59th Street and asked by a tourist, "how do I get to Carnegie Hall."

I couldn't resist, and the guy was not amused by my answer.

Katie Couric had a colonoscopy?

The things I learn online. Ron, do you know how long it took to open the entryway?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Not that long, Thomas, just as long as it took to get Matt Lauer out of there.