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Red Wine Guide: A complete introduction to choosing red wines and White Wine Guide: A complete introduction to choosing white wines by Jim Ainsworth
Reviewed by Dean Tudor
 (December 9, 2002)

Red Wine Guide: A complete introduction to choosing red wines (Mitchell Beazley, 2002, 192 pages, ISBN 1-84000-628-5, $17.95 paper covers) and White Wine Guide: A complete introduction to choosing white wines (Mitchell Beazley, 2002, 192 pages, ISBN 1-84000-627-7, $17.95 paper covers) are both by Jim Ainsworth, with revisions by Simon Woods. They first appeared in 1990 (I still have my copies), with an interim revision in 1999. The white wine book also covers roses, sparklers, and fortified wines from white grapes, such as muscat.

The basic arrangement is dictionary-style by region, opening with a brief description of what to look for in the taste, which regions are comparable, and concluding with short sections on general matters for each country – as opposed to regions. This includes small maps and a digest of wine laws. For example, the area "Côte de Nuits" lists the "Best Known Wines," the grape variety (pinot noir in the red wine book), style and quality/price of the wines, recommended producers, and where to go next if you like the style (e.g., Côte de Beaune, Carneros). Changes since the previous editions indicate that California cabernet sauvignon sells for more than Bordeaux first growths, Washington has great merlot wines, and New Zealand has good pinot noirs. Chile and Languedoc are the regions with emerging great values in wines.

What I do not like about these books: they are no longer in "pocket book" style, which was great for sneaking into wine shops or restaurants, to check on the wines.
What I do like about these books: there are lots of photos on virtually every page. As well, the writing style leans towards sardonic, with some hard-hitting comments.
Quality/Price Ratio rating: 93.

 

 

 

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