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A Toast to Bargain Wines: How innovators, iconoclasts, and winemaking revolutionaries are changing the way the world drinks (January 26, 2012)

book review
by Dean Tudor, www.deantudor.com

A Toast to Bargain Wines: How innovators, iconoclasts, and winemaking revolutionaries are changing the way the world drinks (Scribner, 2011, 311 pages, ISBN 978-1-4391-9518-5, $15 US paper covers) is by George M. Taber, an award-winning wine book author (Judgment of Paris, To Cork or Not to Cork) with multiple nominations for a Beard and a Simon award.

If you were to survey every wine writer in the world, I think that 99.9% would say that the most frequent question asked of them is "Can you recommend a good wine that costs less than $10 (in local currency)?"

The first half of the book is the more enjoyable: how wine culture had evolved and stories about the creators of value wines such as Fred Franzia and Two-Buck Chuck, John Casella and [yellow tail], and the French investors in Chinese wine. The last half is a narrative guide to best buys: he lists and comments on 10 wines for 34 of the more popular wine varieties (along with a gratuitous two wines that cost above $10), then 10 value brands from 12 regions around the world, and then his 10 favourite box wines. Many of these wines are available in Canada, save the boxes, but at $12–$15 or so.

Bottom line for this book: the publisher says it includes more than 400 recommended wines under $10 US national retail (and many of those wines are often discounted or on sale most of the time). Ultimately, the list of wines matters. Few people really want to actually read about modestly priced wine; they just want a checklist to take with them into a liquor store. The same situation works at the high end too, where buyers don't mind paying $50 or more for a wine, but it had better get 94 points from Parker if they are going to drop that kind of money. So, they make their lists too, cribbed from other wine books. Chacun a son gout.

Taber concludes with a bibliography of source readings.

Audience and level of use: Those interested in wine bargains.

Some interesting or unusual facts: He has the important Tim Hanni Taste Sensitivity Assessment test.

The downside to this book: It could have been a long article or a shorter mass-market paperback selling for under $10, like the wines.

The upside to this book: There are good selections of wines here.

Quality/Price Rating: 88

 

 

 

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