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Two Wine Books for Women
reviewed by Dean Tudor
 (November 14, 2003)

Wine: A Woman's Guide (Bantam Press, 2003, 288 pages, ISBN 0-593-04993-4, $25.95 paper covers) is by Kitty Johnson, a wine writer and media person in the UK – and Hugh Johnson's daughter.

She asks "Why this book?" and she says that, in the UK, women drink more wine than men do. She also notes that women care less about name-dropping and vintages, women care more about taste and enjoyment, and women have a finely tuned sense of smell and taste.

She goes on to describe the women in the industry: the widows (e.g. Veuve Cliquot) and daughters (e.g. Rothschild) who took over wineries, women winemakers around the world, wine writers, PR personnel, agents. But men still dominate, particularly in Europe and the UK. Women have some measure of equality in the North American wine business. And there are many spousal co-partnerships as well in the New World.

The appeal of the book seems mainly to upwardly mobile women who need to hold their own in business discussions. Johnson fittingly examines wine styles and how wine squeezes into lifestyles and food. She begins with winetasting descriptions that we all know and love: oaky, creamy, buttery, biscuity, juicy, crisp, spicy, earthy, honeyed, floral, peppery, stalky, etc. Then she moves on to wine and food matching, paying attention to vegetarian foods and organic wines – two big areas in many women's lives. Other material covers parties, holidays, shopping by label, indications of sweet or dry, bars and restaurants, dealing with waitstaff, and health aspects.

What I don't like about this book: the stiff paperback book is hard to open up and read. There are many names and addresses for wines, but they are all British – sadly, this is unavoidable since the book was published in the UK.
What I do like about this book: there is a lot of useful information here for both genders, particularly on wine tasting.
Quality-to-price rating: 90

Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine (William Morrow, 2003; distr. by HarperCollins, 337 pages, ISBN 0-06-052332-8, $38.95) is by Leslie Sbrocco, a wine reviewer for the New York Times and a wine judge.

In the United States, 64% of all wine consumers are women. Sbrocco has three main areas of guidance for women: shopping guides and recommended wines (how to buy), wine and food meals and pairing (menu design), and tips and advice on storage, serving, gifting, entertaining. But she doesn't really give any valid reasons for this book as "wine knowledge for women": she doesn't go into the hows and whys of women being better tasters, or their positions in the industry. On the other hand, she doesn't write for that business connection as Johnson does.

She has produced a decent, if general, introductory wine book, useful for both genders. And certainly an excellent book for waitstaff. She does a varietal-by-varietal approach, not a taste profile approach. So she goes from chardonnay, through pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, riesling, viognier and the aromatics, then the reds (beginning with cabernet sauvignon through zinfandel), rose, sparklers, dessert wines. The emphasis is on connecting place to taste, such as New Zealand for sauvignon blanc.

There are illustrations of labels for purchasing wines, along with shopping guides and price ranges. She has lots of food ideas, suggestions, and recipes in narrative style to go with each grape variety, based on the weight of the wine. She has an active website, www.lesliesbrocco.com, through which one can access more or different data on wine buying, pairing, and sharing (entertaining). She also has a monthly email newsletter.

What I don't like about this book: I don't really see a gender focus here.
What I do like about this book: there is a lengthy – but U.S. – resources list for websites on buying wines, accessories, travel, associations, wine schools, wine events, and importers. Most of this data is useful in Canada.
Quality-to-price rating: 89

 

 

 

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