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Two Good Reads for Wine Geeks

I Taste Red: The Science of Tasting Wine

Jamie Goode is one of my favorite writers about the science of wine attributable to his knack of explaining complicated subjects in a simple to understand manner. That said, there will not be a vast number of people interested in reading 220 pages about the chemical senses, wine flavor chemistry, flavor perception, and approaches to wine tasting. As one who tastes wine frequently, however, I found the book enthralling and will put it close at hand for future reference.

Goode is highly quotable and this excerpt from a discussion in the book about whether wine tasting is subjective or objective (or both) is a perfect example: “In conclusion, each person’s biology, knowledge, and prior experience are important factors in shaping their perception of flavor, suggesting that there is a strong subjective element in the activity....While there is a surprising amount of agreement on the (objective) taste of wine....there is still a degree to which consensus is just not possible.”

Goode does not have all the answers to the questions he raises, but he is able to offer educated arguments that can give the reader valuable insight into the wine tasting process. I gobbled up the book in two days, and that should be a valuable recommendation for those inquisitive about reading this book.

The Inside Story of a Wine Label

Author Ann Reynolds has made a business out of helping wineries craft labels that tell the consumer all they need to know as well as being fully compliant with federal standards. In this brief, 75 page, soft cover book, Reynolds explains in detail all the required and non-required items seen on domestic wine labels. As she notes in the Introduction, “I’m on a mission to help consumers, connoisseurs and wine professional understand what goes on a wine label and why.”

An example of the many subjects covered by Reynolds is the confusing terminology commonplace on back labels such as "blended," "cellared," "prepared", "produced," or "vinted" followed by “and bottled by.” Although important in making an informed wine purchase, few consumers understand what these phrases actually mean.

You can breeze through this book in an hour or two and be entertained as well by favorite personal stories of the author from years of interacting with all the behind the scenes activities that lead up to a label being placed on a bottle of wine. This is another reference that I plan to keep close at hand.

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