The Concise Guide To Wine And Blind Tasting

By Neel Burton and James Flewellen


Acherson Press pp376

I remember when I was first starting to discover wine in the early 1960s. I was at Hotel School, and was sharing a flat with a friend. It was our custom to invite our respective girl friends to a meal on the Saturdays, which I cooked, after which we would sally forth to the inevitable party. Each week I bought a bottle of classed growth Bordeaux, or something similar (I hardly have to point out that wines were much cheaper in those days). And, of course I would take a note on the wine. One weekend during the vacation, earning money to supplement my grant, I bought two bottles, both Léovilles , and both 1953. And, not having any decanters, I asked my friend to remove both the cork and the capsule and cover the bottle in foil, so that I could taste the wines blind.

The fact of having two bottles to compare and contrast was a revelation. I learned 500 percent more about the wines than I would have done if I had tasted them individually. Ever since, when someone has asked me how to learn about wine, I have replied, get together with like-minded friends, open more than one bottle at a time, taste them blind and then sit back discuss and enjoy, preferably with food.

Messrs. Burton (and it is Neel, rather than Neil or Neal – this is not a typo) and Flewellen have produced just the book that anyone needs; anyone, that is, who is on the point of graduating from occasional wine drinker to someone who is going to make a hobby of it. This is a splendid, concise (as the title tells us) up to date, comprehensive and accurate guide to the wines of the world, to the grape varieties and the way wine is made. Moreover, it tells you how to set up a blind tasting and what rules to follow, together with a glossary of 'key terms and concepts', as they put it.

Just about any interested wine drinker will profit from this book. Warmly recommended!