Review: Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2010
First released in 1977, this edition marks Johnson’s 33rd year of the powerful pint sized guide to wine. Though I have never seen anyone walking the aisles of their local retailer with their nose in a Pocket Wine Book, it is geared towards the wine-savvy retail consumer.
It is not a “Wine 101” nor a “How to Buy” book, but, rather, an opinionated shopping list of perhaps the most revered wine writer…ever. Top three of all time, at least. If you like new world wines, it is best to keep browsing for the wine book for you. Of 320 pages, less than one third is allotted for the new world (actually an increase from the previous editions) while more than 70 is dedicated to France alone. To understand this book is to understand Hugh Johnson’s palate. In his biography, Uncorked, he states, “it depends on whether or not you see wine as a drink or an a recreational substance. In a drink you look for something refreshing and satisfying without too loud a voice, not too intrusive on your food or your thoughts each time you take a sip.” Hence, the focus on high acid, less richly fruitful, and lower alcohol old world wines.
As noted, it is important to have a good working knowledge of wine in the first place, or if not, be interested in a challenge. Categories are by country and, if warranted, by a specific region in a country (see Bordeaux) and then alphabetical order. This can get confusing if you aren’t looking for something specific. For instance, in the category Italy you will see Brunello di Montalcino—a region, on the same page as Castello di Brolio—a producer. But, perhaps with the smallness of the book, one is made to squint in stern concentration and, thus, pay more attention to what one is reading.
The style and structure of the Pocket Wine Books are as consistent as their yearly releases. In but 2-4 lines, you can know the name and region a wine comes from; if it is red, white, rose, sweet, dry, etc.; how reputable it is; if it is an exceptionally good bargain; and what vintages should be drunk now, held, or have turned to muck-water. My very favorite aspect and what is most valuable in my eyes are the vintage reports. A person can spend thousands of dollars and tens of years on a single wine to find out how is ages, when to drink it, how the vintages compare to each other, and, while is it great fun to do this, there are a great many wines that I have not been able to taste from year to year. Rather than taking a toll on my pocket book, it’s quite convenient to just purchase this Pocket Book for $14.99.
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2010
Mitchell Beazley, 2010
Written By: Hugh Johnson
List Price: $14.99
Amazon Price: $10.19
Reviewed By: June Rodil
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