Every wine has a story. In this collection of elegantly written essays from the past 30 years, updated with a new introduction and endnotes, renowned author Gerald Asher informs wine enthusiasts with insightful, engrossing accounts of wines from Europe and America that offer just as much for those who simply enjoy vivid evocations of people and places. Asher puts wine in its context by taking the reader on a series of discursive journeys that start with the carafe at his elbow.
In his introduction, Asher says, "Wine . . . draws on everything and leads everywhere." Whether the subject is a supposedly simple red wine shared in a Parisian caf or a Napa Valley Cabernet tasted with its vintner, every essay in A Carafe of Redis as pleasurable as the wines themselves.
The book is an assemblage of articles first published in the Gourmet magazine, written mostly in 90s. Some of the contents is outdated, but the author provided relevant updates at the end of each article. Gerald Asher is knowledgeable and passionate about vines and wines, so the book makes for an enjoyable read. Unfortunately it is a less enjoyable listen, because the narrator took it upon himself to provide French, Italian, German and other wine makers with mock up accents. It is not a fictional book. What is the added value of a quote from a French guy being delivered with a heavy accent? Imagine listening to a book about physics where a quote from Albert Einstein is provided with a heavy German accent, and you have to put in a special effort to understand what he's saying. It's the same here, only with quoting French, Italian, German and Spanish winemakers.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Whenever the narrator comes to a quote from some French winemaker or aficionado, and there are quite a few in this book, he reads it in a fake French accent that sounds like something from Inspector Clouseau or perhaps a Monty Python sketch. He takes a similar tack with quotes from Italians, where he sounds like Joe Dolce doing his Shaddap you face...
Without the grating fake accents this book would have easily made a 4 star listening experience in my view.
Would you be willing to try another one of P. J. Ochlan’s performances?
No. I mean, he's fine when he's not putting on accents, but the Inspector Clouseau routine is really quite awful.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
The writing is great. I should have read it in print.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book is very informative yet remains entertaining with a light anecdotal format. The narrator does a wonderful job, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the world of wine.
Asher takes the reader on a spectacular history-road-trip of wine in France, Spain, Italy, California— going back ages. This is not a "where-this-wine-comes-from-blah-blah" kind of book— no, there are all sorts of dirty politics and criminal activities.
I hope the author was enjoying a glass while he wrote this book.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful