I like a glass or two of wine, but I’m certainly no fanatic and definitely not knowledgeable; I know the reds I like and the whites I don’t. Yet, surprisingly, this tremendous coffee-table book from Michael Amon seems written for me – as well as for novices, those with significant knowledge, and even genuine authorities on the subject alike. Simply put, Drinking and Knowing Things is a book which is ideal for everyone, save your average teetotal. And it is wonderful; I really enjoyed it.
Michael offers his undoubtedly expert advice about his favourite wines, and the information he shares is comprehensive, from the grapes to the climate, the price, the perfect culinary accompaniment, and even which obscure little wine stores stock the rarer ones. And, in case you’re wondering, there are plenty of suggestions here for under $10-15 – as well as occasional bottles for thousands of dollars. He has put a substantial amount of work into this book, not just his research prior to and whilst writing it, but also for the past twenty years of his life generally; this grand project is a genuine labour of love, and Michael’s in-depth writing is something that can only be achieved by a genuine passion for the subject. Additionally, it is entertaining and engaging. Mike brings an enormous slice of personality and cheeky, sardonic and sometimes laugh out loud humour to this work, and there is no stuffy pretentiousness you might expect from a book about wine – he cusses like a sailor, yet writes utterly eloquently; the book is filled with his urban vernacular and references to a gritty pop culture. This really brings the topic into the realm of real people, rather than the pompous dicks who traditionally populate this arena – and the best thing is that Mike’s expertise probably puts the latter to shame. I admit, sometimes the vernacular felt a touch out of place, but you need to consider the roots of this book, which is adapted from the author’s own weekly recommended wine blog (hence its 52 chapters), where the language may have felt a touch more suited. But, to clarify, I really like Mike’s writing style; it genuinely caters to everyone, rich or poor, cultured or superficial – Mike has nothing to prove to any of them.
I never imagined I would find myself hooked by a reference book on wine, yet here I was, engrossed, reading for hours and learning the whole time. If you like an occasional glass of wine, or like to cook, or genuinely just want to know a little more about wines generally, this is a book I strongly recommend you have on your bookshelf in a printed format. Obviously, being an ARC, it was necessary for me to read from cover to cover, which the author himself admits may not be the best way to do so, but I absolutely intend to keep a copy, as I would love to refer from time to time to Michael’s recommendations when cooking. On that note, I would perhaps have liked to see a functional appendix or two, to enhance its credential as a reference guide, in particular categorizing the wines by food accompaniment (as well as perhaps a couple of other categories, such as recommendations by region when travelling). I know there are many wine books which offer this, but none of them are like this one – why can’t we have both? Mike does touch on it at the end, with a brief mention of what goes well with caviar, but the likelihood I’m ever going to be buying or serving caviar is very slim; I want to see at a glance what goes well with a Balti, or a marinara sauce, or a Sunday roast.
But, this is my only real gripe about a book which, I admit, caught me by surprise, and has piqued my interest. I advise that you get your own reference copy. Wonderful.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: michael-amon reference guide wine non-fiction