I was very pleased to receive at the end of last week a copy of Mike Steinberger’s new book – The Wine Savant – a guide to the new wine culture. It is due out in February – £10.99, $15.95, $17.95 Can.
Mike is one of several vibrant American writers, whose work I particularly enjoy reading. Others include Eric Asimov (New York Times), Tyler Colman (Dr Vino) and Jon Bonné (San Francisco Chronicle and New California). These American writers are part of the changed wine culture in the States where wine-drinking is now accepted and then some more. The days when wine was close on social suicide have gone. These writers and others have also helped to shape it.
In his introduction reflects on the pleasure of wine writing:
‘For me a big part of the pleasure of writing about wine is exploring the culture of oenophilia and connecting it to these broader themes. I think the finest wine writing combines helpful tips with insights into the people, places, politics, history and economics of wine, and that’s what I’ve attempted to do here. Many of my ideas are drawn from the nearly 10 years I spent as wine columnist for Slate magazine, the pioneering online journal, and some of the material is drawn from it, too. It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that Slate gave me the freedom to write about wine in a different style from that of other publications; the editors insisted on it, which was great, because I wanted to write about wine in a different way – I wanted the column to be punchy, entertaining, and slightly irreverent. I think it was all that, but it also helped steer readers to many exciting wines from around the world. You’ll find the same combination of spirited talk and practical insights in these pages.’
Here is a small textual taste from ‘The Beaune Supremacy: The Triumph of Burgundy
‘Above all, I suspect that Burgundy’s growing allure and Bordeaux’s corresponding decline is a statement about what people value in their glass. The wines we feel most passionate about are those that offer not only compelling aromas and flavours but a little romance and soul. too. It is hard to discern these qualities in most Bordeaux nowadays; however good the wines may taste, they have become so bound up in prices, scores and luxury marketing that the romance and soul have been drained out of them. For me, and I think for an increasing number of wine drinkers, what appeals about Burgundy is not only the excellence of the wines but the charm and character of the place itself.’
In the next paragraph Mike goes on to consider – What’s killing all the white Burgundies?