Category: Books

Book Review – Burgundy: Twisted Roots by Janet Hubbard

Who doesn’t love a good barrel sample or futures tasting? How about when a winemaker kindly sends you a “pre-release” of his latest bottle? Well today we get a little pre-taste of Janet Hubbard’s 3rd installment in the Vengeance in the Vineyard series, which isn’t scheduled to publish until September or October of this year. Ms. Hubbard was gracious enough to send me a hard copy of her proof and — Spoiler Alert! — I think Burgundy: Twisted Roots is the best of the bunch.

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Book Review – Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish by Janet Hubbard

I first “met” Janet Hubbard when I was interning at Bay Area literary agency Kimberley Cameron & Associates. I think it was about that time that she’d just published her first novel, Champagne: The Farewell, and was working towards completing this book, Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish. Though it was my job to promote her work all around social media, I never actually had the pleasure of reading any of her writing. Now, 5 years later, I’ve reconnected with Ms. Hubbard through my website and have had the pleasure of reading her second novel and (stay-tuned) a sneak-peek at her third.

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Book Review: Windows on the World Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly

If you’re into wine, even a little, then you’ve probably heard of Kevin Zraly — made famous as the wine director for Windows on the World restaurant (atop World Trade Center 1 from 1976 – 2001, then relocated to the Marriott Marquie Hotel in Times Square, NY). Here he, with the encouragement of owner Joe Baum, created the biggest wine list in the US and and sold more wine than any other restaurant in the world. Today, he’s most noted for his Windows on the World wine school, which, as of Fall 2016, ended its 40-year run. Unhappy with most other wine textbooks, Zraly created his own handbooks for his courses, had a colleague record his classes along with students’ questions and participation, all of which became the basis for the first Windows on the World wine course book in 1985. Each year, Zraly updates the information, and each year, he continues to make record sales. And I can see why…

This last year I’ve found myself investing in more and more wine literature (of all sorts) because, as Zraly says, the truth about wine is “The more you know about its origins, its character, its value, and its ability to add magic to an already magical dinner, the greater and more lasting your pleasure.”

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Book Review: The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil

I bought this book because, as a writer, I want to make sure I never run out of words — and also, I want to make sure I have a keen understanding of all the wine words that are out there. There are loads of wine reference books in the world, but I figured that something called The Wine Bible was bound to be one of the most complete. And it is — in more ways than one. Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible is a book for wine study and for wine fun.

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Book Review: Vertical by Rex Pickett

There’s been a lot of back and forth about Rex Pickett’s Vertical in the online world. The dispute between two versions, “which is ‘real?’” seems to have garnered a lot of controversy in both the literary and wine industries. The truth is there are two copies: an unedited “director’s cut,” if you will, written in total by the author Rex Pickett; and the publisher’s edited, re-written and re-published version, which is, reportedly, unapproved by the author. As a writer and an editor, I can fully understand both sides of the story. As a student of literature, I can only ask the question, “Which is the most complete story?” As an avid reader, I can only ask “Which is more enjoyable?” I’ve read both versions — Vertical and the sub-titled Passion and Pinot. At the end of the day, there was only one that struck me, one that I would go back to.

I’m not here to do a compare and contrast essay. Nor am I here to discuss what went on between author and publisher — I have no intention of starting or adding to any of the behind-the-scenes industry politics. What follows below is my honest review of one book, a book I really love, a book that, like a good wine, I want to share with friends. Vertical by Rex Picket, is a book that both teaches and entertains, challenges the reader mentally and emotionally, and provides insight into a world we may not otherwise understand.

Rex Pickett has kindly participated in this review, taking time to answer a few questions about his novel. Cheers, mates, and I hope you enjoy.

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