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Hailed by the Wine Advocate as "perhaps the most gifted of all wine writers writing today," Jancis Robinson has been voted the Wine Writer's Wine Writer by her peers, dubbed "the undisputed mistress of the kingdom of wines" by France's Madame Figaro, and won the 1995 Wine Literary Award of the Wine Appreciation Guild. Holding the prestigious rank of Master of Wine, Robinson lectures and judges all over the world, and recently hosted a ten-part PBS series Jancis Robinson's Wine Course. She also edited The Oxford Companion to Wine, which won every major wine book award in 1995--including the Julia Child Cookbook Award (Wine, Beer, or Spirits) and The James Beard Book Award--and which has been praised by Frank Prial in The New York Times as "easily the most complete compendium of wine knowledge assembled in modern times," and by Anthony Dias Blue as "one of the definitive reference books on the subject."
Now, in Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes, Robinson provides wine aficionados with a handy, on-the-spot guide to the most central aspect of wine making--the grapes themselves. Here are over 850 grapes, ranging from such widely acclaimed vines as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc, to economically important if less distinguished vines such as Airen, Grenache, Muller-Thurgau, Trebbiano, Syrah, and Rkatsiteli. Robinson offers a fact-filled introduction--discussing everything from rootstocks and wine blends, to vine pests and disease--and glossary of technical terms (from botrytis and carbonic maceration, to fanleaf and foxy, to skin, sugars, tannins, and yield). She then examines the world's grape varieties in alphabetical order, describing the basic characteristics of the wine produced by the grape (dry, sweet, high or low acidity, the bouquet), its likely quality, the regions that produce the best wine, and, if a blended wine, the blends that yield the best results. (As an added guide to the wine a grape might produce, the Guide includes an easy-to-use visual aid: a horizontal bar with a band which shows the range of quality, from ordinary to superb.) Robinson also shares much fascinating wine history, her deep insight into the wine industry, and more important, her own judgment on a wine. And Robinson does not hedge in judging a wine: discussing Carignan, France's most planted red wine, she comments "Its wine is high in everything--acidity, tannins, color, bitterness--but flavor and charm. This gives it the double inconvenience of being unsuitable for early consumption yet unworthy of maturation." And for Trebbiano, the most planted white grape in Italy (and with Ugni Blanc, which is the name of the grape in France, the second most planted white grape in the world), Robinson notes "the word Trebbiano in a wine name almost invariably signals something light, white, crisp, and uninspiring."
Perhaps most important, this portable book can be used in the store as a buying guide. With Robinson's Guide, simply find the grape variety on the label--or, if not listed, turn to Robinson's unique Grapes Behind the Names appendix in the back--look up the entry on that grape, and you will discover everything you need to know to make an informed decision to buy or pass. With Jancis Robinson by your side, you can evaluate a bottle of wine on the spot, no matter where, when, or by whom it has been produced.
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