A few months ago I read a very good review in the New York Times Book Review on this book. I consciously added the title to the long list of books I should buy and read – I repeat, buy and read. I never buy a book if I know I won’t have time to read it. It makes me feel very very guilty!
In the late afternoon of last Friday, I had an hour of freedom and was enjoying a warm and clear sky. It was the perfect conditions to walk to my favorite bookstore – just to browse since I already have a pile of 3 books to read. And bingo! Here it is: a pile of A Hedonist in the Cellar sitting on the table near the entrance door. I started reading the back cover and then opened the book. And I was lost: chuckling every two pages and enjoying myself tremendously while reading a paragraph on California Chardonnay that “had much in common with a vanilla milk shake or, figuratively speaking, with the then [the mid-1990s] reigning queen of Baywatch, Pamela Anderson.” You can’t resist the first sentence of the chapter on Pinotage grape: “Nelson Mandela, Charlize Theron, and Pinotage are among South Africa’s distinctive contributions to global culture”, just before we learn that Pinotage, an hybrid of “noble Pinot Noir” and “mulish Cinsault” is like “the love child of Jean Seberg and Congressman Bob Bart”.
Wittiness doesn’t make a book but can decide the potential reader to buy it -which is my case – and I read it over the weekend. For the first time, I read a wine critic without being bored. I actually learned a lot of things on Austrian and German wines – and their mysterious labels, on New Zealand and Australian wines, met fascinating characters in Spain or Italy, shared some touching or funny stories. An immensely entertaining, brilliant and very informative book on wine and mankind. Do I recommend it? Yes!