1997, Books, Non-Fiction

The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Choosing Wine (1997) by Philip Seldon

I did not finish this book.

The version I have is from 1997 and is way out of date. It is out of date in terms of pricing, which doesn’t matter, but also in terms of the way Seldon thinks about wine. I read a book about Canadian whisky recently (published within the last decade) and it was full of basics about how flavours appear in whisky. This is true, too, in the beer books I’ve read. There’s a little of that in this book by Seldon, but it’s spread out and also only selectively available. When I was reading the section on grape varietals, I noticed that some got really thorough descriptions of flavours and some of the how/why of those flavours, and others get a couple of sentences. I get that this is a “pocket” guide but the reason for me to read a book like this is learn the basics of the drink.

But I think I would have kept reading despite how out of date it was, except for some weird assertions he makes. The worst of these is “Some experienced professional tasters in the wine trade correctly point out that they do need to taste blind when they have confidence in their palate.” He says this in relation to ensuring the quality of a particular house/winery but it’s still absolute nonsense. This is not correct. And, if anything, those who do not understand the limitations of their own subjective experience are exactly the people who need blind tasting the most! What a bizarre thing to say. Maybe the most famous studies on how easily sommeliers can be fooled hadn’t come out yet when he wrote this but I can’t take a book seriously when the writer asserts something that ridiculous.

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