Wine Book Club, Fourth Edition: Tasting Pleasure



By Kori ~ August 26th, 2008.

Thank you for joining us for the fourth “virtual meeting” of the Wine Book Club where bloggers and wine lovers all over the world come together for book reviews and discussions every other month after reading a selected text. Our host for this edition is Farley Walker of Wine Outlook and the text she selected was Tasting Pleasure: Confessions of a Wine Lover by Jancis Robinson.

Jancis Robinson is one of the most well-known and well-respected wine writers in the world. She is editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, The Financial Times wine columnist, and has authored a number of wine books. She is also a Master of Wine and has received numerous international wine awards.

Tasting Pleasure is basically a glorified autobiography, and the information is a little dated since it was published eleven years ago. Much of the book is devoted to recounting tasting events where she tasted great old Bordeaux and Burgundy. While it is interesting information, it offers little value to those of us who have no access to those kinds of wines. I personally enjoyed her How to Taste book much more than this one.

Ms. Robinson considers herself a wine lover, her love affair with wine ignited by a single, outstanding, and still memorable bottle of Red Burgundy. She believes the two most significant attributes of a great wine are the range of nuances in its smell and the wine’s length.

Since I believe strongly in blind tasting, I was pleased to read the following statement that Ms. Robinson made on the topic:

“Most of us consumer writers on wine acknowledge that the best way of testing a wine’s real quality is to taste it blind with its peers, and we try to base our recommendations on that process as often as possible.”

During her first years as a consumer wine writer, she felt like no one took her seriously, so she just wrote what she thought, however flippant or iconoclastic, and that approach ended up making her stand out from her peers.

In this book, Ms. Robinson states that it is her general philosophy of wine that it should provide as much pleasure for as many people at as low a cost as possible. Her philosophy dovetails nicely with our philosophy here at Wine Peeps: We believe that it is not good enough just to find good wine but to find good wine at a fair price. Later, she went on to say that much of the thrill of wine in general is discovering bottles that cost a fraction of the universally acclaimed greats but which give every bit as much pleasure. The Wine Peeps couldn’t agree more which is why we provide a QPR rating for every wine we rate, and we absolutely love it when we are able to share with our readers a wine that receives a 5-bangs-for-your-buck rating.

She seems most enthusiastic about German Riesling and Red Bordeaux wines in her personal collecting. She does not have much U.S. wine in her cellar because the strength of the U.S. dollar made it too expensive during her prime collecting years. (Of course, that may be changing today with the weakness in the dollar). Speaking of wine collecting, my favorite line in the book was:

“I don’t want to manage my cellar. I want to drink it.”

Now I can drink to that! Cheers, Jancis.

Can’t decide if you want to read this book or not? If you would like to learn more about Jancis Robinson and live vicariously through her recounts of hob-knobbing with the biggest names and best bottles in the world of wine, then head on over to Amazon and pick yourself up a copy. If you are looking to learn more about the basics of wine or for a wine guide, then I would recommend you taking a look at one of her other books instead.

If you’ve already read Tasting Pleasure, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.


Filed under: Wine Book Club, Wine Books

Reader's Comments

  1. Wine Outlook » Blog Archive » Round Up For Tasting (and Reading) Pleasures | September 2nd, 2008 at 8:25 am

    [...] Kori from Wine Peeps could relate to Jancis’s belief in tasting blind as much as possible and also in the fact that wine should be enjoyed without costing an arm and possibly a leg. Kori points out that “Her philosophy dovetails nicely with our philosophy here at Wine Peeps: We believe that it is not good enough just to find good wine but to find good wine at a fair price.” She also points out one of my favorite lines, as well: I don’t want to manage my cellar. I want to drink it. A lovely sentiment indeed. However, Kori would have chosen Robinson’s How to Taste over this one, as Tasting Pleasure is more of a “glorified autobiography” with info that’s “a little dated since it was published eleven years ago.” I can understand where she’s coming from with that and how the recounting of the many great bottles “offers little value to those of us who have no access to those kinds of wines” (though I personally liked to read about them for that very reason). Kori’s points are valid, and when choosing an author such as Jancis Robinson–who has so many books behind her–one could debate all day long which one to examine. However, as wine bloggers, we have that desire to write on some level, and as someone who desires to write on more levels, I appreciated her version of how she made it happen. [...]

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