Accidental ConnoisseurPosted: 2007/07/30
Osborne, Lawrence. The Accidental Connoisseur: An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World. New York: Fair Point Press, 2004.
Even though I don’t know much about wine and I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if it weren’t for the challenge, I had to admit this: ILMAO. Lawrence Osborne has a great deal of fun with the punny, the witty, and the downright funny. Right off the bat, on page four, he had me giggling with “all drinks came under the Arabic word alcohol, essentially reducing them to a level of chemical sin, and none of them could be bought on Sunday.” Especially since we had downed a wine called Evil on vacation, thanks to Stacey. See below for the proof.
Even if you aren’t a wine drinker or even a wine liker, Osborne’s writing will amuse you. He has phrases that are somewhat identifiable as my own, “when the happiness of drinking overwhelms you, you cannot resist it” (p 21) and “Wine is 99% psychological, a creation of where you are and with whom” (p 22). This makes me sound wildly alcoholic, but bear with me a second. Think of any great seduction scene. Who is usually front and center (along with soft music and sexy candlelight)? Partners in crime – a wine bottle and two wine glasses. I found that a glass of wine is definitely more pleasurable when enjoyed in the presence of good friends and equally good scenery.
Seriously, I learned a lot from this short book. For example, how you space the vines in each row determines the complexity of a wine (according to one grower). The theory is plants with less crowding don’t have to compete for sunlight and growth space. They are more relaxed and get this, less stressed out. You see, the more stressed out a plant is, the more psychotic it is. It’s this aggrivated state that develops the complexity of flavor. Got it? I learned a new wine word, too: terroir. Makes me think of ‘terror’ but whatever.
Other favorite parts: “”what do you taste?” “Grapes,” I said. “Good. That’s what’s in it!”” (p 97)
“If wine is sex, ” I said, “this is like yoga.”
“Yoga? You’re saying it’s like yoga?”… I’m not sure I get you there. You mean athletic?”
“Ah, you mean American!” (p 101)
But, probably my favorite line is an obvious one, “Wine summons ghosts out of the cupboard” (p 228).
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter “A Holiday Shopping List” (p 115). It’s true that I would buy this for the wine lover that I know, only I don’t think he drinks and reads. Is that a problem?