Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier

Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier

From “one of the wine world’s most popular voices” (USA Today), a newly updated edition of her by-now classic introduction to wine, GREAT WINE MADE SIMPLE: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier, reflects up-to-the minute wine trends, including the burgeoning popularity of the Shiraz grape, new flavor maps, and much, much more. First published in 2000, Great Wine Made Sim...

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Title:Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier
Author:Andrea Immer Robinson
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Edition Language:English

Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier Reviews

  • Lauren

    Robinson did an excellent job organizing this book so as to make the daunting wine world more accessible to the average wine dabbler. The book starts with a simple introduction to "the Big Six" grape varietals, then progresses to a discussion on various commonly-used wine descriptors (oaky, acidic, tannic, herbal, floral, etc), and finally highlights major old world wine regions, with discussions on aging, decanting, food pairing etc. Throughout the book, she recommends several tastings so that

    Robinson did an excellent job organizing this book so as to make the daunting wine world more accessible to the average wine dabbler. The book starts with a simple introduction to "the Big Six" grape varietals, then progresses to a discussion on various commonly-used wine descriptors (oaky, acidic, tannic, herbal, floral, etc), and finally highlights major old world wine regions, with discussions on aging, decanting, food pairing etc. Throughout the book, she recommends several tastings so that the reader can experience, for example a classic Bordeaux versus a varietal cabernet that was inspired by the Bordeaux style or taste the difference between a cool weather reisling versus a moderate weather reisling. Happily, she gives the reader a reasonable range of price points for their tastings, from "cheap but good" options to "splurges."

    This book is perfect for a reader who wants the delicious world of wine to unfold in an accessible, logical manner. Robinson is the reader's wine-wise yet unpretentious buddy who readily helps out with difficult French pronunciations and demystifies phrases like DOC, village, non-vintage, grand cru, etc. This book will never collect dust on my shelf. With its many recommendations and admonishions about expensive-yet-mediocre wines, this book will accompany me on my trips to the wine shop for years to come.

  • ♡ Sassy ~ Amy ♡

    I know a lot about wine (NOT EVERYTHING), I have about 150 bottles hoarded from boutique wineries/bottles you can't just go to the store and buy. BUT this actually makes it simple to look up and use as a reference with all the information. It's one I will keep on my counter on my quick cookbook shelf... You know the one! The "I use them so much I am not looking in the bookshelf for it" shelf.

    It's totally organized, and does not add a bunch of useless fluff, like other wine books do. Not only is

    I know a lot about wine (NOT EVERYTHING), I have about 150 bottles hoarded from boutique wineries/bottles you can't just go to the store and buy. BUT this actually makes it simple to look up and use as a reference with all the information. It's one I will keep on my counter on my quick cookbook shelf... You know the one! The "I use them so much I am not looking in the bookshelf for it" shelf.

    It's totally organized, and does not add a bunch of useless fluff, like other wine books do. Not only is it for people who know nothing, it is for those who may have forgotten, some slight detail, or to give you other ideas.

  • Dana

    I was introduced to Andrea Robinson while reading Kevin Zrayl's Complete Wine Course book and decided to get a few of her books. This is the first in a 2 part series. I found this book a great joy to read and learned so much from Robinson. I am anxious to read the second book which focuses more on food and wine pairing. Her writing/teaching style is down to earth, easy reading and her love for wine and knowledge of it is joyfully and generously shared in this book. Highly recommended for those i

    I was introduced to Andrea Robinson while reading Kevin Zrayl's Complete Wine Course book and decided to get a few of her books. This is the first in a 2 part series. I found this book a great joy to read and learned so much from Robinson. I am anxious to read the second book which focuses more on food and wine pairing. Her writing/teaching style is down to earth, easy reading and her love for wine and knowledge of it is joyfully and generously shared in this book. Highly recommended for those interested in learning about wine. A very practical, helpful and enjoyable book.

  • Benjamin

    I enjoyed this book tremendously. I picked it up from the library immediately after a wonderful weekend spent in Sonoma on a wine tasting trip. After the realization that I didn't really understand the difference between a pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon (nor even knowing that these were the names of the individual grape varietals), I decided to school myself.

    This book took a very basic, easily approachable method of learning about wines. The author chose to base the lessons on the big six

    I enjoyed this book tremendously. I picked it up from the library immediately after a wonderful weekend spent in Sonoma on a wine tasting trip. After the realization that I didn't really understand the difference between a pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon (nor even knowing that these were the names of the individual grape varietals), I decided to school myself.

    This book took a very basic, easily approachable method of learning about wines. The author chose to base the lessons on the big six varietals: riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. Additionally, each lesson contained a tasting, complete with suggested wines for purchase. The tastings were designed to help the reader understand what is meant by terms often used to describe wine like tannins, oaky, buttery, and grassy, for example.

    I found one of the most useful concepts to be the author's "flavor map," which very generally divided the world's wine growing regions into areas of cool, moderate, and warm zones. A wine grown in a particular zone will generally be expected to have certain flavor and body characteristics. So, when you're considering a particular wine in a store or restaurant, you can pick one that you can generally expect to have body and flavors that you like, even if you do not know the particular grape variety.

    After reading this book, I have tasted many wines and have read much more about wine varietals and their growing regions. Overall, I found that the information in this book has been quite accurate and the flavor map concept has been helpful.

  • Jesse

    Even in the whirlwind of the 2010 summer move to San Mateo, Beth and I were excited about exploring California’s wine country. As soon as a few boxes were unpacked and we had some breathing space, I sent a note to Sheldon Menery asking for some tips on where to go. We had fun right from the beginning, thanks in no small part to Sheldon’s advice. Ever since, when I’ve had a wine question, I ping Sheldon through Facebook and avail myself of his knowledge. When I asked for book advice, he pointed w

    Even in the whirlwind of the 2010 summer move to San Mateo, Beth and I were excited about exploring California’s wine country. As soon as a few boxes were unpacked and we had some breathing space, I sent a note to Sheldon Menery asking for some tips on where to go. We had fun right from the beginning, thanks in no small part to Sheldon’s advice. Ever since, when I’ve had a wine question, I ping Sheldon through Facebook and avail myself of his knowledge. When I asked for book advice, he pointed without hesitation to the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly. I’m looking forward to reading it as soon as they make a real book version for it. Sadly, it’s only made with paper right now.

    With Windows on the World unavailable, I turned to a book by one of Zraly’s pupils. Great Wine Made Simple is very much a beginner’s book, but it has so far been an excellent place to further my meager knowledge of wine. The book is fun to explore because it teaches wine through a series of tastings, with easy-to-acquire wine lists to buy before each tasting and clear text about what to look for and expect throughout the tasting. With the book read, Beth and I are set up to do the first of the tastings that the book recommends.

  • Becky

    If you want a good book that will go into great detail about wines without inundating the reader in statistics and charts, then this is the book for you. I’m a wine enthusiast, and I still regularly consult this book. It also has a wine tasting party planner, which is simply excellent. She really has increased my understanding and ability to taste wine. I’ve learned so much, and it’s easy to just read a chapter here and there. It is also a fantastic reference book.

  • Adam Wiggins

    "For me, wine is a little daily celebration that I don't have to work hard to pull off."

    This book demystifies the topic of fine wine. Its purpose is not education for its own sake, but rather to arm the reader to select wines they'll like, and then to maximize enjoyment of its drinking.

    Key terms:

    Body - A textural sensation, where light body is like skim milk and full body is like cream. Riesling and Pinot Noir are light-bodied, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc are medium-bodied, and Syrah and Chardo

    "For me, wine is a little daily celebration that I don't have to work hard to pull off."

    This book demystifies the topic of fine wine. Its purpose is not education for its own sake, but rather to arm the reader to select wines they'll like, and then to maximize enjoyment of its drinking.

    Key terms:

    Body - A textural sensation, where light body is like skim milk and full body is like cream. Riesling and Pinot Noir are light-bodied, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc are medium-bodied, and Syrah and Chardonnay are full-bodied.

    Crisp - Describes high acidity. The cooler the climate the grapes are grown in, the higher the acidity. This is just like other fruit: crisp, tart, tangy fruits such as apples and pears grow in cool climates; peaches and oranges come from medium climates; and pineapples and mangos come from the warmest areas.

    Oaky - The taste of oak absorbed when wine is aged in oak barrels. Often desirable because it enhances all the natural flavors of the wine. Toasted oak (fire charring the inside of the barrel) gives additional toasty, smoky, or sweet flavors.

    Tannins - Tannins in wine create a dry, tacky feeling inside the mouth. (One drinker said: "it feels like the inside of my mouth has been wallpapered in velvet and suede") Tannins are why wine has a reputation for pairing well with cheese and meat (especially steak): the proteins coat the tongue and let the tannins slide over it.

    Structure - Body plus tannins equals structure.

    Complexity - "At first sip, the wine should command all your sensory attention, putting every synapse through its paces with scents, tastes, and texture."

    I didn't find the numerous chapters devoted to winegrowing regions particularly useful. You could get most of what this book has to offer by reading only the first four or five chapters.

    The later chapters do have some helpful bits, such as the importance of the right equipment. For example, it explains that good wine glasses have thin rims so that you pour the wine into your mouth, vaporizing the scents and increasing the olfactory component. A thick rim on the glass will cause you to suck the wine in, which means the air goes down your windpipe instead of into your nose and thereby reduces the scent, which is a huge component in experiencing the flavor.

    Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys wine.

  • Francesco

    By all means a great book. Good the examples to familiarize with wines. But history behind the wines is extremely important. And on this she performs poorly. There are quite a few mistakes about italian wines. She should have learned better from her master Zraly. Namley it is simply not true that Italians ( quote )"with extremely rare exceptions just do not care about Italian wines". ( pg.213. As a matter of fact we have many wonderful white wines and many reagions are proud precisely of these.

    By all means a great book. Good the examples to familiarize with wines. But history behind the wines is extremely important. And on this she performs poorly. There are quite a few mistakes about italian wines. She should have learned better from her master Zraly. Namley it is simply not true that Italians ( quote )"with extremely rare exceptions just do not care about Italian wines". ( pg.213. As a matter of fact we have many wonderful white wines and many reagions are proud precisely of these. See Lazio from Frascati, Zesti, Grechetto, est est est. In Campania , Greco di Tufo, Falanghina (one of the oldest wines...). Or even the Verdicchio. Just to mention a very few. She should verify more her informations before writing. Another mistake is about the origin of the word fiasco. It is simply not true that it is due to the poor quality of the wine served in the fiasco. The ethimology is very different. Online the various attempt but surely her version is the most nonsensical. So, be careful with her history information. Hope she does not make the same mistakes with other chapters. And much less is true that in the 70s the wine was of poor quality or hit the rock bottom. At that time, like today, you may have found different qualities. Please.....!!!!! And

  • Randall Russell

    I felt like this book contained a lot of good information and would be quite interesting and useful for someone who's starting out in the world of wine. However, for someone like me who's been tasting wine for a lot of years, this book was perhaps a little too basic. That's the reason that I only rated it 3 stars. I did really like the author's approach of doing a series of tastings, and her recommendations on how to structure those tastings. I also thought that the wines she recommended to choo

    I felt like this book contained a lot of good information and would be quite interesting and useful for someone who's starting out in the world of wine. However, for someone like me who's been tasting wine for a lot of years, this book was perhaps a little too basic. That's the reason that I only rated it 3 stars. I did really like the author's approach of doing a series of tastings, and her recommendations on how to structure those tastings. I also thought that the wines she recommended to choose, were actually very good, and that was the thing that I found most interesting about the book.

  • Mark

    This book took me a few tries to get through, which is something of a shame... it's a bit hard to read, since it's patterned something like a "For Dummies" book. Andrea (Immer) Robinson actually writes well and engagingly, so this might be a format forced on her by the editor/publishing house.

    Despite the awkward format that interrupts what could have been a smooth flow of ideas and information, there's still a lot to like about "Great Wine Made Simple." In broad strokes, it paints the overall pi

    This book took me a few tries to get through, which is something of a shame... it's a bit hard to read, since it's patterned something like a "For Dummies" book. Andrea (Immer) Robinson actually writes well and engagingly, so this might be a format forced on her by the editor/publishing house.

    Despite the awkward format that interrupts what could have been a smooth flow of ideas and information, there's still a lot to like about "Great Wine Made Simple." In broad strokes, it paints the overall picture of the world of wine, and gives the reader and budding oenophile (wine-lover) some important tools for understanding the map (literally). There are little "ah-HA!" bits scattered throughout, and one would have to be thoroughly versed in wine already not to gain something from reading.

    If you're not intending to taste the wines (and why not, then?) there's no real reason to go through this one... but if all you know about wine is that you want to know a little more, this might be a good starting point.

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