1000 Best Wine Secrets

Several weeks ago a publisher contacted me, and by the looks of it, many other wine bloggers, offering a copy of the book 1000 Best Wine Secrets by Carolyn Hammond for review ( You can get it on Amazon for $11.01). I agreed and shortly after a copy arrived in the mail. Now, I’ve been meaning to write up the review for a while, but again, life got crazy, and I didn’t. However, I’ve noticed that Wino Sapien, Wine Outlook and Vivi have gotten their reviews up this week and it’s spurred me to get around to mine.

Organization: The book is divided into thirty chapters ranging from: Tasting Wine Like a Pro to Wine Myths. The short chapters make it easy to thumb right to the information you are looking for and to ignore information that isn’t relevant to your current question. Within each chapter, the tips are presented literally as a numbered list, from 1 to 1000. The tips in each chapter are a little disorganized for my taste, jumping in one chapter from a tip on how the best wines come from producers who are fastidious about every step of the wine making process (Tip 31) to a tip about respecting diversity in wines and not comparing (to paraphrase) apples to oranges (Tip 32). While both are good tips, I don’t think they are linked to one and other and the flow didn’t work for me in that respect.

Information: I did like that the information presented was in short blurbs. The book doesn’t pretend to be an end all for information about wine, instead, it (to make a bad joke) gets your palate wet and gives you a starting point to find out more if you are so inclined. Some of the more obscure facts were really interesting in an incredibly geeky way. Did you know that a newer Bordeaux house actually makes Bordeaux wine perfumes? (Tip 185)

Audience: At times I’m sure the audience for this book are those new to the wine world or those with a casual interest that would not merit purchasing a more in depth (and significantly more expensive) book such as the Oxford Companion to Wine. Then, it delves into California Cult Cabs (and give 4 or 5 tips on just Screaming Eagle) which I think might be a slightly off topic for those new to wine and looking to learn more about what various wines taste like and what sort of food goes well with them. But then again, it jumps back to a full page worth of tips on yellowtail (and we all know my opinion on the recent bottle of that I tasted) which makes me think that yes, it is a book for those just interested in getting their feet wet.

Overall: I think with a few exceptions that are probably personal to me in the organization, 1000 Best Wine Secrets accomplishes what it sets out to do. It presents an easily accesible, easy to read set of tips for those readers who are interested in wine and want to begin to test the waters. A reader’s curiosity could easily be piqued by any given tip to run and learn more about that particular wine or region. It’s a quick read and for $11 a decent value to those looking to get their feet wet and start with a user friendly book that doesn’t get bogged down in technical processes and debates about the merits of one Bordeaux producer over the other.

5 Responses

  1. Yes, it was seeing others’ posted reviews that spurred me into action. Good marketing ploy, huh? Now, if I could just get Jancis Robinson to send me a book…

  2. How do I get in touch with Carolyn Hammond? email?

  3. Farley-Or you can get Santa to bring you that one, as I did this year!

    Des-Do you have an email listed on your blog? I can send it to the publisher if so, I have no way to get in touch with Hammond herself.

  4. Yeah…you can send my email winedragon@gmail.com to the publisher. Thanks!

  5. No problem Des, I will do so this afternoon.

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