The self-proclaimed booze journalist chronicles his 15,000-mile cross-country journey in search of wine knowledge.
This was no aimless ramble. Former Playboy nightlife columnist Dunn (Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation, and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour, 2011, etc.) was on a quest to gather information for his keynote talk at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, the “annual high-net-worth Northern California bacchanal…where the 1 percent of the 1 percent gather every year to sip ridiculously rarified wine and swap stories about how you can’t get a good yacht crew these days.” Following the death of his brother and a breakup with his girlfriend, the author decided he needed a change of scenery, so he set off to “free [him]self of the gorgeously fucked-up bubble that is Los Angeles” and travel to wineries around the country. The concept is solid: visit unexpected winemaking regions and learn from the vintners. Dunn effectively shines a light on unusual spots in many states that readers may not associate with wine production. But between his stories about the wineries, Dunn force-feeds readers stories of his turbulent childhood, his drunken escapades, his adolescent feelings about women and sex, and his dislike of hipsters. The author seems to understand how his persona comes off on the page: upon arrival at a North Carolina winery, he writes, “I chewed on a piece of straw for added effect because I also dabble in being a dick.” Dunn is an experienced columnist who has a wide knowledge of alcoholic beverages, and at times, when he drops the snarky attitude, this expertise peeks through—but not often enough. Throughout the narrative, the author sprinkles tips and tidbits about wine and its consumption—e.g., tasting terms, wine production basics, or how to become a master sommelier. Some are worthwhile, but many, marred by Dunn’s sophomoric humor, are not.
A book that could have been an eye-opener, but the miles become wearisome. Better off staying home with a nice bottle of wine.