Another collection of the acclaimed writer’s wine journalism, dominated by short pieces for the Wall Street Journal, some of which seem to have been decanting for too long.
Though McInerney has achieved more renown as a novelist (How It Ended, 2009, etc.), many readers and fellow writers might be more envious of his side job, as a wine columnist for House & Garden (where many of the older, longer and more substantial of these pieces appeared) and then for the Wall Street Journal. As someone who admits that he “had a reputation as a party animal; no one had ever accused me of being a connoisseur,” he brings plenty of knowledge and experience with wine to the beat, though he’s still more interested in the sort of expensive pleasures in which most folks can’t afford to indulge than in a consumer-guide approach. “Is any of this relevant to the average wine lover, as opposed to the wealthy collector?” he writes at one point. “I think it is, in several ways. Just as developments in Formula One race cars eventually inform the engineering of the cars the rest of us drive every day, just as haute couture trickles down into the wardrobes of those who have never attended a fashion show”—and so on. “Yes, there’s some wine porn here,” he confesses, though much of the most interesting writing concerns the people who make wine, those who love it and the places where it flourishes rather than the actual experience of drinking it. The book also chronicles the maturation of the writer’s appreciation, from the “flash and flesh” of “big ripe fruit bombs” to more subtle and sophisticated rewards.
Much of the material here sounds like it was more fun to research than to write or read.