Refreshingly accessible and good-humored entrée into the world of fine wine.




At last, a wine writer who admits flat out she likes the alcohol part about as much as the “nose” and all the other esoteric nuances.

Award-winning journalist MacLean aims to welcome fellow enthusiasts, present and future, by sharing formative lessons and experiences in her own development. Often flirting with what amounts to iconoclasm in what is—often for marketing purposes—an over-ritualized, elitist milieu, the author suggests that expert tasters can lose a potentially broader audience with abstract imagery and flavor allusions. (One example: “Think of Naomi Campbell in latex . . .”) Why not instead, she suggests, talk more about the total experience of imbibing a fine wine in sensuous, personal terms, which she does without hesitation, more than once mentioning her thighs. MacLean also discusses the market-shaping power of wine scribes like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson, a British woman often at odds with Parker’s opinions and particularly his point system for scoring wines. Robinson publicly tastes wines “blind” (labels masked); Parker has them sent to his home, MacLean notes, but doesn’t push it and goes on to regularly reference Parker’s endorsements of wines she also likes. On some controversial points, she takes a clear stand: The kind of glass you drink from does make a significant difference, for instance, and she always decants her reds before serving. She soldiers through her apprenticeship in some of the world’s most heralded wine cellars, also doing duty as a retail clerk in a wine emporium of repute; the resulting knowledge is artfully imparted, if not particularly organized.

Refreshingly accessible and good-humored entrée into the world of fine wine.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58234-648-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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