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Winos! Must read this! Blind Book Review: Matt Kramer’s “True Taste, The Seven Essential Wine Words”

on 22/06/15 at 4:39 pm


SF-Intl_Wine-Competition-2013_Ron-Washam“Knowing Matt Kramer, I was pretty sure the seven essential wine words were “true, taste, the, seven, essential, wine, words.” So I didn’t feel the need to actually read his latest wine book, “True Taste: The Seven Essential Wine Words.” Kramer is often referred to, at least by his publisher, as the “great demystifier of wine.” I’d say this is close. Kramer is actually the great defroster of wine, relentlessly blowing hot air at his otherwise impenetrable subject.

“True Taste” is not a very long book, it’s a mere 128 pages. Which made it particularly disappointing not to read for my Blind Book Review. Matt Kramer’s magnum opus is “Making Sense of Wine.” “True Taste” is his .375ml opus. A mere half-book to which I shall apply my legendary half-wit.

Matt Kramer has been writing about wine for 40 years. Yeah, I know, seems a lot longer. He is best known for his column in Wine Spectator where he tries to educate James Laube about wine every single issue, a Mr. Kotter to Laube’s Vinnie Barbarino—hopeless but amusing. Wine Spectator uses words, but sells numbers. Their seven essential wine words are “lifestyle, advertising, scores, vanity, paywall, lavish and rich.” Kramer’s “True Taste” selects seven different essential wine words. From an overpaid wine columnist for Wine Spectator, the book is a forlorn cry for help.

Of course, we all want to know what the Seven Essential Wine Words are. I’d guess, but I’m pretty sure Bashful and Dopey aren’t among them, though I’ve had wines that are both. I knew that whatever the seven words turned out to be, they’d be vague and vinously indefinable. In order to demystify, after all, one has to mystify first. The wine trade loves to throw words around like “balance” and “terroir,” and then argue endlessly about what they mean. After all, when there is no precision to terms, no agreed upon definition, it’s easy to claim your wine has it. It’s like putting “Reserve” on your wine label–OK, it’s Reserve if you say so. In my 40 years (yeah, I know, it seems a lot longer), I’ve never once had a winemaker say, “My wine is really good, but it has the balance of a dead Wallenda.” Nope. Everyone knows balance, and everyone knows terroir, and if you don’t, well, then, you’re the asshole, not the clowns who can’t actually define it. Now Kramer adds seven more words to that list. Gee, thanks.”