July 27, 2009

Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine by Simon Hoggart

By In Drink Books

Douglas dismissed this new book with little more than a sniff and a nod and a muttering of ‘tasting notes’ after barely a flick through a few pages. Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine
does actually look like that; especially with the sub-title of 100 Wines For The Discerning Drinker.

But there is little mention of specific vintages (something that will date a wine book quicker than anything) and few descriptive wine tasting notes, although these do punctuate the writing. Instead little snippets of a wine tasters encounter enliven each recommendation.

For example under a listing for a McLaren Vale Shiraz is a little tale concerning a disgruntled Belgian wine dealer who was embarrassed by failing to spot a Bordeaux when served blind, declaring it a Pinot Noir, under Château d’Angludet Hoggat relates his encounter with a “gnarled old winemaker” who spoke bitterly about the “kind of people they were now obliged to employ at harvest time. “Students!” he said. “In the old days we could still get local people. For breakfast they had sausage and a bottle of wine. This lot expect – and here the greatest scorn came into his voice – croissants and coffee!”.

Some descriptions offer a little snippet of wine knowledge, “The wine is around 40 per cent Merlot and slightly less Cabernet Sauvignon, which means it’s softer than, say, most Medocs” (Mulderbusch Faithful Hound from Stellenbosch) others an indication of why the wine is included “He makes only 25 hectolitres of wine for every hectare of land – much less than is allowed, very roughly half the local average – and it is gorgeous, being robust, warm and with that heady whiff of perfume that lifts a wine from being something nice to swig into something delightful to sip” (Hegarty Minervois, Languedoc).

Simon Hoggart is wine correspondent for the Spectator and has been running the magazine’s wine club since 2001. Simon is also a frequent broadcaster on vinous topics. His is also parliamentary sketch-writer and weekly columnist for the Guardian and author of 16 other books on many and varied subjects that have attracted his sharp focus and sardonic wit. But this is his first book on wine.

The Warwick Estate Pinotage “However some people – a minority, to be sure – liked the muddiness. Anothony Mitchell of El Vino’s once told me that he had a customer who complained about his Pinotage. “Haven’t you got anything muddier?” he asked in the manner of someone in a grubby raincoat asking for something stronger in a Soho porn store

Life’s Too Short to Drink Bad Wine by Simon Hoggart is published on the 15th September 2009. It is available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk for £11.69.

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Top :: Comments

  1. Dylan July 27, 2009

    The anecdotes applied to the wine make for some good fun. Thanks for sharing some of those excerpts.

  2. Mark July 27, 2009

    lol My in-laws have that quote above their kitchen sink. Very true, why drink bad wine if you don’t have to? There is so much selection out there, a little research goes a long way.

  3. Elizabette Rencontres July 28, 2009

    I am french and I have laugh writting this article.
    This book looks cool.
    Mark, you are totally right !!!

  4. Peter May July 28, 2009

    Presumably the lack of vintage information is because the book is a collection of items he’s written over the years.
    The ‘muddy pinotage’ piece was in Simon’s Guardian column eight years ago.
    Nothing wrong with collecting old material in one book but the title gives the expectation that the book is recommending current wines.

  5. Douglas August 17, 2009

    Sorry for being curt!