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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:01

Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers

Vintage Humor for Wine Loversby Malcolm Kushner

 

Malcolm Kushner and Associates

ISBN 978-097045893

168 pages, paperback, $9.95

 

vintage-humor-wine-lovers

Wine should be a joyous subject. Too often, it’s not—at least not in this country. In Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers, Malcolm Kushner offers levity, instead of tedium.

Organized into 13 chapters, the collection features writings of the author/editor, quips from persons well known and otherwise, and some anecdotes and jokes that may have been rewritten to make the situation fit in a wine context. Sometimes this doesn’t work, as in the case of the reference to a pricey old bottle of “Mouton Lafite Rothschild” found in storage in the Chicago Cubs clubhouse (presumably waiting forever for a pennant winning celebration). However, there are plenty of comments on wine and drink not lost in non sequitur.

Champagne references I liked were:

“The House of Lords is like a glass of Champagne that has stood for five days.”--Clement Attlee

“You’ve forgotten those June nights at the Riviera . . . the night I drank Champagne from your slipper—two quarts. It would have been more but you were wearing inner soles.”--Groucho Marx

Some of the comments are more fun for those who have some wine knowledge:

“The wine seems to be very closed-in and seems to have entered a dumb stage. Sort of a Marcel Meursault.”--Paul Winalski

Some have some depth or pith:

“I’ve taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has ever taken from me.”--Winston Churchill

“Not all men who drink are poets. Some of us drink because we aren’t poets.”--Unknown

Others just made me laugh:

“A mind of the caliber of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows.”--George Bernard Shaw

“Every time I learn something new it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Like that time I took that home wine-making course and forgot how to drive.”--Homer Simpson

“My uncle was the town drunk and we lived in Chicago.”--George Gobel

Longer pieces don’t lend themselves to description here. Some of them were pretty funny; others seemed to be trying too hard. A wonderful touch is the inclusion of many cartoons on the subject from The New Yorker.

There will be some who take offense at parts of his collection of wine-related humor, and not just at the jokes that involve drunkenness. Those people would be the ones with little sense of humor. What’s funny to one person may not be so to another, humor being a very personal matter. It gave me enough amusement to easily justify its price. Ten bucks could otherwise buy you a fairly pedestrian bottle of Chardonnay. And how many smiles would that put on your face?

Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers is available at Amazon.com,independent bookstores, and directly from the publisher.

 

--Reviewer Dan Clarke writes about wine and food and appreciates a good laugh about either.

Friday, 20 April 2012 13:30

The Cork Jester's Guide to Wine

The Cork Jester's Guide to Wine

by Jennifer Rosen

 

Clerisy Press

ISBN 1-57860-277-7

222 pages $14.95

 cork

Much of what is written about wine is tedious. This is not the case with Jennifer Rosen's work.

In her Cork Jester persona, the Denver Rocky Mountain News columnist has done the wine industry a service. Her Guide to Wine is an excellent primer for someone beginning to indulge a wine hobby. It's also worthwhile reading for the wine fan growing tired of books that are more arcane than amusing.

Learning more about wine probably enhances the subsequent pleasure of indulging in it. When that enhanced understanding comes in a form that's more fun than it is pedantic, that's a bonus.

Organized in sections addressing related topics, the book presents short pieces that read like—and many probably were—newspaper columns. Within the Labels section Rosen devotes four pages to “Animal Farm Wine is going to the dogs . . . and monkeys . . . and kangaroos.” Her take on wine marketers who assume that pictures of furry things will help move product, though not especially edifying, is still breezy reading,. Also amusing--but more useful--is “Cracking the Code Be a label sleuth,” in which she identifies the information on a label that really might be helpful to the potential purchaser.

In a chapter titled “The Restaurant Experience,” she provides background that could prove valuable. How does a restaurant price its wines and why are they so much more expensive than when buying retail? What questions can you ask a sommelier/server that will help him to help you? These hints don't come in an atmosphere of complete supplication, as Rosen skewers the all too frequent state of unpolished service. She doesn't necessarily want to know a waiter's name, doesn't care what his favorite menu items are and isn't keen to hear his “Good Choice” benediction.

Rosen is knowledgeable about wine and, at the very least, a clever writer. There were times when I thought she was reaching a tad too hard to turn a phrase in these 200-some pages. More frequent, however, were the times I thought something like, “now that's funny . . . and accurate.”

 

--reviewed by Dan Clarke

 

 

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