Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered
By Mike Veseth
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)
Mike Veseth has quite a penchant for writing books with expansive subtitles, which is extreme in itself. (His 2011 book on globalization was titled Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists.) It should also caution the reader that Veseth, despite being a wine economist, is not writing for an academic audience. Extreme Wine is written in the same chatty, informative style that Veseth uses in his popular Wine Economist blog.
Whereas Wine Wars focused on the ordinary wines that fill supermarket shelves, Extreme Wine explores the often extraordinary stuff that is being produced on the margins of the wine industry. It does so by shining a spotlight on some of the superlatives mentioned in the book’s subtitle by means of vivid, often quirky examples, such as the infamous Billionaire’s Vinegar, or the dog winery at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley. Veseth’s analyses are at their best in the first half of the book when he is on familiar economic ground: booms and busts, fame and fortune. In the second half, he goes astray into more journalistic territory, examining extreme wine people (including celebrities), extreme wine media (film, television and Internet) and extreme wine tourism.
Extreme Wine shows just how fascinating and dynamic the wide world of wine really is, with new appellations, wineries and winemaking techniques constantly emerging. So, if you are an explorer, the horizon is continually shifting, limitless. Yet, as a result of Mike Veseth’s journey to the extremes, all the mainstream wine in the middle ironically looks a lot more appealing.
Reviewed by Barnaby Hughes
Purchase Extreme Wine on Amazon.com
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