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Good, Better, Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines - Book Review

Making Affordable Wines Accessible

by Carolyn Evans Hammond
(Alpha Books, 2010)

Good, Better, Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines

Most wine books tend to focus on unique small-production wines from boutique wineries. But Good, Better, Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines, ranks top sellers in the under $5, $8, $11 and $15 category for every major varietal, from white blends and Chardonnay to rosés and sparkling wine. These are the kinds of bottles (think The Little Penguin Chardonnay and Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon) that serve as a go-to on pasta night for many Americans. They are readily found at major grocery stores and have easily recognizable labels, but don’t get much press or respect.

Sommelier Carolyn Evans Hammond tasted best-selling brands like Beringer, Kendall-Jackson and Woodbridge (most wines in the book sold no fewer than 4.8 million bottles in 2007) to rank 250 wines which would be widely available to readers. She compares grapes to grapes and offers three wines in each price range with tasting notes and alcohol content. The selections for the Cabernet Sauvignon section, for instance, feature familiar, ubiquitous names such as Fetzer and Yellow Tail. None of the wines have specific vintages listed since they are available every year. However, Hammond does include food pairing suggestions, the best serving temperatures and fun facts like how music affects the tasting of wine.

While the book does give suggestions for affordable, easily obtainable wines, a seasoned wine drinker looking for unique wine recommendations will not find it here. But for those searching for reliable quality wines at economy prices, this pocket-size guide will provide just that.

Price: $9 on Amazon.com.


Reviewed by Megan Sebestyen

(Updated: 07/30/13 MG)

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