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Secrets of the Sommeliers - Wine Book Review

How to Think and Drink Like the World's Top Wine Professionals

by Rajat Parr and Jordon MacKay
(Ten Speed Press, 2010)

Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World's Top Wine Professionals

Sommeliers have, since their emergence in the late 1800’s, undertaken an immense task: to provide customers with a positive wine experience. Secrets of the Sommeliers, the new book by Rajat Parr, wine director of the Mina Group (boasting seventeen restaurants, among them the flagship Michael Mina Bellagio in Las Vegas), offers an enthralling look into the lives of these wine gurus including their insights, advice and entertaining stories on a mélange of topics from buying and storing wine to pairing it with food.

The book features some of Parr’s own observations on his trade like the books and bits of advice that taught him the most during his career. He offers his opinions, as well as those of the wine community, on topics such as how to successfully evaluate wine, so readers can understand how to think like a wine professional.

The book also encompasses the origin of sommeliers, mentioning the legacies left by pioneers like Larry Stone, Daniel Johnnes and Fred Dame. Parr includes modern-day professionals as well, citing stories and memorable advice from people he has met in the business.

It is hard to pull yourself away from the history and lessons about wine. All of the classifications of varietals, discussions of vineyards and education about pairing are interwoven with anecdotes in a way that makes the whole book feel like a story rather than a lesson. Impressive photographs reveal the people and places behind what Parr considers the best wines. Oenophiles on any level could learn from this exploration into the inside world of wine and the people who present it.

Reviewed by Megan Sebestyen

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