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Book Review: ‘The Persistent Observer’s Guide to Wine’ by J.P. Bary

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WineGuideThe Persistent Observer’s Guide to Wine by J.P. Bary is a guide geared to enlighten wine lovers. As an Italian, I have had wine at the center of my table, for every meal, all of my life, so there is no surprise I jumped at the opportunity to read this book.

In all honesty, when I picked up the book I thought I would be reading a lot of what I already knew. What a refreshing surprise to discover how little I know about the elixir I have been tasting since my childhood, from homemade wine in Sicily to my favorites from around the world.

Bary does a great job deconstructing for the reader the entire process of the development and enjoyment of wine tasting. I say development because he takes us on a self-discovery trip to find our unique palates right at the beginning. Then he moves on to all the other aspects of wine: selection, composition structure and types, grapes, aging process, etc. What us impressive, however, is how Bary makes this guide personal for the reader even as he focuses on the individuality and uniqueness of the whole wine experience.

Once in a while life gives us opportunities to experience what we read. As I was reading The Persistent Observer’s Guide to Wine, I was invited to go wine tasting in the Texan vines in Fredericksburg, and so I decided to take the book with me and experience Bary’s little guide by focusing on my own palate. I also brought a selection of cheeses and meats to pair with a bottle, focusing on the wine’s taste with the foods’ textures while we had a picnic lunch during the wine tasting. I was also able to compare the different vineyards and wines based on the aging and even the age of the vineyard itself. To my surprise I discovered I actually liked the newer wine better as it would remind me of Sicily’s homemade table wine. I had the most comprehensive wine tasting experience thanks to Bary’s little wine guide.

The Persistent Observer’s Guide to Wine by J. P. Bary is definitely the result of true life experience and research paired with true passion. It is a real, personal, and useful book that will enrich the wine experience for all who drink wine.

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About Susan Vio

  • bliffle

    Wine is the best drink, at least for me at this remove. I enjoy many of them (usually red, I find whites too beguilingly intoxicating so I avoid them now), especially French wines and homemade wines. For several years I made my own wines (and beers) from local grapes and from imported juice. It adds immeasurably to wine tasting when you have made your own. The experience is invaluable. You can easily make good wine for about a dollar that put some well-known wines at $20 to shame. At least that’s the way it was when I was actively wine making.

    I used to be a big fan of Beaucastel, and fondly remember the 85 when I think of it. At my friends house near Rodez I often had Petrus and Sauternes, and others whose names evade me right now. At my friends in Loire near Angier we had wonderful wines, usually low-alcohol, 10-11% or so, which made them even tastier, and you could consume more! I remember creating a sensation by introducing a nice modest Cahors. And the Sancerre!

    I was married to a French woman for several years, which sounds good, except she and her family were non-drinkers in deference to a sibling who had a Very Serious drug problem.

    Now I like ordinary wines, box wines, especially Almaden. But I also get some better wines, like a modest Bourgogne, or one of Randall Whats-s-names Bonny Doon wines like Big House Red. Even a more prestigious wine occasionally since I save so much on ordinaire.

    If you ever get a red wine you don’t like, turn it into vinegar! Better than choking it down or throwing it out. And the vinegar is so good you’ll wonder how you got so far in life without good vinegar. It’s easy to do and any makings you need are easy to get at a local wine-makers shop, or even by internet. My wife always kept a vinegar ‘mother’ working in the kitchen. Just dump the wine dregs into it. There are some vintners around here who are more proud of their vinegar than their wine. Use a little good vinegar in your cooking or in a salad with olive oil and mustard and your taste buds will rejoice.

    It’s a part of the good life. Enjoy it.