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Book review: The ‘sideways’ view

Wine WarsIf I’m going to finish a book or magazine article (or blog post, for that matter) I expect the author to tell me something new or provoke me to consider something I thought I knew about in a different way.

(Of course it should be well written and focus on a topic that interests me. I sense I’ve read as much about Lady Gaga as I ever will, although I’m sure there’s plenty more that will amuse somebody else.)

I was reminded of this well into Mike Veseth’s Wine Wars when he wrote:

“Well, in wine tasting you learn that sometimes it can be helpful to tilt your glass at an angle and look at the edge of the wine. Sometimes this ‘sideways’ view provides information about the past and clues to the future. It’s time to take a sideways look at the future of wine.”

I was that far into the book (page 195) because Veseth takes a sideways look when discussing “The Curse of the Blue Nun, The Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists” (the sub-title of the book and the three sections in which is it divided). The first two parts help understand what’s different about shopping for wine at Trader Joe’s and Costco, and that was enough to keep my attention. Veseth is an economist and that’s one of the reasons I subscribe to his blog feed.

(And maybe the history of Blue Nun is special because way back when a friend who knew much more about wine than I did at the time actually sent back a bottle of Blue Nun. Who the hell knows when a bottle of Blue Nun is “off”?)

I wish there were more books like this focused on beer. If you look at Amazon’s list of best selling beer books the “how to” theme is pretty apparent. (The same is true of wine, but those aren’t the books I read.)

That’s why I plan to break away from drinking beer long enough at the Great American Beer Festival to listen to the discussion of “The Evolution of Beer Scholarship” in the Brewers Studio Pavilion (scroll down).

The writing and editorial team of the newly published The Oxford Companion to Beer, will discuss the developing resources in beer education. Compared to a well-defined wine academia, beer education has always been pretty thin, but that’s changing fast. Discussing resources from oral tradition to iPhone apps, Editor-in-Chief, Garrett Oliver, will lead this conversation on the current demand for genuine information and scholarship on beer, and what’s been happening to meet that demand and make brewing studies deeper and more interesting than ever before.

If I don’t make it and you do please tell them you’re pretty sure there is a demand for more information about hops.

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