Book Review: "Finding Meaning in Wine: A US Blend," by Michael Sinowitz

Michael Sinowitz is an English professor at DePauw University, and the book is part of academic publisher Routledge’s Food Studies series. So, that gives a strong indication of the tack this work takes. Sinowitz draws parallels between wine criticism and literary criticism throughout the work, which may be interesting to folks who are more well-read than myself, but I have to admit that these comparisons made heavy sledding for me.

Along the way, Sinowitz repeatedly references retired wine critics Robert Parker (this publication’s founder) and James Laube (Wine Spectator) when making his arguments, described by such chapter titles as “Against Tasting: The Problems of Blind Tasting and Interpretation” and “On Balance: Numbers, Words and Wine on a Page.”

The book’s repeated references to literary criticism and the philosophy of aesthetics tripped me up regularly, but they might make more sense to an academic audience schooled in (or studying) Emmanuel Kant or Arthur Danto. For a nonacademic like myself, the most interesting portions of the book are the conversations that Sinowitz recounts with such thoughtful California winemakers as John Kongsgaard, Abe Schoener and Tegan Passalacqua.

Sinowitz asks questions rather than answering them, but that seems to be the major point of the book—to get readers thinking about wine in more intellectual ways.

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