Monday, September 29, 2008

The Wine Writing of Lawrence Osborne and Jay McInerney

Readers may have noticed my affection for wine writers Lawrence Osborne or Jay McInerney by glancing at the "my favorite wine and food books" bar on my blog, or through browsing the selection at the Visit Kirstin's Amazon Store link.

Although the number of fine writers writing about wine is very high, these two have something special. Their writing always strays from the norm in its engaging, approachable style and comedic flair. Sure, there's a little wine snobbery and namedropping here and there in their books, but unlike many other wine writers who can't seem to complete a paragraph without mentioning (gasp!) Petrus or the Rothschilds, McInerney has made it though an entire essay with the names he's dropped being Roger Dangerfield and Baywatch. Which brings our attention to comedy in wine. There's not enough of it. In general, wine isn't intended to be scary or overly exclusive, but bad writers can make it seem so. McInerney and Osborne's charm is often found in their acknowledgment of elitism in wine and in their exploration of the exclusive wine bottles and the craze behind them.

Here's an example of some of McInerney's work from "Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar," where he considers the allure of the word Champagne.

"When was the last time you said to your loved one, "Honey, I want to lick sparkling wine off your naked body" or, "Let's break out the Iron Horse?" Sometimes the substitution of the words Champagne or Cristal makes the declarations more plausible."

And when Osborne first meets Robert Mondavi in "The Accidental Connoisseur: An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World."

"Robert Mondavi came in as if propelled on wheels, soundless but swift. Cocooned in a dapper multicolored knit waistcoat, he cuts an elfin but worldly figure in his corporate HW office on Route 29. I thought him rather elegant in his suede-lined sports jacket and frosted pink shirt."

If you don't have books written by Osborne or McInerney, I would highly suggest buying them. Although no wine writer's essays should be used as bibles dictating what one should and shouldn't buy or taste, they can certainly be read for entertainment, general wine education and wine and writing inspiration. These guys are good.

The work of the aforementioned writers can also be found on the Men's Vogue website, gratis. Mens Vogue has for years been hiring some of the best writers to cover wine and food. Check them out. There are some great wineries that are featured via Vogue.

Lastly, within a month I will be doing a joint post with the awesome Chinese-home-cuisine focused Red Cook. Using his recipes, I'll be pairing wine to three courses of home-style Chinese food. Although interested in sampling some of the wines recently made in China for the event, I've been having a hard time finding good Chinese wine by my house so I went entirely Euro and South American with the wine, but in honor of the wine industry in China, here's a link to an article on Mens Vogue about the. nascent Chinese wine industry.

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1 comment:

danpetroski said...

Kirstin, you know I would second and third your suggestions on reading these writers. Bacchus and Me was one of the first wine books I had ever read and it led me on the pursuit of following a new found passion. Thanks for recognizing their collective writings.