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Wine for Dummies®, 5th Edition

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 8:08 am EDT
"the quality of a wine is objectively measurable."

Why do you need a NEW edition of Wine For Dummies (Wiley, 978-1-118-28872-6, September 2012)? Well, Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan wrote the first edition in 1995, and the world of wine has changed tremendously since then. It has even changed a lot since their fourth edition in 2006.

What has changed exactly? [excerpted from the book]

The wine world has an exciting new face thanks to the communities of wine lovers who share opinions, chat, and blog on Internet sites like Wine Review Online and, and these voices are shaping new trends. In addition, great wine shopping can also happen online. “When we wrote the fourth edition, we bought almost all our wine in wine shops that we visited in person. Although we still buy much of our wine in wine shops, these days we use the Internet to find shops that sell the wines we want at the best prices, and then we often purchase wine online,” say McCarthy and Ewing-Mulligan.

New styles of popular wine are emerging, and a whole new approach to food and wine pairing has taken root. Back in the era of the TV show Mad Men, a few simple – and simplistic— rules guided people in selecting wines for their meals. Today, the enormous range of wines available and the eclectic gamut of food choices render yesterday’s easy rules obsolete. Not only that, but today, science has documented that people have inborn sensitivities or inborn tolerances to some of the fundamental tastes present in foods and wines.

The wines of South America have come on strong, and they offer some of the best values around (Chilean wineries with reasonable prices include Calina, Caliterra, Carmen, Casa Lapostolle, and more). Wine grapes have grown in Argentina and Chile since the mid-16th century; however, Argentina’s source of vines was more diverse. Many vines came to Argentina with the vast numbers of Italian and Basque immigrants and as a result, Argentina boasts grape varieties, such as Bonarda and Malbec, that are insignificant in Chile. The authors have ramped up coverage of both countries to give you the inside track on these explosive wine regions.

When most wine drinkers think about American wine, they think of California. That’s not surprising—the wines of California make up about 90 percent of U.S. wine production. Gallo Winery is the largest winery in the state, producing one out of every four bottles of wine sold in the United States. But dozens of new California wineries have opened and a few have gone out of business, many have improved, and a few have slipped. The book’s recommendations reflect all these changes.

Remember those prices listed for wines worth trying in earlier editions? Well, big surprise: just about all those prices have increased. But don’t fear, because McCarthy and Ewing-Mulligan point out some bargains, such as the white Mâcon and wines from one of Burgundy’s best-kept secrets, the Côte Chalonnaise.

Several new vintages have occurred: Wine For Dummies, 5th Edition gives you the lowdown on them throughout the book, and especially in our vintage chart in the Appendix.

In addition, you’ll enjoy the always popular “Part of Tens,” where the authors debunk ten wine myths, such as “a screw cap closure indicates a lower-quality of wine,” “white wine goes with fish, red wine goes with meat,” and “the quality of a wine is objectively measurable.”

And a Cheat Sheet on includes a quick guide to wine pronunciation, useful terms for describing wine (think “bouquet,” “tannic,” and “oaky”), an easy wine identifier, and helpful hints for buying wine with confidence.


Adrienne Fontaine, 201-748-5626

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