ALL-IN ON BOOK REVIEWS: Do you have a (non-fictional or fictional) book related to wine, spirits, or beer that you'd like reviewed? Contact me!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: Adventures with Old Vines, A Beginner's Guide to Being a Wine Connoisseur by Richard L. Chilton Jr.

Adventures with Old Vines, A Beginner's Guide to Being a Wine Connoisseur
Richard L. Chilton Jr. is a co-owner of Hourglass Vineyard and he has a strong opinion on the definition of a connoisseurship. He says that it’s “the art of tasting wine: pulling the cork, savoring the delight, recording the experience, and comparing the differences between wines of different regions, varietals, and countries.” Maybe you love wine but you’re really more of a collector instead, where obtaining great wine is your main objective. Maybe you love wine but you’re the average consumer, buying what you already know you like the same day you’re going to drink it.

I guess I wouldn’t be considered a connoisseur because, yeah I love tasting and analyzing wine, but I’m driven by theory, history and being as knowledgeable as I can be for my clients. I’m not all that interested in being able to taste the differences between a 1993 Napa Cab and a 1994 Napa Cab.

With his definition in mind, Chilton began writing this book with the intention of both helping new connoisseurs find their way and helping old connoisseurs remember where they came from. What he ended up writing was 49 pages that every wine lover would truly enjoy reading, and another 219 pages that every wine lover should have on their bookshelf for when they need it.

Richard L. Chilton Jr.
The book starts off with usual topics: How to buy wine, how to store wine, how to taste wine. However, Chilton has an ability to make these chapters short, to the point, informative, and extremely useful, so you don’t feel like you’re reading the same old stuff with a different author’s spin. There are some authors that have great knowledge with a great ability to dumb it down for beginners, but it’s clear that Chilton has great knowledge and doesn’t need to dumb it down because he knows how to present it. He doesn’t hold back with a ton of information here (it’s a lot more data heavy than other wine books when they tackle those chapters), yet he’s in and out without a single moment that I can’t see would confuse a newbie.

And then, Chapter 4: “Collecting versus Connoisseurship” comes and all of us normal people stand up and applaud...
“As Captain Ridgeway told me at age ten, ‘Son, if you don’t put our line in the water... you have no chance to catch a fish.’ The same is true for wine. If all you do is look at that 1982 Chateau Lafita Rothschild, you will never enjoy the wine or learn about all the complexities that open up on your palate.”
DRINK YOUR DAMN WINE! Sheesh! Rich people and their wine cellars. Bill Koch bought a bottle that he thought was from Thomas Jefferson’s collection. Turns out it was a fraud and the wine inside could have been from a box of Franzia Chillable Red or something. Why did he buy that wine? Just to have it. Now, of course that’s why you’d buy a bottle from America’s first wine expert’s collection. You wouldn’t drink it. And that’s why wine fraud is such a huge problem. A lot of the wines at auctions are purchased just so the buyers can say they have it. That’s where I stand on this. If you’re going to collect, then only collect things that you intend to eventually drink. You can’t take it with you.

Chilton makes a much classier case here for drinking your damn wine. He has changed how his clients collect, and it’s one of the shining moments of the book.

After a few more chapter (how to read a wine list, the history of the sommelier, how wine is made) it’s time for something completely different. It becomes more of a reference book.

There are a bunch of wine books that you don’t have to read all the way through but come in handy as useful tools to have. The Oxford Dictionary of wine is essential to own, but chances are you’ll only use it for references and information when you need it. The Wine Bible is another classic reference book, although I do recommend giving it a full read.

Adventures with Old Vines, A Beginner's Guide to Being a Wine ConnoisseurWith the final 2/3rd’s of Adventures of Old Vines, it becomes a great reference book for information when you need it (unless you have photographic memory and can remember it all). This is where Chilton has taken, what he calls, “Benchmark Wines” and gives you a bunch of important information on them. History, address, owners, vineyard sizes, and top vintages. Handy, right?

Now let me explain why I stopped reading this book half way through. Do you really need to know the great vintages of Petrus? Absolutely not. Will you even have the opportunity to actually consume Petrus in your lifetime? The chances are not in your favor. Luckily for us non-snobs, the featured wineries aren’t all as super expensive and ultra rare as Petrus or Romanee-Conti.

So “Benchmark Wines” is a cool thing to have, but the most valuable tool that this book gives you is its final chapter titled “Summary of great vintages and those to avoid.” It is exactly what you think it is, and it alone is worth the price of the entire book.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home


  1. I read the book also. A definite positive reference book


    Hey there, I am Kevin, live here in Canada. I hate to say this because I am not proud of it, but for the interest of those who maybe going through similar predicaments; I had criminal record that deprived me of so many job opportunities alongside hard inquiries and about 16 derogatory items which messed up my report and lowered my credit score to low 540 (TransUnion) 580 (Equifax) and 560 (Transunion).
    I couldn't meet up with so many payments and I had plenty debts, it was going to ruin my life until I read testimonies about came Hack West on a blog and how they can help clean criminal records as well as fixing credit, I thought it was all a faux but something told me to give it a try and after few days, my record was wiped clean and my credit was brought up to 830. I'm so excited and I strongly recommend H A C K W E S T @ W R I T E M E . C O M to anyone who might need his help. You can also WhatsApp: +1 ( 4 2 4) 3 0 7-2 6 3 8.



*SPONSORED* ABriefHistoryOf Abruzzo Agiorgitiko Aglianico Airen Albarino Aleatico Alentejo Alexander Valley Alicante Bouschet Alsace Apothic Argentina Armagnac Arroyo Grande Arroyo Seco audio article Australia Austria Baco Barbera Barrossa Valley Batman Beaujolais beer Best Of biodynamic blend blog Bogati Bonarda book Bordeaux bourbon box wine Brachetto brandy Bulgaria Burgundy Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Cahors Caino Blanco California Campania Canada Canaiolo. cans Cape Cod Captain America Carignan Cariñena Carmenere Catalonia Cava Central Coast certification Chablis Chalk Hill Champagne Chardonnay cheese Chenin Blanc Chianti Chile China cider Cinsault Clarksburg cocktails Cognac Colombard Columbia Valley comics Cotes-du-Rhone Counoise Croatia CSW Dane Cellars DC dessert wine Distill Wars Dona Blanco Douro Dry Creek Dunnigan Hills Edna Valley Falanghina February Felix Hart Fer Servadou Fiano fiction Finger Lakes Folle Blanche formulas France Franciacorta Frankovka Frappato Furmint Galicia Galilee Gamay Garganega Gascony Germany Gewurtztraminer gin Glera Godello Graciano greco di tufo Greece Grenache Grenache Blanc Grillo Gros Manseng Gruner Veltliner GSM guest blog Heroes history horror how to Hungary interview Israel Italy Japan Jerez Kansas kosher Lambrusco Languedoc-Roussillon Left Coast Leyda Valley Lisboa Livermore Lodi Loire Loureira love letter Macon Madeira Madiran Malbec Malvasia Marcillac marijuana Marlborough Marsanne Marselan Marvel Massachusetts Matchbook Mavrud Mazuelo McLaren Vale mead Melnik Mencia Mendocino Mendoza Meritage Merlot Mexico Michigan mixology Monbazillac Monstant Montecucco Montepulciano Monterey Montery Moscato Mosel Mourvédre Muscadelle Muscat mythology Napa Navarra Nebbiolo Nero d'Avola New York New Zealand news non-alcoholic nonfiction Norello Mascalese North Coast Oakville Oregon organic original meme pairings Palestine Pecorino Pedro Ximenez Perricone Petit Verdot Petite Sirah Petite Verdot photo gallery phylloxera Picpoul Piedmont Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris/Grigio Pinot Meunier Pinot Noir Pinotage Pliny podcast Port Portugal Press Release Primitivo product Prosecco Provence quickie quote rakia recipe retail problems Retsina review Rheingau Rhone Rias Baixas Ribera del Duero Riesling Rioja Rondinella rose Roussanne Rubin Rueda rum Russian River Sagrantino Sake Salta Sandanski Misket Sandeanski Misket Sangiovese Sangria santa clara Santa Lucia Higlands Sauvignon Blanc science scotch Sekt Semillon Seyval Blanc Sherry Sicily Somontano Sonoma South Africa South Australia Spain spark Sparkling Spider-Man spirits stemware storage study sulfites Superman sustainable SWE Syrah Tannat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Temecula Tempranillo Tequila Texas thc The Flash Tinta Amarela Tinta Caiada Torrontes Touriga Nacional Traminer Trebbiano Trincadeira Turkey Tuscany Ugni Blanc Umbria USA Valdiguié Valiant Valpolicella vegan Veneto Verdejo Verdicchio Vermentino Vermont Vermouth Vernacca Vidal Blanc video Vinho Verde Viognier Virginia Viura vodka Walla Walla Washington State whiskey White zinfandel Wildstorm Willamette wine Wine Bloggers Off-Topic wine club Wine Pick Wolverine Wonder Woman Zinfandel Zweigelt