The Accidental Connoisseur

“The Accidental Connoisseur,” journalist Lawrence Osborne asks himself the question what is taste and, as a British-born New Yorker, does he really trust his own? With this in mind, he embarks on a wine tasting journey throughout Europe and California as the ultimate exercise in testing his taste buds.

On this quest, Osborne interviews a variety of people ranging from independent vineyard owners to prominent industry figures. His descriptions of these meetings are often hilarious as during tastings he finds himself desperately trying to say something intelligent while his hosts wait expectantly. The author portrays himself as something of an amateur, yet as the book progresses it becomes clear that he is in fact highly knowledgeable.

But, his feigning naivety allows him to get great quotes from pontificating winemakers. Though designed to demonstrate what makes a really great bottle, this book is also about the wine business and Osborne’s stance is very much in favor of the independents. His conversations often escalate into heftier debates, covering controversial topics such as globalization and the current apport between France and the US, one that is embodied in the book by the renowned wine critic Robert Parker – a man some feel is single-handedly responsible for the homogenization of taste in the wine industry.Lawrence Osborne succeeds where many wine writers fail by making the subject accessible to all. He never draws a conclusion regarding what good taste is or dictates what one should drink. One’s own taste, he says, is something that can only be developed in action, so drink up. AQ

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