Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's Greek to me

Here I am breaking all my rules and it isn’t even the end of the first month of 2008.

First, I don’t do wine reviews, but now I do. Then, I don’t do book reviews, but now I will. This particular book review is a labor of love.

I don’t know Miles Lambert Gócs. I tried to explain to him that I can’t even sell my own books, but Miles sent me a copy of his book anyway, Desert Island Wine, and as soon as I read the first paragraph, I knew that I had discovered a kindred soul. Always in the market for punishing a kindred soul, I sent him a copy of my first book, Garlic, Wine and Olive Oil: Historical Anecdotes and Recipes.

Miles and I emailed each other our impressions of the books. Then, we emailed our general impressions about other matters connected to wine. In the process, we discovered similarities in our upbringing, our life experiences, and our taste in the wine world and in wine.

He sent me another book, Greek Salad; I sent him another one, WINE: The 8,000 Year Old Story of the Wine Trade. If we keep this up, Miles and I will have the largest library of each other’s books! (I do wish my publishers could read his titles—see how short and to the point they are, guys? I fought and lost the title battle for my books each time.)

Miles has written three books: The Wines of Greece, Greek Salad, and Desert Island Wine. In each, Greece plays the major role in his view of wine and who knows, maybe his view of the world is Greek-like. I’ve so far read only the last book and so that’s the one I can comment on right now. But before I go on, have you noticed that the word geek is but a letter away from Greek?

Desert Island Wine is not for the faint of wine geekdom. Assuming that most geeks will even understand half of what Miles wrote, this book skewers geekdom lovingly, and with "gobs of irony," humor in the form of puns, sarcastic historical references, farce, parody, you name it. As I’ve said, this review is a labor of love-I really like the kind of writing that Miles produced.

If I had to pick a favorite chapter it would be Acid Reign. I felt like Miles had read my mind. How did he know that I sucked lemons as a child, and that in my dotage the first thing I consume each morning is fresh squeezed grapefruit juice that I painstakingly work through my manual Hamilton Beach juicer. Acid is KING and QUEEN, too.

My second favorite chapter: Report to Tom. It’s Miles talking to Thomas Jefferson, and I believe just one of them is listening.

Maybe the book is not for everyone; it’s an intelligent read. But if reading it gets a few people off their asses to lift up an encyclopedia, a history or philosophy book, it would be worth more than its listed $14.95 (I got it for free, so there).

I recommend it highly for those looking to have fun reading the thoughts of someone who has some thoughts about the subject of wine. Thoughts that stem from years of imbibing through observation.

Desert Island Wine, by Miles Lambert Gócs: Ambeli Press, Virginia, Dist. by The Wine Appreciation Guild. $15

This entry’s wine:

In keeping with Miles’ Greekolgy, I’m going to talk about a Peloponnesion wine called 14-18h.

Yep, that’s the name of the wine: 14-18h. It refers to the hours (in 24-hour clock time) that the must of the Agiorgitiko grape was in contact with the skins before pressing off and creating this Rosé (sorry, they didn’t put the Greek word for rosé on the label, and I don’t know what it is—maybe Miles will chime in on comments).

At first, I didn’t catch much in the aroma. But after it warmed a little, the wine gave off a pleasant spring like smell, as if strawberry flowers were about to open.

The taste was like a sharp cranberry/strawberry drink with a kick. I liked that, but, a disappointment to me—there was no finish.

In all, a nice wine that held up rather well with a ginger-spiced wok dish of snow peas, red pepper, fennel, leeks, garlic, and pieces of buttermilk-marinated chicken breast over brown Basmati rice with a touch of soy sauce.

My wife asked if it's legal to drink Greek wine with Asian food. Hmm.

2006 Agiorgitiko Rosé, Gaia Estate
Koutsi, Nemea, Greece

12.5 alcohol, $14.00 before volume discount.

Imported by Importers and Distributors LTD, Long Island

Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
January 2008. All rights reserved.


  1. "My wife asked if it's legal to drink Greek wine with Asian food."

    It is not.

  2. well Thomas, it seems that you have to speed up wrting new books. Greek Wines are much better than their reputation.

    And the punisjment when caught - cheap Greek Wine...

  3. Yeah, I've been drinking Greek wine for many years--trying to keep the secret so the prices don't rise.

    First time I tasted good Greek wines was of course in Greece--on the islands of Rhodes and Samos. But no Asian food...

  4. Yet another entertaining article, where can I get this book 8000 years of the wine trade, is it still in print, I would be interested in reading it as wine history has always been my focus.
    I saw your interview in fermentations I am surprised I thought you didn't do interviews either...

  5. Mark,

    Are you kidding? Interviews = free advertising, not to mention soft stroking on one's brow for all the hard work ;)

    8,000 Year Old is in print and on Amazon. Just type my name in the "books" section and both my books should come up. The first book is out of print, but available.

    Workin' on book three as we speak...