Book Review: Secrets of the Sommeliers

A buyer’s review online of this book said something to the effect of, “The only bad part about this book is the title.” They were absolutely right. It’s a bland title, and I wish it gave potential readers a better taste of what they were in for because this book is for everyone. It’s a book that will open some eyes, enlighten many, and serve as a reference guide for everyone for as long as it’s on the shelf.

Secrets of the Sommeliers by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay

Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay create a book that gives you a little of everything. Rajat Parr is in charge of the wine program for all of the Michael Mina restaurant group. He has a lot of knowledge to offer the reader, believe me. Learn what a sommelier actually does day in, and day out. Full sections give sommelier’s tips on tasting and buying wines, which are a good reminder to experienced tasters and also a good jumping off point for newbies.

There’s also a great section on pairing wines with food. This topic is often tricky and far too detailed for most readers. Instead, Parr breaks it down into categories such as fish, which is then broken down further by how it’s cooked (skin on, salt baked, etc.) and does this with each type of food you could be eating. This gives a great reference guide that you can quickly reference anytime you need it for your next meal.

My favorite section, “The Wine List,” walks the reader through each major wine growing area of the world (You’ll find Parr has a major affinity for Burgundy wines. This section is longer than all the other world’s regions sections combined.), describing key aspects of each and suggests specific producers to look out for. This is done in many other books, but Parr gives a personal, tangible reason for each of his suggestions – not because the place is famous (though it may be), and not because  of the price (it could be at any price point), but because of how the wine is made, and who makes it. And that’s what matters to people. If you understand where the wine comes from and know something about the person who broke their back to make it, you’ll appreciate the wine that much more.

Thank you Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay for creating an honest wine book that conveys personality to the reader. It was a more than refreshing read when so many wine books today become bogged down. And thank you also for reminding (inspiring) me to take back up my efforts to write notes on wines I taste. I hope this won’t be the last book I read by these two.


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