During the past week, I’ve been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” show on my TiVo (as I write this post, more is being recorded as part of a marathon on The Travel Channel). Of course, I’ve been aware of Bourdain’s antics over the years but have not read any of his books or really watched his TV show until the past week.
In typical fashion for me, something resonated with his world-weary sarcasm, irony and, yes, discovery which led me to watch 10 hours of No Reservations and pick up his first book “Kitchen Confidential” of which 161 pages are now read.
How did I miss the pleasure of his wit, insight into the restaurant business and recommendations on when to eat seafood while dining out? Until this past week, Bourdain was the snarky judge on Top Chef who I assumed Tom Colicchio demanded be on to make him seem more reasonable by comparison. But now I see Bourdain as an old friend who is giving me the inside skinny on what it’s really like behind the scenes in restaurants. So it made me wonder who would do the same for the wine industry?
Almost every book about wine props up the romantic notion that great wine mostly comes from privileged ground in the Old World where centuries of learning and adaption to the earth produce these ethereal beverages. The French even invented a word/marketing strategy called “terroir” around this notion. While some of this is based upon fact, the real story is drastically less romantic based upon my short time working in the wine trade. And because I take non-disclosure agreements seriously, you will not see many such anecdotes on this blog unless anonymous sources start sending me emails.
Sure, there are a few juicy books about the wine business that sometimes expose insider details but they are always told from an outsider’s point of view. James Conaway’s “Napa: The Story of an American Eden” and the more recent “The House of Mondavi” by Julia Flynn Siler come to mind. But no one has taken on the first person, I-know-where-the-bodies-are-buried approach to demystifying the wine industry.
So who will tell the real insider story here, a la Bourdain?