Book Review: A Drinker With a Writing Problem…..

I just finished A Drinker With a Writing Problem by John Turi. This was an Amazon “one-click” purchase because, well, the title …..

John Turi is a self taught wine reviewer. He writes reviews at Y 9 Review and a monthly column for an online literary publication, Connotation Press, see his latest post here. He is an avid collector of rare books and wine, with an extensive cellar. In addition to his writing, and collecting, he is Senior Marketing Manager for one the largest adult sex toy companies in the world. If nothing else, these are certainly interesting pieces to the puzzle.

The very first wine reviewed is Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1966. Be still my heart — not that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this $800 bottle of wine, but because of the long history and devotion this producer has to beautiful labels (see my previous blog post here). At this point I heart the book and John Turi. Luckily there is an ever so slight undercurrent of touting one’s own horn that keeps my enthusiasm tempered.  I must admit to a few hard eye rolls — rare books, a classic 1984 Porsche 911, exclusive wine, and monogamous sex that never gets old because of an endless supply of sex toys – blah, blah, blah.

I had to go and read a few of Mr. Turi’s Y9 reviews to get a better appreciation for both his writing and his demeanor. It turns out he does, occasionally, experience life like a commoner — see his review of  box wines.

The book contains 12 reviews that are also more like journal posts. Each review contains a picture of the bottle, a numerical rating and John’s tasting notes, including price, serving temperature, pairing recommendations and when to drink. Each review also contains a story of how the wine was acquired and when or where it was drank and some information on the winery or wine maker — sometimes through personal account and sometimes through Wikipedia….really? Wikipedia?

I’m pretty sure what I’m supposed to love most about this book is John Turi himself. But, what I actually loved about this book, other than the title, was that aside from the Mouton Rothschild, there are two other reviews that reference the importance of the label to the winemaker – as noted above, this subject is near and dear to my heart.

Harlan Estates, The Maiden, Proprietary Red, 1997:

William Harlan said of his label, whose design was overseen by a retired U.S. Treasury engraver, “It was a label designed for a bottle that would sit on a table in candlelight, not on a store shelf.” The detail and care that goes in to their labels is not lost on me and is undeniable in it’s classiness. This is one time you can certainly judge a bottle by its label.

Turi’s opinion of “undeniable in its classiness” somehow induces an hard eye roll, but the winemaker’s reference to the label being meant to sit on a candlelit table….now that makes my heart go pitter-patter.

Charles Smith K “Ovide”, Red Blend 2009:

His passion is not just in the wine, but in the design of the label ….  The designs are very modern, in black line pen and ink style. Even in a crowded wine cellar, Smith’s labels are quite distinctive.

 This particular label does nothing for me, but then again, the quote above is Turi’s, not Charles Smith’s. Go figure.

All in all, it was a quick easy read with some interesting information. I think in the future I will follow John’s reviews at the websites referenced above, because I find the every day to be just as interesting as the rare finds, but that’s just me. I’ll leave you with a quote from his review of Kosta Browne, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009, where Mr. Turi redeems himself  by summing things up beautifully:

We celebrate weddings, anniversaries, holidays and funerals with alcohol. For thousands of years, beer, wine and spirits have played an important part in the rituals of civilization. Ships are christened with champagne, Irish whiskey is poured on the graves at Irish burials, and beer festivals cheered every October.  This is who we are as people; we raise our glasses and hail the occasion and, with merriment, we rejoice. And sometimes, more solemnly, we toast someone’s passing. In good times and bad we pay honor with booze.

Cheers to that Mr. Turi. Cheers to that.




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