Wine Books: Stuart Walton
Walton likes to expose all that he feels is bad about the wine trade. You Heard it Through the Grapevine does just that; this eye-opening tome deals with the seedier side of the wine business, and some critics come in for some serious stick!
A must read for those that have any interest in enjoying wine, Stuart Walton’s personal exploration of all that is wrong with the wine industry in the UK is difficult to put down. Having reached the last page within just a few days, I soon found myself returning to selected parts of the book, to experience once more Walton’s combination of wit and insight. Although all parts of the book have their appeal, the chapter that first drew me back was very near the end, entitled ‘Scraping the Barrel’. Here Walton treats us to a delightfully honest account of some of the freebies, jaunts and plain bribes on offer to wine writers in exchange for just a few column inches. He exposes the seedy side of the relationships between wine journalists and the industry on which they write supposedly independent copy, reserving particular disdain for those in deepest, working hand in pocket with the big supermarkets. It's fascinating and eye-opening stuff. Walton’s book, however, has a lot more to offer than this. His opinions on a number of issues, including the range of wine available in supermarkets, restaurant wine and mark-up, the abuse of famous names and the overuse of oak, to name just a few, are all worth reading. Walton rarely puts a foot wrong, and whereas I’m quite familiar with all of these arguments it is rewarding to see them presented in such a sharp fashion. A must-read for all those who love their wine, although those who purchase wine on a points basis from a weekend supplement shopping list may find it most enlightening of all.