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American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States

This book on American wine is accurate, insightful, and on target

Reviewed by Wes Marshall, Fri., March 29, 2013

Wine of the Week

American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States

by Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy
University of California Press, 288 pp., $50

British wine writer Jancis Robinson has been on a roll the last few years. Each time she puts her name on a hardcover, she ends up creating a genre-defining book that deserves a place in every serious wine library. Last October brought Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. Before that, she wrote The Concise World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine. Now she delivers another verifiable classic. Thanks in part to the writing and research assistance of ex-San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor Linda Murphy, American Wine indeed lives up to its subtitle's boast to be "the Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States."

Robinson is a Master of Wine and regular columnist for the English language's greatest wine magazine, Decanter. She is a busy person, so she enlisted Murphy to travel the states and do the hands-on research. She goes so far as to write on her website, "Linda Murphy writes particularly engagingly on the wines, wineries, and winemakers of the world's fourth biggest wine producer" – so let's give creative credit to Robinson and writing credit to Murphy.

Several Texas grape growers and winemakers can attest to the fact that Murphy really did her research. She spent time traveling the state of Texas – having lunches with grape growers and tramping around vineyards with viticulturists. I can only assume she did the same in other states. I cover the Southwest United States for another major British publication, so I can attest that the work here is accurate, insightful, and directly on target. Murphy's prose is clear, unsnobby, and stimulating. For anyone interested in veering outside the normal California-only books, American Wine does a brilliant job of covering the entire scope of United States wines. I give American Wine my highest possible recommendation.

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