Book Review: "To Cork Or Not To Cork" George M. Taber


To Cork or Not To Cork. 
Tradition, romance, science and the battle for the wine bottle.  George M. Taber.  Scribner publishing, October, 2007.

"In the entire world, only a few sounds bring joy to all but the most jaded.  One is the purring of a kitten.  Another is the thwack of a well-pitched baseball hitting a perfectly swung bat.  And a third is the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle of wine."  George M. Taber, from his book "To Cork Or Not to Cork?"

To his list I would add the sound of George Taber’s prose. 

In recent memory, this is the most enjoyable wine book I’ve read.  There are times, after receiving a book for review, that I have to ponder what to say about it.  Not so with this one.  My reaction was instant.  Maybe I predisposed to like it because Jancis Robinson recommended it.  Maybe I was predisposed because I enjoyed his first book "The Judgment of Paris".  Or maybe because I was consulting at Bonny Doon Vineyard during their switch-over to screw caps in 2002 (so Taber’s recounting of Grahm’s "Funeral for the Cork" on page 157 brought back fond memories!)  But even after airing all my biases in full view, I can still be unabashed in my recommendation.

Taber’s books benefit from an approach to investigative journalism that is so thorough it would make Sherlock Holmes jealous.  But Taber is no Kurlansky, and his novel-esque style manages to be both serious and engaging (see the opening quote, reproduced above, which offers some rare poetry to a wine industry that has been busy for two decades leaking fun like the air through a pin hole.)  As a result, his books are far more difficult to put down (and easier to summarize when on the cocktail circuit!)

This book will appeal not only to wine geeks like me, but to any history buff as well.  And, as this book has JUST been published, it is the perfect holiday gift, as it is less likely to appear in your recipient’s existing book collection.  (Compare prices here)

If you read this book, I ask that you weigh in with your preferred bottle closure.  If you’re like me, you will long for a healthy cork industry so our kids can appreciate the sound and tradition of cork-finished wine bottles.  AND you will shed some prejudices surrounding alternative closures, whether they be screwed, bagged or boxed.

(Click Here if you can’t see the survey in this space)


Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant


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1 Response to “Book Review: "To Cork Or Not To Cork" George M. Taber”

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