Book Review

What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking – In Praise of the Sublime
by Terry Theise

For almost 20 now, I’ve experienced to joy, almost like a Christmas morning opening presents like a child when I got the new Terry Theise/Skurnik sales catalogs, these magical and lyrical efforts always set my mind a light with grinning ear to ear joy, they must be the best, heart felt and most expertly written trade literature ever made. I know that these played a huge part in my personal exploration of German wine and gave me the push to visit the country. Seeing Terry, at his tastings, often wearing his Jesus Drank Riesling T-Shirt meant a new discoveries, meeting new winemakers and finding a new way of look at wine and the men and women that make them. Now we have a series of books by Theise that focus our thoughts on wine and its meaning. The book What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking – In Praise of the Sublime is not an easy read for the novice or those looking for absolutes in a simple fashion, but it is truly important wine literature, brilliantly written by one of my favorite personalities in the wine world Terry Theise, one of the great influencers in the business. There is so much to cover and explain, it gets difficult to relate this piece of work to others, it is one that moves individuals in their own mind and explores the meaning of wine to you, first and foremost, but also to the producers that try their best to share their homes, their histories and terroirs with you. Terry tries to guide to authentic wines, wines that are divine in subtle delicacy and away from the blitz of screaming fruit and oak driven factory beverages that lack a soul, he is convincing and well meaning, hoping you’ll support the true heroic vignerons that make wine from the heart. This book is thought provoking and leads its reader to the joys of lighter and more refreshing wines, but still wines that are profound, impactful and yes, as Theise submits, the sublime.

Over the years I’ve spend some time with Terry and I have been incredibly inspired by his gentle guidance and I cannot begin to thank him for the introduction to so many wines and people that have changed my life for the better! This is a book that will take you on Terry’s journey, hearing his purpose, though the more you read the words you’ll see your own path and clarify what you want in wine and what it gives you. Theise is well aware of his palate, its brilliance and limitations, this is a refreshing bit of honesty that should be rewarded with your attention, much like he wants you to remove the noise and really listen to the wine in your glass. Theise covers a lot of territory in his sometimes challenging prose with everything from soils expression to climate change and his own pet peeves, like higher alcohol wines, but he wraps it up with lots of inspiring antidotes and humor. Some will think this book appeals to professionals and especially sommeliers, but I think it will give everyone something meaningful to remember. Terry Theise has brought German and Austrian wines, almost single handedly, into the mainstream in America with his amazing portfolio of vintners and his collection of grower producer Champagnes has changed the way we think of this region, he and Kermit Lynch are a big part of why we love old world wine in America. The What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking – In Praise of the Sublime should be in every wine lovers collection, it’s a guide to finding beauty in wine and in life and gives you reason to find time enjoy the quiet moments and calm with the wines and people that mean something to you. I highly recommend taking a dive into this essay and I suggest following Terry’s new blog on his recently launched website at

($16.20 Est. Amazon, $12.99 Kindle)

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