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Book Review

by Sharon Kapnick

Parker’s Wine Bargains: The World’s Best Wine Values Under $25.00
by Robert M. Parker, Jr., and Contributors to The Wine Advocate
Published by Simon & Schuster; paperback, 497 pages

You know things have changed when Robert M. Parker Jr., the world’s most influential critic, pens a book recommending bargain wines. While his past titles include the likes of The World’s Greatest Wine Estates and Bordeaux: A Consumer’s Guide to the World’s Finest Wines, here he suggests many “under-the-radar, superb wine bargains that taste as if they should cost two or three times the price....”

Parker and five of his Wine Advocate newsletter associates have selected more than 3,000 gems from more than 1,500 producers. While the wines are mainly French, many are from countries known for good values, like Spain, (southern) Italy, Chile, Argentina and Australia. Also represented are Germany, Greece, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa and the US.

Each section includes overviews of the region, vintage information and recommended wines, with short (usually one- to two-sentence) tasting notes. These descriptions of the style and character of the wines are what you should typically expect in a good vintage. Rather than recommending particular vintages for each wine, “Vintage Smarts” features the best and worst vintages in the region. So you’ll need to check out which vintages to seek out and which to avoid. (Keep in mind that younger is usually better for white and rosé wines.)

While it’s not terribly hard to find bargains from underappreciated areas, Parker and his colleagues will lead you to good buys even from prestigious regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy. Alas, no Champagnes are to be found, but 26 sparklers are.

Bottom line: Features many wonderful wines. Your money will be very well spent. (Included in the $17.99 price of the book is a free 30-day subscription to Parker’s website,

© 2010 Sharon Kapnick for


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