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Extreme Wine

Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered

Mike Veseth

In Extreme Wine, wine economist and best-selling author Mike Veseth circles the globe searching for the best, worst, cheapest, most expensive, and most over-priced wines. Mike seeks out the most outrageous wine people and places and probes the biggest wine booms and busts. Along the way he applauds celebrity wines, tries to find wine at the movies, and discovers wines that are so scarce that they are almost invisible. Why go to such extremes? Because, Mike argues, the world of wine is growing and changing, and if you want to find out what’s really happening you can’t be afraid to step over the edge. Written with verve and appreciation for all things wine, Extreme Wine will surprise and delight readers.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 248Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-1922-9 • Hardback • October 2013 • $24.95 • (£15.95)
978-1-4422-1923-6 • Paperback • November 2015 • $16.95 • (£10.95)
978-1-4422-1924-3 • eBook • July 2013 • $15.99 • (£10.95)
Mike Veseth is editor of The Wine Economist, a popular wine-industry blog, and author of Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists, which was named a 2011 Wine Book of the Year by JancisRobinson.com.
Chapter 1: X-Wines: In Vino Veritas?
Chapter 2: The Best and the Worst
Chapter 3: The Fame Game
Chapter 4: The Invisible Wine
Chapter 5: Money Wine
Chapter 6: Extreme Wine Booms and Busts
Chapter 7: Extreme Wine People
Chapter 8: Celebrity Wine
Chapter 9: Extreme Wine at the Movies
Chapter 10: Extreme Wine Tourism
Chapter 11: Extreme Wine: The Next Generation
Chapter 12: Extreme Wine Adventure
Veseth (Wine Wars), who blogs at the Wine Economist, takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the world’s wines in the titular superlatives. Readers may be familiar with French wines, but get ready to explore Canada’s Icewine (made from grapes frozen to 17 degrees Fahrenheit). These highly concentrated wines (popular in Asia) sell for prices ranging from $50 to $500. Veseth discusses how Prohibition (1920–33) impacted the wine industry (most wineries went out of business) as well as loopholes in the Volstead Act that allowed four million gallons of wine to be legally produced in 1925. The most expensive wine should be no surprise to readers: Bordeaux 2009. What’s the worst wine? Veseth writes, “That’s easy: look down!” Wines can be judged by their prices, with the cheaper wines located at the bottom of the wine shelves. Veseth asserts that celebrity wines such as those made by Yao Ming, Martha Stewart, and Paul Newman don’t necessarily harm the “real wine” industry and, in fact, encourage wine drinkers to try new varieties. VERDICT History buffs and adventurous wine drinkers are sure to find interesting tidbits about the industry and encounter new wines to hunt down. Highly recommended.
Library Journal

Wine expert and editor of the popular Wine Economist blog, Veseth (Wine Wars) returns with an entertaining and informative survey of the wine landscape, past and present. Here, “extreme” is used to define many aspects of wine culture, ranging from the extreme temperatures necessary for preparing a proper icewine, to the low pricing of Two Buck Chuck and Thunderbird, to the wildly expensive pastime known as 'wine tourism.' Veseth acts as an enthusiastic host who is more than willing to share his insights. For example, he explains how to quickly judge the quality of a wine by tilting the glass to a 45 degree angle (the more intense the color of the wine near the edge of the glass, the better it is) and why one should never order Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio at a restaurant (it is popular and routinely overpriced as a result). He even includes a chapter on celebrity wines—apparently former NBA player Yao Ming’s wine is worth checking out—and a fun wine-related filmography, with countless sources for additional information in every section. This entertaining read will surely resonate among fellow oenophiles and novice wine-oes alike.
Publishers Weekly

No wine-making or wine-selling professional can afford to ignore Veseth’s blog, which illuminates wine’s often murky economics. Here he expounds on wine’s outliers, revealing those wines that have unusual histories, are particularly expensive or cheap, or are made under the most difficult conditions. Taking what could be an esoteric subject and making it compelling for any wine drinker, Veseth probes the best and worst that the world’s vineyards produce. He chronicles booms and busts, relating how Prohibition actually became a boon for vineyards as home winemakers of the era snapped up grapes by the case for cross-country shipment. Explaining the impact of international currency markets, he documents how Australia’s strong dollar has dampened exports. Veseth also details why the cheapest wines aren’t necessarily the worst nor the most expensive the best. Surprisingly, celebrities’ involvement in winemaking has produced some bottlings that transcend the media status of the vineyards’ owners. Not just for geeky wine snobs.

Extreme Wine explores the often extraordinary stuff that is being produced on the margins of the wine industry. It does so by shining a spotlight on some of the superlatives mentioned in the book’s subtitle by means of vivid, often quirky examples, such as the infamous Billionaire’s Vinegar, or the dog winery at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley. . . .Extreme Wine shows just how fascinating and dynamic the wide world of wine really is, with new appellations, wineries, and winemaking techniques constantly emerging. So, if you are an explorer, the horizon is continually shifting, limitless.
Gayot’s Blog

This book is not for the snifferati and spitterati. It is an incredible and balanced study of the extremities of the wine world and wines of the world. Veseth even found our 600 bottles of extreme wine made in South Africa.
Emil Den Dulk, owner, De Toren Private Cellar, South Africa

Extreme Wine is a must-read for wine lovers and people in the wine industry. It helps me to look at the industry from various unique angles. I found myself jotting down idea after idea while reading the book—of which many are now part of my plan for promoting Grace Vineyard in China. Highly recommended!
Judy Leissner, CEO, Grace Vineyard, China

Congratulations to Mike Veseth for his outstanding book on the global wine world. It takes a very creative mind and a keen eye to see the center from the ‘extreme’ edges without distorting reality. It is a book that grabs you from the very beginning and once you start reading, you can hardly leave it before reaching its end.
Aldo Biondolillo, Tempus Alba, Argentina

A provocative, engaging, and seriously entertaining journey covering all the vineyards under the sun. Mike Veseth provides a delightful sensory experience that will greatly increase the reader's enjoyment of wine.
Cobus Joubert, Maison Joubert, South Africa

Extreme Wine is as broad as it is fascinating, with Mike Veseth’s always perceptive insights into what makes the world of wine tick. His book is a must read for all of us who eat, sleep, and breathe the rich and wonderful life of wine, and it opens its hidden extremes to the novice who might otherwise wonder why we find it so immensely rewarding.
Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO, Broadbent Selections, United States

Thanks to Mike Veseth, readers will discover and understand the philosophy that leads each producer to create his or her own wines. All our family is very proud to be considered ‘extreme wine’ people!
Giuseppe and Rafaella Bologna, owners, Braida Winery (maker of Bricco dell’Uccellone), Italy

[Veseth] writes about wine business issues with a down to earth populist ease. His enthusiastic, chatty style resembles a conversation over a glass of Merlot in a wine bar. He makes his subject highly accessible and clearly loves this world. . . . [His] ‘popular wine economics’ approach fill[s] a real gap in a readable and informative way. . . . [A] good introduction for students and those not experienced in wine business issues. There are useful insights for us old shire horses of the trade too. . . . For encouraging us to stop looking at our shoe laces and focus on the big picture he deserves many readers.
Harpers Wine & Spirit

Why are the most expensive wines not always the best and the cheapest almost never the worst?

Why is there sometimes only a tiny difference between the best wines and the worst ones?

Andy Warhol said that everyone (and everything?) would be famous for 15 minutes—so why does the fame of some wines endure for centuries?

What are the rarest and most ubiquitous wines and why are “$20-bill wines” almost impossible to find?

Sometimes it seems like celebrities ruin almost everything they touch. So why are celebrity wines sometimes excellent and even historic?

What have been the biggest wine booms and busts and what do they tell us about the wine business?

What does the world’s “oldest living wine” taste like?

What are the best wine movies (and why aren’t there more of them)?

How is fine wine like grand opera (and is that a good thing)?

Who are the most extreme wine people and what are the most extreme wine-tourist destinations?

What is the future of wine in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and why should you care?

In a world defined by money, media, and fame, does the eternal essence of wine endure? Or will it be tossed in the dustbin in the mobile-enabled drive-through culture of the future?

If you travel to the end of the earth and back in search of extreme wine experiences, what do you learn?

• Winner, Gourmand International "Best in the World" for Best Wine Blog (2015)