Book Review: Kevin Zraly: Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, 30th Anniversary Edition


Praised as the “consummate teacher” by Wine Spectator, for 30 years Kevin Zraly has published the seminal education course and reference material for beginners and experienced wine enthusiasts alike. To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Kevin Zraly Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, the 30th Anniversary edition has been revised and updated with current facts, charts, recommendations, tasting courses and even quizzes. Kevin Zraly’s prestigious honors include Lifetime Achievement Awards from the James Beard Foundation and European Wine Council, and the James Beard Award for the Wine and Spirits Professional of the year.

First published in 1985,the book is founded on Zraly’s handouts and transcripts from his wine school classes. Following the sagely words of William Shakespeare “brevity is the soul of wit”, throughout the 30 years of updates the accessible, easy to understand format of the book has remained the same. A self proclaimed lover of statistics, Zraly has managed to infuse the pages with even more information in the margins, such as facts, figures, personal commentary and quotes. These sidebars are my favourite feature of the book; they include a quick reference system of fascinating and unique facts that aren’t readily available elsewhere, such as various regional trends throughout the decades. Zraly has also included smartphone tags [QR codes] that send the reader to videos for further study, and invaluable audio guides for the pronunciation of more than 1400 wine words.

Like so many of my colleagues, this was one of the first books I read upon beginning my journey in the world of wine. [Funnily enough, I have the 20th Anniversary 2006 edition.] The chapters are organized into 8 eight classes, the “Prelude to Wine” is a well thought out introduction to red and white grapes, the basics of winemaking along with the physiology of taste and smell. The classes [or chapters] are organized by geographical location and further delineated by red or white grapes. The concluding chapters include practical information such as pairing wine with food, and an engaging “best of the best” list with advice on such topics as “the best white wine for lunch”, “the best wine for chocolate”, and “ the best wine to age”. The section “Best Value List: $30 And Under” is one of the treasures of the book. One of the most asked questions I hear is what is the best budget friendly wine; people want to know the best values. The section is organized by country, with Zraly listing in some cases upwards of 100 different budget friendly wines from his favourite producers.

Kevin Zraly’s enthusiasm and passion after 40 years of studying and teaching wine is apparent, and this a must have book for all types of wine enthusiasts, from the beginner to those more proficient. A fantastic holiday gift for those wishing to embark on all of the fundamentals of wine or as an indispensible reference source for the more seasoned enthusiast.

Kevin Zraly Windows on the World Complete Wine Course
Sterling Epicure
368 pages
Publication Date: October 2014

WOW30th Cover

Submitted by YC Media for review. [Thanks to my friend Frank Cook for the opportunity.]

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