Book Review: Reading between the Wines; by Terry Theise


Out of all of the wine books that I have reviewed so far (which, to be honest, isn’t that many yet), Reading between the Wines by Terry Theise has to be my favorite.  Typically when I’m reading through a book that I’ve slated to review (and yes, I read every single page of every book that I review), I either use a highlighter or “dog ear” a page when I’ve stumbled across something particularly noteworthy or something I’d like to mention in the review.  When reading through Reading between the Wines, I literally dog eared every other page in all of its 183 pages.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Reading between the Wines by Terry Theise is a wonderfully well-written work of art that gifted me with a smile from the moment I opened the cover to when I put it down for the night.  Theise intermingles intelligent prose on wine and side-splitting humor in a way that has one not only learning great knowledge from a seasoned importer but also trying not to make oneself look crazy when one has burst out laughing while laying on a crowded beach next to complete strangers catching some rays (I may or may not be speaking from experience).

“Don’t worry what you are ‘supposed’ to feel [about wine]…Just daydream and release your imagination.  Believe me, it’s more fun than trying to grab a wine, to nail the poor bastard, to dissect it in order to show how cool your palate is. What a pitiable waste!  It’s like ignoring a rainbow so you can balance your checkbook.

In Reading between the Wines, Terry Theise discusses “befriending your palate” in the first chapter and seamlessly moves into focusing on what he believes matters in regards to tasting and enjoying wine and what doesn’t. He stresses the importance of tasting the wine and listening what speaks to you and not what you think you’re supposed to taste.  Further on into the book, Theise discusses the concept of quality, and questions what do they mean exactly when they say this is a quality wine (and be they, I mean the “wine experts”)?

“…there are occasions when something more pagan is called for, and that’s when I summon my guiltiest of wine pleasures: Scheurebe. Scheurebe, often shortened to ‘Scheu’, is Riesling just after is read the Kama Sutra.  Put another way, Scheu is what Riesling would be if Riesling were a transvestite. If Riesling expresses all that is Noble and Good, Scheu offers all that is Dirty and Fun. It is Riesling’s evil, horny twin.”

The Academic Wino enjoying Reading between the Wines on a sunny beach in Mexico!

The Academic Wino enjoying Reading between the Wines on a sunny beach in Mexico!

Even further into the book, Theise takes us along with him on his many journeys to his clients in Germany and Austria, and really shows us his stuff when he starts talking about his favorite wines: Riesling and when in a particularly playful mood, Scheurebe.  Theise goes on for several splendidly descriptive pages about Reisling as well as Scheurebe: why he loves them as well as their viticultural and vinicultural characteristics, qualities, and quirks.  Of course, Theise knows more about wine than just these two grapes/wines, and beautifully expresses his knowledge of wine throughout the course of the book.

One final notable part of Reading between the Wines comes when he’s discussing the point system.  Though at times Theise respectfully disagrees with the whole 100 point system made famous by Robert Parker, he expresses great respect and esteem for Mr. Parker and how perhaps his scoring system perfectly illustrates Mr. Parker’s personal taste preferences for wines.  Of course, Theise discusses how complex wine is in regards to personal preferences, and also how incredibly difficult it is to put a score on a wine that while you may not be able to appropriately express what flavor nuances are present, it moves you so much that you are brought to tears.

There is so much more to this book that I can even begin to fathom summing up in one short blog post.  I highly recommend purchasing Reading between the Wines by Terry Theise and adding it to your wine book library.  If you want to feel the true beauty and mystery that is wine, while at the same time getting in some great laughs fueled by smart humor, head over to to purchase the book (affiliate link).



4 comments for “Book Review: Reading between the Wines; by Terry Theise

  1. January 25, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Great review Becca! When I read this book I was so glad to know that he writes like he speaks. Check out Grape Radio’s podcast interview of Terry here: It’s long, but it’s full of all kinds of wine wisdom nuggets (and asides, and digressions, and tangents…) that made this book a great read.

    • Becca
      January 25, 2013 at 6:50 am

      Thanks, Luke! I totally loved the book! …and thanks for the podcast! I’ll have to check that out when I have a little extra time this afternoon!

      As an aside: isn’t it almost 4am where you are? Night owl or early morning riser? Geez, man! 😉

  2. WineKnurd
    January 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Heading to Vegas in 4 days and was looking for a book to read on the plane. Looks like it will help pass the time quite nicely, thanks for posting these reviews Becca!

    PS- Becca you finally made it as a wine blogger, blogging from the sunny beaches of Mexico 🙂

    • Becca
      January 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      HA! I WISH I could afford to go to Mexico as a result of blogging! Fortunately for me, I was invited on the boyfriends’ family vacation 🙂 I actually didn’t do an ounce of blogging while I was there, though technically I was doing “research” while there by reading the book 🙂

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