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The Ultimate Wine Textbook
Windows on the World: Complete Wine Course
2006 Special 20th Anniversary Edition

By Kevin Zraly
(Sterling, $25)

Reviewed by James Riswick

Windows on the World was the restaurant that inhabited the 106th and 107th floors of the World Trade Center’s north tower. Opened in 1976, it was one of the world’s best-known restaurants and ranked No. 1 in dollar volume in the United States. It also generated more wine sales than any other restaurant in the world, partly thanks to cellar master Kevin Zraly, who also created a wine school at the popular establishment. On September 11, 2001, Zraly lost 72 of his friends and coworkers; not to mention the restaurant and school he called home for 25 years. To honor their legacy he has continued the Windows on the World wine school and this annually updated book (now in its 20th edition) that’s filled with valuable facts, insights and commentary. While it’s a great coffee table book, it’s written and presented very much like a college textbook; each chapter or class breaks down different aspects of wine. Each sub-topic is introduced with a question, such as “Why is Burgundy so difficult to understand?” which makes skimming through it very easy. The neat facts that run down the side of each page present the most fascinating tid-bits of information. Such nuggets include: the California wine industry is a bigger money maker than Hollywood; until about 1850, all Champagne was sweet; and King Tut preferred red wine to white. There’s also a rumor that Marilyn Monroe took a bath in 350 bottles of Champagne—perhaps diamonds weren’t really her best friends. Throw in a helpful glossary, Zraly’s “Best of the Best” list and a very reasonable price, and all together “Windows on the World: Complete Wine Course” is an interesting and tremendously useful guide for novices and experts alike.


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