I first became aware of the work of Ben Canaider through his “Drink Drank Drunk” series of wine guides with Greg Duncan Powell. I’ve also intervewed Ben on a couple of occasions. My favourite anecdote about the guide series was the story about how and Greg selected and reviewed the booze: he and Greg travelled to the NSW South Coast – Bawley Point, I think – and just drank for a week. A highly pragmatic and interesting approach to wine judgement, and quite opposed to the system of regularised Wine Judging which Ben doesn’t appear to favour.
At the start of this book, “The Perfect Glass Of Wine”, Ben declares “wine has two attractions, or two angles of attack. Firstly, it gets you drunk… Secondly, wine makes you self-important”. Through a series of anecdotes, this book takes the reader on a journey around the world offering insights into wine trends and tastes. The subjectivity of his analysis parallels his own viewpoint that different wines mean different things to different people.
That said, Ben holds particular disdain for chardonnay, likening the spectacular growth of chardonnay to “The Day of the Triffids”. He also likens the popularity of chardonnay to that of Dolly Parton, declaring “more than one or two of today’s designer-wine drinkers have a redneck past nipping at their heels”. Actually it’s not so much the grape or the wine itself, it’s the people who drink it and why they drink it that gets up Ben’s nose. It’s also the way in which it has become such a solid part of the corporate wine industry, characterised by excessive use of technology to create the wine.
Ben is not, however, a wine snob. As he declares readily in the book’s conclusion, “my perfect glass of wine is more about supply than exquisite unattainability. My perfect glass of wine is more like a magic pudding” recalling Norman Lindsay’s classic children’s book about the pudding that was always reinventing itself.
“The Perfect Glass Of Wine” was one of my “summer reads” while at home visiting my family in Lismore. Ben writes with an attitude to wine I personally agree with, with authority and with a nice sense of humour which makes for a really enjoyable page-turning experience.
“The Perfect Glass Of Wine (How one man searched the world for heaven in a bottle)” by Ben Canaider. Published by Knopf.