Over the course of five videos, Jancis Robinson gives us a basic understanding of wine: how it is made, how to appreciate it, how to properly store, open, and drink it. Robinson is an expert in the field, editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, as well as a columnist for the Wine Spectator. These tapes, though, are not just about the drink; just as interesting is her look into the people behind the wines. Each video introduces a new locale and the people who cultivate the grapes and turn them into nectar. Robinson never speaks down to her viewer–she points out that wine should not be a serious subject, that its point is to provide pleasure–although she is frequently a bit condescending to the vintners in her interviews, making the show all the more amusing. Some of the best moments occur when she offers a winemaker a taste of the competitor’s wine–somehow they never think it is quite up their own standards. She revels in revealing the scandals and failures of the wine world, providing a gossipy feel. While the wine course is more than enough reason to watch this series, the cinematography is spectacular, beautifully highlighting the wine-growing regions of the world–from Australia to Chile to Oregon to Europe. Mixing history and culture with nuts and bolts, this set is a perfect place to start if you have little or no previous knowledge of wine. –Jenny Brown
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