American Wino A Fun New Wine Book Wine Snobs Will Hate

The Wine Ambassador is all about making wine fun and easy to relate to, so when a book like "American Wino" comes along, we want to do everything we can to tell you about it! This is a great book review from Forbes that offers you a peek inside this great read!

American Wino A Fun NewWine Book Wine Snobs Will Hate

Original article found on April 5th, 2016, book Review by Larry Olmsted

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the famed Judgment of Paris, the seminal moment in winemaking history when America’s fledgling California wine industry bested the finest first growth Bordeaux of France in a blind tasting mainly judged by the French themselves. This was to the dominance of winemaking excellence by France what Waterloo was to its army, a loss so poignant it even spawned a full-length movie to retell it, Bottle Shock. The Judgment forever altered the world wine landscape, putting California wines, and in years following, the entire “New World,” on the oenophile’s radar. Four decades later, American wine isn’t just California – wine is being made in all 50 U.S. states, including Hawaii and Alaska (Wyoming, the smallest producer, has four wineries).

Veteran spirits journalist, former Sirius radio host and Playboy nightlife columnist Dan Dunn decided to take a peak beyond the usual wine suspects, California, Washington and Oregon, and deeply explore the current nature of America’s winemaking scene and the role of wine in American culture in general.


The result is Dunn’s latest book, American Wino, just released today, and to be perfectly clear upfront, it is not for everyone: it is rife with vulgarity and sexual references, makes strongly opinionated statements about popular music, and repeatedly mocks wine snobs and wine snobbery. I for one, really enjoyed it. Wine Enthusiast magazine described it as one of the “intoxicating books you won’t be able to put down.”

It is worth noting that Dunn worked closely with the late Hunter S. Thompson, and is a protégé of sorts. As such, the book is done in Thompson’s first person, all-in, let’s drink a lot and see what happens, political-correctness-be-damned style, participatory journalism at its sharpest edge. It is about the American wine industry in much the same way that Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a tourist guide to the Nevada city.

But this is only partly a book about wine: it is a wine soaked road trip memoir painting Dunn’s battle with personal demons on an educational wine canvas. These include the death of his brother, death of his dog, the unwanted end of the most serious relationship of his lifetime and the loss of true love, and the culmination of decades of family dysfunction and insecurity. This is a very personal book about life, loss, and personal transformation, juxtaposed with a very significant wine plot. The full title is American Wino: A Tale of Reds, Whites and One Man’s Blues.

“I don’t look at it as a wine book,” Dunn told Philadelphia Weekly. “I’ve described it as Eat, Pray, Love meets Sideways meets On the Road.”

The plot, or rationale, for the book is fairly straightforward. Dunn is an accomplished and prolific adult beverage writer and author, specializing in beer and spirits, whose work has graced the pages (print or web) of everything from Playboy and Maxim to Esquire and Food & Wine. But after attending countless wine tastings and culinary events, he arrives at the conclusion that while he knows an awful lot about beer and spirits, wine is his professional black hole, so much so that he has become adept at faking it, using a mélange of colorful verbiage like layered, complex, buttery, and even his own made up word, which he throws in to keep true experts honest (almost none notice). He details at length how any reader can group these terms together to feign wine snobbery knowledge. So to rectify this, he decides to set out on a months long, coast to coast and back again road trip into the heart and soul of American wine making, visiting wineries all across the nation, in order to become an expert.

For wine fans, the core of the book is its look at the hidden side of American winemaking, which is to say everywhere other than the West Coast, though he visits California, Oregon and Washington. As Dunn rightly points out, most people – and ironically, especially most wine experts – have never tasted wine from Vermont or Alabama or Louisiana. He has. Even those knowledgeable about wine are not likely to know that Texas is now the third biggest destination for wine tourism, with dozens of high quality wineries. Dunn makes you want to run out and try wines from Texas, and for pure wine education, the Virginia chapter is the best in the book. He takes us to virtually meet ultra-passionate wine makers in New Mexico and Michigan and pretty much everywhere else, and boldly proclaims that after California, Oregon and Washington, Arizona is the nation’s fourth most important wine making state.

The Wine Ambassador is building a community for wine lovers just like you. Be sure and check out the latest offerings, articles and recipes we’ve recently added tot he site.