“First Big Crush”…Not Your Father’s Wine Book
Eric Arnold once sold a joke to Jay Leno for $50. Oh yea, he’s also an editor at The Wine Spectator magazine. He also happens to be the author of a new "wine book" (that’s a loose explanation of what the book really is) that is about as different as it could be from your typical book in the wine genre.
"First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine…Down Under" is a chronicle of Arnold’s year in New Zealand as a cellar rat at Allen Scott Wines. There is an "On The Road.." quality to this chronicle of Arnold’s year punching down, doing the dirty work and immersing himself in the ways of New Zealanders and their wine industry.
Arnold writes in no holds barred style with a stiff dose of modesty and regular self assessment. It’s a refreshing style for a wine book and a wine writer.
Along the way we are introduced to various characters, some you’d want to know and others you are happy that Arnold took the bullet with the encounter.
His section on experiencing the New Zealand wine competitions will be eye opening for every reader. There are no dirty secrets in this book, just dirty revelations.
You are going to learn a lot about the wine business and working in the wine business by reading this book. In fact, anyone considering getting into the wine business, be it in production or administration, would do well to pick up "First Big Crush" and read it cover to cover:
"Vineyard work sucks…I have no idea why, but many people who drink wine think that making it is some sort of relaxed, cushy lifestyle. And I don’t understand it , because I’ve never eaten a juicy steak and imagined how romantic and luxurious a life I’d have if I started raising cattle in Wyoming. Similarly, I’ve never met anyone who got a massage and moved to Sweden or shot heroin and moved to Afghanistan."
That’s not to say that after reading "First Big Crush" you won’t want to still be involved in the wine business, despite Arnold’s warnings. In fact, I suspect a lot of folks will read it, smirk at the the various difficulties and odd experiences that he encounters during his year in New Zealand, and be even more inspired to join the ranks. Still, read the book if you fall into this category.
Reading Arnold’s outstanding reporting for The Wine Spectator you wouldn’t necessarily guess this kind of
book was inside him. Arnold tends to report on the dollars and cents, business and industry issues that surround the wine business. This book is something altogether different, though it does include smatterings of that type of subject matter. But when it does show up it’s much more of an aside.
I was struggling to recall something similar in the wine genre to compare to "First Big Crush". I couldn’t find it. There is nothing pompous about the book, there are no endless lists of wines and reviews and there is very little formal educational lecturing. The only thing comparable to this work are those more recent books on what the popular wine regions are REALLY like. Like those books, this one relies on first person experience. However, Arnold’s work relies even more on first HAND experience. And by the end of the book you’ll note those are pretty dirty hands.
This is good, fun stuff!
"First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine…Down Under"
By Eric Arnold