I’m no stranger to sarcastic reviews, nor do I think in most cases a riposte is called for, but Roger Lewis’s review of Quartet’s recent reprint of Waugh on Wine in The Times (August 3) is a bitch too far, I feel.
After what is mostly an appreciative account of Bron’s witty, perceptive thoughts on what constitutes decent wine, etc., describes Bron’s ‘genius, like his father’s, was for being abusive, not informative.’ Lewis’s parting shot however is to suggest our publishing the anthology ‘as the most pointless reprint in the history of publishing’ since we did not correct the few addresses of wine merchants, informing the reader instead that up-to-date information was easily available at Google.com. Lewis suggests I’m ‘having a laugh.’
What I was doing was reprinting a collection of writings still considered by many wine critics as a classic, in its original form. It is not presented as a guide for today’s would be wine connoisseurs – a consumer aid – but as a masterpiece of wine journalism at its finest, issued almost as it first appeared nearly forty years ago with the original information still in situ, rather like the taverns mentioned in Cobbett’s Rural Rides.
After all, even though the Holly Bush at Headley is still serving ale, there’s plenty more hostelries that Cobbett visited which now lie under the motorways and high speed train lines. Will Mr Lewis think Penguin Classics are having a laugh?