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Wine Man Can Jump

Wine Man Can Jump

New Zealander John Saker had a stellar career as a basketball player, captaining the Tall Blacks in 1984 and playing university basketball in the United States and professional basketball in France.

Today he’s a sought-after wine writer, with an acclaimed new book called How to Drink a Glass of Wine (Awa Press, $24.99).

How did Saker get from shooting hoops to (as he describes in his book) jumping into wine vats, chewing the fat with wizened Hungarian vintners, and enticing New Zealanders to try exciting new wine varieties?

‘Largely,’ he says, ‘by accident. When I turned 40, I decided that each year I’d learn a new skill. The first year I took up, and rapidly gave up, learning Mandarin Chinese. The second year I turned to wine, which seemed a lot easier. Eight years later I’m still learning.’

In fact, Saker came from a family where, back in the days when wine was a rarity in New Zealand homes, his mother cooked with it and his father cellared it. (There’s a tragic story in the book about the premature destruction of one treasured Saker wine trove.)

As a teenager he collected wine labels. As a young man he became rather more interested in the contents of the bottles.

How to Drink a Glass of Wine brims with anecdotes from life on the wine trail - from exploring French vineyards to blind-tasting Martinborough wines.

Fellow wine writer Keith Stewart describes it as ‘That rare thing – a book about wine that gives as much pleasure as drinking it does.’

Martin Brown, London-based founder of internationally renowned wine site (and a fellow kiwi) says, ‘John Saker writes with the passion and perception of the committed connoisseur, offering the vigorous and exciting sensations we expect from top wines and top wine books.’

And How to Drink a Glass of Wine answers some fascinating questions, including:

Which wine is the strongest aphrodisiac?

Why do people jump naked into wine vats?

How do you drink a wine that’s 420 years old?

What award-winning New Zealand vineyard began with a grape cutting found in a gumboot?


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