Blurbs penned by a crew as wide-ranging as Keira Knightley, Simon Hopkinson and Caitlin Moran are an early clue that Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew’s debut is not a typical wine book. Much like the pair’s wine mag and much-loved brace of central London restaurants, Noble Rot’s Wine From Another Galaxy is a bullshit-free affair that avoids excessive detail and snobbery to create something that’s accessible to everyone, from rank amateurs to restaurant and wine industry pros.
The book is essentially a collection of mini essays that discuss everything from what makes great wine great and how wine ages to how to order it in a restaurant and what to serve it in. Although primarily aimed at a non-professional audience, there’s a lot here that will be of interest for those in the restaurant business (we’d politely suggest that anyone that still deems it acceptable to serve wine in chunky stemless glasses should take a good look at Noble Rot’s ‘Non-Negotiable Wine Glass Requirements’ list).
The book is opinionated and irreverent in tone but not tediously so, fearlessly debunking many a wine myth. Its latter half is devoted to the Rotters’s Road Trip, a tour of the people and places behind the pair’s favourite wines. The 30 or so essays are undoubtedly inspired by Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route, a landmark book that apparently forms part of the induction for all Noble Rot restaurant staff. The section includes wine growing regions - including Champagne, Penedès, Cornas and Northern Greece - and cult producers including Emidio Pepe and orange wine pioneer Josko Gravner.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the pair’s background, the book has a magazine-y feel that makes it easy to dip in and out of but it’s beautifully written and packed with insights about wine and the cultures the surround it. Standouts include a piece on bottle art that compares wine labels to record covers (Keeling is a former A&R man) and a refreshingly sensible article on wine and food matching. Noble Rot's serendipitous origin story, a forward from The Sportsman chef patron Stephen Harris (who oversees the food at Noble Rot) and The Sunday Times critic Marina O’Loughlin (an investor in the restaurant) rounds out the package.