Book Review: Peter Sichel’s “The Secrets of my Life”

Peter Sichel book review

Peter Sichel’s « The Secrets of my Life » … an autobiography of the person who once oversaw annual sales of 30 million bottles of Blue Nun Liebfraumilch. Freshly published in Germany, this is the translated copy unfortunately. Which could be reason why language and style come across hardly better than in a student’s essay. Still the translator can’t possibly take all the blame for an utterly boring and very detailed recital of a certainly most exciting life.

Born in Mainz to a Jewish wine trading dynasty Sichel lived the life of a refugee, a post-war CIA agent and finally became the driver of one of the world’s most notorious wine brands.

I had hoped for insights and stories about the pre-war wine trade, the involvement of German jews in exports, the history of Liebfraumilch, the different LFM brands fighting for market share, or details on Blue Nun’s success and demise… yet the book offers very little to satisfy any interest in wine history.

There are few highlights, such as how Blue Nun got marketed to success by promoting its food-friendliness (“Goes well with Chicken”) or how already in the 60’s the three tier system stifled US wine imports and trade. But most of the interesting parts get drowned in endless and boring details about family members, friends, relations, and tips on wine appreciation that could have been my uncle’s.

Defo not our cuppa.

So why am I posting this…  Well, maybe you’ve got some tips on literature covering pre-war wine trade in Germany?