Steadman's winefolk look variously mad, manic, maudlin, fey, bemused, brooding, angry, daft, gruff, sinister, sardonic, ribald, risible, lugubrious—anything but free and easy. His winemen—connoisseurs, critics, vintners, and the like—are as beaky as toucans. His ''wine critic'' is a study in smug imbecility. Beards and moustaches abound, most of them seemingly composed of scraggy clumps of pampas grass. There's lots of hair, all wild. The legendary Angelo Gaja looks like Lorenzo de Medici, with a nose that combines those of Pinocchio and Bob Hope. Other distinguished Italian winemakers look like mafiosi or evil cardinals. He creates a whole new mythology of German wines, with multiheaded dragons, many-eyed monsters, bloody miracles—and Helga, the fair wine maiden, who skips delicately in flowing raiment, a boozy floozy of 200 kilos. Though he does include a few serene, impressionistic landscapes, Steadman mostly seems to believe that nothing succeeds like excess.