17.11.14

a few words on wine books

Wine drinking can be such an adventure. Excuse me if I sound a little sobby over this. I'm just really into wine at the moment. I'm not too sure about the how and why it happened. But some time ago, it hit me, wine hit me. The talk, the stories, the origin, histories. Everything. I'm light years away from being knowledgeable on the subject: still not able to distinguish a Chardonnay from a Pinot Grigio. But you can't blame me for trying. Right now it's all about trying to discover for myself what I like, and getting to know a bit more about the background of the wine. Trying a lot of different varieties from different areas. And also very important for me, how best to combine it with food. But like I said, I'm light years away: I don't know half as much as I would like to know, and not half of what I know is more than what the next person might know.

Anyway, about the adventure, what I'm trying to say is that when you open a bottle of something you've never tasted before it's such fun to try and discover all the different flavours that can be smelled and tasted in a glass. Distinguishing between the obvious red fruit flavours and try and describe what else can be sensed.

This whole wine thing needs a bit of guidance, it's easy to just indulge yourself and drink and drink and drink. Not very healthy and quite expensive. So I bought a bunch of books over the past few months, different styles and subjects, all good fun.

So here we are, these are five books I've been enjoying on wine!

Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch

This book contains huge amounts of information about Italian wine. It's kind of like a reference book, but there's stories in there too. Stories of their visits to the different wine regions in Italy. The book is really quite comprehensive: each chapter starts with a story, thereafter an extensive description of the wines of the region (vini bianchi, vini rossi, vini spumante e dolci) talking through the soil, wine-making methods, wine-makers and histories. This all gets a factual conclusion where everything you might want to know about the region is neatly lined up.
And of course there are tasting notes (degustazioni) of the most famous wines home to the region.
The chapters end with a local recipe; a Friulian cheese tart, Sorrento-style gnocchi or Antipasti Emiliano-Romagnolo. Hungry yet?

It definitely has me motivated to pick up more Italian wine. Especially local grape varieties. This is harder than I thought, it's mostly Chianti, Montepulciano and Pinot Grigio's in the stores around here. I'll have to keep my eyes wide open for the interesting stuff!


The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson


This definitely is a reference book. Written by two very famous wine writers: Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson. Not something you will read cover to cover, but definitely a good resource.

Because the world of wine is such a big and complex one, I decided to focus on one of the chapters at the time, and then try to dig for more information online. A little study if you wish to call it that. I started with Bordeaux and will work my way through the other French provinces, onto Italy, Spain, maybe go a few thousand miles east to Australia and New Zealand, returning to Europe for a bit about Austria and Germany. Etcetera.

My dad still has Hugh Johnson's wine documentary on tape (VHS that is) and it still works. I love the slow but in depth way of documentary making, nothing like the clean and fast way they would do it now. A recommendation within a recommendation.


Through a Sparkling Glass: An A-Z of the Wonderland of Wine by Andrea Frost



There's a few great chapters that handle quite technical stuff about wine, but they're written in a very approachable and witty way, making it a good read for wine lovers as well as newby wine lovers (like me).
I am not looking to read a book entirely made of tasting notes, that's hard stuff to read. This book is light, no pompous wine lingo. Good read!

The author has a blog as well, I admire her style and approach to the subject!

http://www.newrubypress.com/


The Juice: Vinous Veritas by Jay McInerney


This was the first book on wine I've read. I must admit I was slightly disappointed  when I looked up the wines he mentions and I found out that they will forever be out of my reach. But his writing style is so vivid and compelling, it really does motivate to at least try the cheapest version of what he mentions.


A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine by Jay McInerney


Another book by mr McInerney. And again, his storytelling skills are good! Like it, love it. Stories about white Bordeaux, Alsatian Riesling, travels and restaurants.

Again the wines he writes about are not particularly in my reach. His favourite white, a Condrieu doesn't sell for less than €30. But I do very much want to try it, and it's not like I don't have 30 euros, and I will not do it every week. So, for the sake of wine education I will buy a bottle in the future. Hoping it will be like an angel peeing on my tongue, whatever that means.