Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wine Book Club #1 - Vino Italiano The Regional Wines of Italy

Today marks the inaugural blog posting for the recently-formed Wine Book Club. I suppose since it takes less time to drink a bottle of wine than it does to read a book about it, the plans are for bi-monthly online discussions of the chosen title, rather than the monthly discussions taking place for Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Without further adieu, here’s what I have to say about the very first book chosen for the Club, thanks to David McDuff of McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail. For information from his site specific to the Wine Book Club, click here.

The complete title of this work by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch is Vino Italiano, The Regional Wines of Italy. It’s the revised and updated edition copyright 2005 (the original was released in 2002).

The authors of this comprehensive volume have organized the book into three logical and well-organized sections: Part I discusses the history and current state of Italian wine, along with an overview of the grapes used, rules and regulations, and the export process. Part II covers the major wine regions, one by one. Part III contains five appendices including a glossary, description of the grapes, a directory of the various wine zone demarcations, listing of producers, and finally, resources.

Each chapter within Part II that covers the various wine regions throughout Italy is arranged in the same manner: An anecdote starts it off to give the reader an introduction to and feel of the region; an overview of the wines/grapes of that region by grape category (white, red, sweet, sparkling); a section of fast facts about the region; suggested tastings; and a discussion of the food of that region including an appropriate recipe. A map of the region accompanies each chapter, also.

My favorite parts of the book were the anecdotes that started off each regional chapter. This was a great way to provide a feel of the local color of the region and set the tone for the remainder of the chapter. I also found the descriptions of the wines made by the various producers to be quite mouth-watering. The authors are great ambassadors for the wines of Italy, that’s for sure.

Overall this is one incredible labor of love presented by the authors. Does it tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about Italian wine? It sure seems like it. It’s chock-full of information, presented in a readable, organized manner that makes this not only superb reference material, but interesting pleasure reading, too.

Does the book get you thirsty? It certainly does. My experience with Italian wines has been very limited, most of it in drinking insipid, diluted Pinot Grigio that made me stare at the wine glass and wonder if I had really gotten what I had ordered because it was so bad. While the authors lament that so much of this type of wine leaves the country, they also point out that there’s plenty of good stuff, too. And the way they describe the good stuff – wine with character and flavor, reflecting the regional terroir, made by caring people who love what they do – made me very thirsty.

Is this book worth buying? You bet. If you have any interest whatsoever in Italian wine, the $14.93 Amazon charges will be money well spent. That is a bargain price for the wealth of information you’ll get from this massive, well-written volume.

Without a doubt this book rates two thumbs up.


David McDuff said...

Thanks for participating, MW. I'm glad to see you found the book to be better than the average Pinot Grigio.

Anonymous said...

Very nice write-up, Rickey! Makes me want to go buy the book. (Yep - I didn't show up for class this time around. Send me to detention!)

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, MW. This is a great review, and I think the book is faring best with folks (like you and me) who still feel like they have a lot to learn about Italian wine! Even so, it's probably going to be more popular as a reference book!

MonkuWino said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm one of those that Dr. Debs mentioned who still has a LOT to learn about Italian wine. This book is a great starting point and at a bargain price, no less!