Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Ultimate Wine Book?

Thudding in at 8.21 pounds, 926 pages, the revised edition of Wine stops a door cold and doubles as a weight for deadlift exercises. It is a formidable use of paper.

Wine is also a great read. The concise, unassuming title is deceptive--unadorned with self-aggrandizing attachments as "Bible", "Encyclopedia" or "Atlas". Yet, few if any topic on wine escapes its pages. I never thought it possible but it rivals the two go-to tomes on my shelf: The World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine--perhaps even surpassing both.

Want to know about French oak forests and barrel-making? It's there. Biodynamics? Yup. Grape varietals? Check. Wine tasting methodology? Covered. Viticulture, including pruning methods and grape ripening? Yes. Terroir? You bet.

But the meat of the book are the chapters detailing the world's winegrowing regions with visually illustrative maps and color photographs of vineyards and producers. Major and smaller wine regions are treated with equal passion. Mediterranean countries with long winegrowing histories--Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco--are discussed well, instead of skipped over as in other books.

But what I love most of all is pages are crammed with information. Sidebars highlight key topics as the confusing German Wine Law, obscure regions as the Coteaux de Pierrevert in Provence, acreage of each appellation in the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, and sustainable winegrowing trends in California.

Edited by Andre Domine, who has been a contributor to the Culinaria series, and authored by him and seventeen other wine writers, this is a masterful wine book that is hard to put down despite its heft.

Edited by Andre Domine
Published 2008 H.F. Ullmann $59.95

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