Wine: More books worth giving
Here are some more noteworthy new wine books issued just in
time for holiday gift giving, in addition to the three I wrote about for this week's column.
"Secrets of the Sommeliers," by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay (Ten Speed Press, $33). Rajat Parr is one of the country's leading sommeliers, leading the wine programs for the Michael Mina group of restaurants, including Bourbon
Steak here in D.C. Parr and San Francisco-based wine writer Jordan Mackay give us an insider's perspective on wine. There is plenty of practical advice on food pairings: why white wine is generally better than red with cheese, for example, or why pinot noir with salmon is a no-no. And they give tips on how to cultivate sommeliers and winemakers so your next trip to wine country won't be limited to the tasting room experience.
Readers will put this book down with a better understanding
of their restaurant experience, and may head put to dine with a little less fearof the somm. And while we don't typically dine at home the way we do in restaurants, our own wine choices as "home sommeliers" will be better informed from this book.
"Grandi Vini: An Opinionated Tour of Italy's 89 Finest Wines,"
by Joseph Bastianich (Clarkson Potter, $25). Bastianich is the son of cookbook author
and TV chef Lidia Bastianich and business partner with star chef Mario Batali in
an empire of Italian restaurants. He also owns a winery on northern Italy. In
Grandi Vini, he introduces us to his favorite wines and winemakers of Italy. He
favors small, family-run enterprises that produce wines in a big, modern style,
and he can find elegance and grace in wine with whoppingly high alcohol. Yet Bastianich's
prose is anything but grandiose. His brief vignettes about the winemakers are
charmingly written; I met several winemakers in these pages whom I would love
to meet over a glass of their wine.
"Opus Vino: More Than 4,000 of the World's Greatest Wineries and Their Wines," Jim Gordon, editor-in-chief (DK, $75). Normally I will pass on books that seem designed to give me a hernia, but this massive tome impresses because of its well-informed writing and its attractive and informative maps. Any book like this, no matter how encyclopedic, is going to be selective in its choices of which wineries to include, but Gordon's team of writers does a good job in selecting new wineries that are raising quality in each region. And unlike the disappointing reference book published by the Culinary Institute of America, Opus Vino's discussion of wines from the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States is up to date and well-informed.