Food Adventures

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vino Italiano

I love learning about wine, especially wine that pairs with what I cook. But until a couple of weeks ago, most of my wine knowledge came from trying out different wines and deciding what I like or don't like or from going to wine tastings, where you can more easily compare different wines. Reading books about wine was not something I found useful; most books about wine are written in a language I find too technical. That has changed!

I recently discovered Vino Italiano by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch, a wonderful and very readable book on Italian wine. Not only is the book written in a language that I find accessible, but it also presents information about the different wines in context: it talks about the region, its climate, food and people, and offers stories of both cooks and wine producers. The stories make the wine and grape information more memorable and easier to understand for people like me who do not enjoy the technical jargon of the wine world.

The book discusses the wines of all 21 Italian regions, including the most significant grapes grown and the most significant producers and types of wine. It also offers suggestions for wines to try (ones you can get in the U.S.). The discussion of each region ends with a brief discussion of the food of the region and a representative dish and provides the recipe, a perfect way for people like me to broaden their wine knowledge.

My favorite new discovery so far: Amarone. This more complex relative of Valpolicella, which has become the house wine around here, is made from grapes that have been dried a little, so it tastes a lot richer. The bitter note that gives it its name is subtle and pleasant. It's a wine that demands attention. Try it with meat dishes or cheese. It's divine.

So, whether you are just beginning to learn about wine or would simply like to know more about Italian wine, get this book and happy sipping.


At 8:36 PM CDT, Blogger Michael said...

I also just recently discovered Amarone--had a great one by a producer named Mussella recently. It had the weight and richness that a lot of Napa and Barossa/McClaren Vale reds have (CA and AUS), but with the definite earthiness of an Italian red. (I've gotten fond of Aglianico too...)

So how has life treated you since the old UNext days? I've gone and done the English professor thing after all (it seemed like the thing to do, and has turned out OK so far). It pays for the wine, anyway!


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