05 December 2008

Book Review: Wine

Happy Repeal Day! On December 5, 1933, two thirds of the states ratified the 21st Amendment overturning Prohibition, meaning that citizens could once again legally purchase alcohol, rather than having to rely on a dangerous black market of moonshiners, rum smugglers, the mafia, and Canadians. In celebration of 75 years of freedom from the teetotalers, let's learn more about this site's favorite adult fermented beverage.

I received a copy of Wine by André Dominé, the 2008 translation of the German original Wein. (Great minimalist design on the cover--no doubt as to the book's subject.) The information ranges from general for the novice to microscopic for the enthusiast, all in one volume. The first 150 pages contain chapters about winemaking and wine history. The next 350 pages are devoted to France, Italy, and Germany, and the remaining 350 pages cover the entire rest of the winemaking world. It's definitely focused on the Old World. The chapter on "Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, England and Wales" is the same length as the one devoted to all of North America: 46 pages.

While it's arranged geographically rather than by grape, you can look up specific grapes in the index. Actually there are four separate indicies for Subject, Places, People, and Producers, which will make it easy to find what you're looking for depending on your individual method of looking at wine. In each region, specific producers are featured along with images of some of the labels.

It is a big book, weighing in at over 8 lbs. and 900 pages, all set in a tasteful Garamond. I'd hesitate to call it a coffee table book; it's a serious reference work. This means that it's chock full of wine data, beautiful photography, and informative maps. While I know the main wine regions of Europe fairly well, I need further study in the subdivisions within those regions. This book will be an excellent tool in learning more about the various wines I bring home, as well as developing a better appreciation of terroir.

I plan to keep the book in my kitchen where I can browse through it randomly--after all, it's no fun to read an encyclopedia from start to finish. I've been nibbling away at the Larousse Gastronomique for ten years and I'm still learning things. I also plan to have it on hand for dinner parties, where it will be easier to pull out and show something to a dinner guest in a way that will keep them at the table and part of the conversation rather than shuttling them off to a computer to look it up. And hopefully that person will start browsing and discover something new in the process.

If you're interested in this as a Christmas gift for the wine lover in your life, or as an addition to your own library, you can buy it from my Amazon store.

Cover image courtesy of Langenscheidt Publishing Group


Samantha Dugan said...

You just gave me a gift idea for that, "has everything" person in my life...my boss. Seriously this is perfect, thanks for the tip!

Benito said...


Then convince the boss to buy a copy for the wine shop. Not only will it be useful for customers, but you can frighten new employees: "Study this until you can draw all the rivers of France from memory and pronounce Trockenbeerenauslese flawlessly."

Samantha Dugan said...

Practical and slightly evil...I like it!

The Wine Commonsewer said...

I put that on my Christmas list.