As we gaily (or sometimes frantically) shop our way through the holiday season, it is sometimes difficult to determine what to get for the wine lover in your life. Sure, there is the obvious (wine). But there are only so many wine carriers, rabbit ear openers, decanters and wine stoppers that one person can accumulate. Here’s another idea: a book about wine or wine regions. One of the best that I have read is Natalie MacLean’s new book: Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines.
Natalie is a Canadian wine writer who embarked on a journey around the world to meet wine makers who make good, well-priced wines (wouldn’t you love her job)? Australia, South Africa, Sicily, Provence-she’s got them all covered. Her writing style provides a great sense of place for each of the locations she visited, and her lyrical descriptions of the wines she enjoyed made me want to run out and buy them (in other words, I’ll have what she’s having). At the same time, she is honest about some of the shortcomings exhibited by certain winemakers at various points in history (such as the poor quality of South African wines when trade sanctions were imposed during apartheid). She also talks about the great meals that she enjoyed in each location (did I mention that I want her job)? Best of all, she focuses on wines that are affordable and approachable.
Even after your favorite wine lover finishes the book, they can still use it as a wine and food resource. At the end of each chapter, Natalie gives a list of her favorite bargain priced wines from each region, a list of food and wine parings, an outline of books about the wines of that region, and a terrific “related reading” list of non-wine books about each area. There are also links on her website (http://www.nataliemaclean.com/) where you can find a treasure trove of wine suggestions and recipes (which sound delicious, although Americans will have to convert the recipes from Celsius to Fahrenheit). This is a dense yet enjoyable book that is meant to be slowly savored, like a good glass of wine. If you know someone who is an active (or armchair) traveler and wine lover, this would be a great gift!
Disclosure-I received a complimentary review copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
Beth Christian, Burlington County Regional Editor, subsisted primarily on cheeseburgers and liverwurst sandwiches during childhood and refused to try most new foods. Her culinary horizons were expanded during her college days in Schenectady, New York, where she learned the joys of trying slow-simmered Italian dishes, Szechuan cuisine, and everything in between. When not engaged in the practice of law in Monmouth County, Beth is busy scouting out interesting restaurants, farmer’s markets and food purveyors near her home in Burlington County. Beth’s primary dining sidekick is her husband John, but she also enjoys having her daughter Meghan, son Michael and her wonderful friends come along for the ride. Email Beth at BChristian@JerseyBites.com