Even though it only arrived yesterday I’ve been flicking through its many pages and reading an anecdote here, a tasting note there, a regional description here. I can’t work out what type of book it is supposed to be. There are figures on production quantities and vineyard areas (yawn), so a reference book initially. Some entertaining anecdotes, maps and ‘wine touring advice’ (a travel book?) and a smattering of regional recipes (a cookbook?).
Any book detailing vintages has a problem with lead times. Even before it hits the shelves any vintage data is going to be out of date. In the case of Vino Italiano it stops at 2004. I actually hate talk of vintages; bores me rigid. I was at some wine-makers dinner several months back with some old codger rabbiting on about Bordeaux vintages, boasting about all these different wines in his cellar. He turned to me with some dumb-arsed question about how I must agree with his prognosis on the 2004’s or some-such and I just said I don’t care as I had drunk all mine. The look he gave me was one you reserve for a paedophile murderer; but I digress.
Food and wine matching does interest me; but does listing a wine regions speciality foods and not suggesting a wine to accompany really help anyone? There are recipes with wine suggestions – Branzino Arrosto (Roasted Whole Sea Bass) with a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or Verdicchio di Matelica for example under Le Marche.
As an American book I assume the wine recommendations, there are three or four listed against each region, are for wines readily available in the States. One area I know quite well, Prosecco, lists four producers I have never heard of (no mention of Bisol for example) and none of the regions famous foods are mentioned, although the Prosecco cocktail recipe sounds delicious. They do suggest that for the Venetian-styled Crostini with Grappa Cured Salmon you cure your own fish. Takes 3 days, if you are interested.
The anecdotes and regional backgrounds do make the book a worth-while purchase and there are some interesting food notes too (if you have ever wondered why Vin Santo is served with almond biscotti you will find the answer on page 215). My gripes boil down to one overriding impression – the generalisations run across the board and detract from some good, informative, engaging writing.
Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Jospeh Bastianich & David Lynch is available from Amazon.co.uk for a rather reasonable £7.79.
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