Review: The Wine Bible

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil
Reviewed by Marisa D’Vari

Imagine yourself at one of the popular new wine bars in your town. You are sipping a glass of red wine perfumed with notes of violet and lavender – a departure from your typical request for a California Cabernet Sauvignon. You take another sip and wonder what combination of soil and sunlight could produce such a succulent wine? Your curiosity roused, you look at the label on the bottle and see it is from the Languedoc – a region in Southern France.

Suddenly, you are bursting with questions about the region. What grape is the wine made from? What is the typical climate of the area? Who are the top winemakers in the region? And if you were going to serve it at a dinner party, what foods would pair best with it?

Karen MacNeil, director of the wine program at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley, has crafted an excellent book in the appropriately named book, , a terrific 910 page resource for amateur and seasoned wine lovers alike. This book starts out with the basics, with MacNeil explaining the elements, such as sun, water, and soil necessary for good wine, and goes on to the more complex issues of wine making and regional styles.

What I liked best about the book is that MacNeil takes you to vineyards all over the world, describing the climate and terrain with such detail and color you will feel as if you are there, by her side, seeing it for yourself. She even introduces you to winemakers, taking you deep into their dank, dark cellars so you can taste the wine for yourself. Then she describes the local cuisine in such tantalizing detail you’ll want to rush out and create your own wine and food pairing based on the succulent flavors described in that chapter.

You will find many ways to use this book. Instead of reading it from beginning to end, you might try to use it as a reference guide. Did you have a great Chianti at a restaurant and want to find out more about the region? Pick up this book and go to the appropriate chapter. Are you having friends over for drinks and want to show off your wine sophistication? Read up on the wines you’ll be serving and surprise your guests with some fun, colorful facts about the wine. Do you love to cook and are you eager to find the perfect pairing for a recipe you just saw in Food & Wine magazine? You’ll find it in this incredible resource.

Here are some other things you will discover:

– how to taste and analyze wine like a professional – how to read a wine label – how to write your own tasting notes – how to store and serve wine – and much more.

With this book in hand, you can set up your own classes, or study sessions. One week you might study the wines of France, and buy wines from the region. The next week, you can do the same thing with Spain. What makes it even more fun is if you can get a partner or some friends together and make a party of it.

So the next time you find yourself in a wine bar, eager to learn more about what you are drinking, or in a wine store, wondering what to buy, sneak a peek in this book. Sooner than you think, friends and co-workers will see you as the go-to wine expert in your circle.

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