Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy By Joseph Bastianich, David Lynch is an excellent Reference on Italian wines. I wish more countries were covered in such a thorough manner. I say Reference with a capital "R" for a reason. This book does not have a central narrative and thus can be challenging to read cover to cover. I am glad now that I've familiarized myself with its structure to have this book as a reference for when I shop for Italian wine. You may notice that the previous phrase is code for .. I did not finish this book... However, the first section was a quick read for me. It details the basics of Italian wine history, laws, and labeling rules. Very useful stuff you put to work right away in your local wineshop. Part two explores all 21 regions of Italy in detail. Each region is lovingly detailed and is written as a stand alone section and immerses the reader in the people, culture, foods, and history in addition to the main varietals from that region. The Fast Facts section for each region is a great breakdown that would be helpful to copy and take to your local wineshop to inform your purchases.
The first great use of this book was for Wine Blogging Wednesday when we covered wines from Fruili. It was a great reference and provided a wonderful context in which to consume the wine. From reading, I learned which DOC's were known for better wines so I selected a wine from a specific DOC, Collio, based on my reading. Now whenever I encounter an Italian wine, I can later go and read up on the region, the expected flavors for that varietal and compare it with my experience.
One of my favorite aspects of this book were the descriptions of typical flavor profiles for varietals grown in the region and the basic winemaking techniques. This is the kind of information I find immediately useful because it enhances my tasting experience and my ability to discern which varietals I may prefer prior to purchasing. I also enjoyed that regional recipes were included at the end of each region's section. The flip side of that is my one complaint with the book. I wish there were more recipes at the end of each region's section! One section had a recipe for wild boar... Realistically, when am I going to make wild boar anything ? I wish there had been a more easily realized recipe associated with each region where I could obtain the ingredients. Considering how carefully the authors made sure that the wines they mentioned are available in the US, it would have been great to pick recipes that had the same consideration for ingredients. Mostly I 'm asking for additional authentic regional recipes since reading about each wine region made me a bit hungry and inspired to cook.
For best results here's how I would prescribe your dose of Vino Italiano.
- Browse through a section on one of the wine regions just enough to help inform your purchase of a wine from that region. Once home, open said wine and enjoy a glass while curled up with the book and learn more your wine and its region of origin. If you are the ambitious sort, make the suggested recipe that is at the end of each wine region's section. If you have decided to make a recipe go back to wine purchasing step and get a second bottle to have with your completed dinner. The first bottle is inspirational for the cook and an apertif for your guest.
Thanks to Dr Debs for starting the Wine Book Club and I look forward to what is in store for us next. I hear solid rumors its much shorter and will will be announced on the first Tuesday of March by host Tim Elliott of Winecast.
Thanks to David McDuff, of McDuff's Food and Wine Trail for hosting this month. The discussion is also ongoing over at on Facebook, or Shelfari.