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 The Wine Bible, 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.