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The Food Lover's Guide to Wine - Review

Celebrating the Pleasures of the Palate

by Karen Page with Andrew Dornenburg

(Little, Brown and Company, 2011)

The Food Lover's Guide to Wine by Karen Page with Andrew Dornenburg

From two-time James Beard Award-winning culinary authorities Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg comes the latest addition to their collection of acclaimed food reference books, The Food Lover's Guide to Wine. Preceded by The Flavor Bible and What to Drink with What You Eat, The Food Lover's Guide to Wine aims to bridge the gap between two of life's most celebrated pleasures in a super accessible manner.

Page and Dornenburg say they "love food first and wine second," thus their book is essentially an insight into wine from a food lover's perspective. To this end, tips on how to maximize the enjoyment of wine are presented in a language familiar to foodies. Those intimidated by obscure-sounding tasting notes will take comfort in the book's assertion that taste is subjective, and that identifying a wine's characteristics by familiar food flavors is perfectly acceptable.

Numerous easy-to-follow charts simplify the process of selecting a wine by offering suggestions based on taste preferences, flavor preferences (making note of the distinction between the two), food pairing and price range, to name a few. While in certain cases specific bottles are suggested, the book mostly sticks to generalizations by blend or, in some cases, region.

The book's appeal spans a wide range of wine expertise, from novice to seasoned oenophile. While sections such as "Ten Secrets for Getting More Pleasure from Wine" are geared toward the amateur, wine experts will find enjoyment in the many comments from their peers about wine selection, including sommeliers such as Jeff Bareilles (Manresa) and Michael Engelmann (Gary Danko).

A substantial middle section of the book contains detailed information about wine varietals, including countries of origin, tips for tasting, color, grapes, weight, volume, acidity, flavors, texture, temperature at which to serve, comparable wines, pairings and producers. "Chapter Five — Wine: The Perfect Complement for Every Course" really gets to the heart of the matter, including charts for matching wine to common dishes and common cuisines, from canapés to soups and raw seafood to red meat.

Though you might be tempted to photocopy a few pages to sneak into the restaurant to assist in making your wine selection, the information in the rest of the book is presented sensibly enough that it imparts memorable general principles to be used as guidelines. Far from reading like a typical reference manual, the playful tone and inclusion of ample color photographs makes it an enjoyable, easy read. Cheers to that!

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