With chapters such as A Carafe of Red, Storm in a Champagne Flute, Malmsey: A Greek Classic, Zinfandel: California’s Own, Wine and Food: The Myth of a Perfect Match, A Silent Revolution: Organic and Biodynamic Wines, and Simple Pleasures: Warm Bread and Hot Chocolate, among others, Gerald Asher takes on an idiosyncratic tour of 30 years of wine writing. Drawn primarily from articles written originally for Gourmet Magazine, the book is at once wine education, wine history, and a personal memoir, skipping from subject to subject with almost careless abandon. Since most of us approach wine the same way, it is both comforting and maddening, albeit in a pleasurable way. I would have preferred a more linear approach, but was also taken by the breadth and scope of Asher’s writing in this book.
The phrases penned by Asher are often very evocative:
- "I can only say that one glass of champagne will raise the morale and two will fuse the most ill-assorted group into a dinner party."
- "It had a mild and unobtrusive sweetness and an aroma and flavor that made me think of a confit of grapes."
- "It is thought that much, though not all, of the difference between the way American and French barrels affect the taste of the wine has less to do with the oak itself than with the way it is handled."
- "But, in absorbing alcohol converted from fruit-sugar two centuries earlier, I was actually sharing calories transmitted in the solar energy that had also warmed the faces of Thomas Jefferson and Marie-Antoinette."
A real pleasure to read.
Gerald Asher is author of The Pleasures of Wine, Vineyard Tales, Wine Journal, and On Wine. As an international wine merchant, he was decorated by the French Government in 1974 for his contribution to French viticulture, in 2001 was named Outstanding Wine Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation, and in 2009 was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of the University of California Press. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.
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