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

21 Nov

By Sharon Kapnick

Every year hundreds of new cookbooks and books about food and books about wine join the thousands already published. But books about food and wine, well, that’s a different story. You can count them on one hand–well, maybe two or three hands. Fortunately, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, the First Couple of Food-and-Wine, have just written their second book that explains and simplifies the task of choosing the right wine and the art of pairing food and wine.

The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine (Little, Brown; 336 pp.; $35) picks up where What to Drink with What You Eat left off by describing the flavors of some 250 wines and varietals. (The authors’ nickname for the new book is “The Flavor Bible for Wine Drinkers.”) It calls upon the familiar language of food as the logical tool to understanding wine. The authors’ premise is that “if you love food, you know flavor — and you can master wine.”

The guide is very timely. While more and more Americans are interested in wine–as of 2011, the U.S. is the world’s number-one consumer of it–many are overwhelmed by the thousands of choices. The authors aim to educate consumers and demystify wine, to take the fear out of buying wine and matching it with food. And they do it so well–clearly, comprehensively, enthusiastically.

The heart of the book is a hefty chapter that profiles more than 250 different wines by grape, region, intensity, acidity, flavors, texture, food pairings, notable producers and more. In this section, you really get to know the characteristics of and differences among the wines. Included, of course, are the usual suspects–Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon–and many of the unusual, like Roter Veltliner, Saperavi, Taurasi, Terroldego, Tsinandali.

To further illuminate this complex subject , they have enlisted the help of dozens of the world’s best sommeliers. Their opinions, advice, passions, loves and secrets play a crucial and entertaining part in this book.

I especially enjoyed the dozens of helpful sidebars on topics like “Matching Wine to Common Dishes,” “Go-To Wines: Sommeliers’ Picks of Wines That Never Let Them Down,” “Choosing a Wine by Flavors,” “Wines Under $15,” “Second Label [Lower-Priced] Wines [from Top Producers].” The last chapter, a valuable resource, features recommended books, websites and magazines.

Bottom Line: With Page and Dornenburg as your guides, you’ll feel comfortable selecting wine, serving it and enjoying it regularly. Their love of wine and food is infectious. They’ve written another must-have book for anyone interested in food-and-wine pairing or furthering their understanding of wine. It’s empowering, eminently browsable and just plain fun.

For more information on the authors, go to  www.becomingachef.com