This past Christmas, I was given a bible as a holiday gift. No, not that Bible'the volume I received was Karen MacNeil’s wonderful The Wine Bible ($19.95). The book had risen to the top of my Christmas wish list after I’d learned of it from Log Haven’s general manager and wine guru Ian Campbell. After perusing The Wine Bible, I was tempted to swipe Ian’s copy, but the thick and weighty 910-page tome was too super-sized to hide in my trousers. Thankfully, my honey came through at Christmastime and I’ve been reading The Wine Bible ever since.
Reading the author’s acknowledgements in The Wine Bible, you quickly realize that Karen MacNeil is one well-connected lady of wine. There are literally hundreds of thank yous from the author aimed at an international coven of wine world movers and shakers. Winemakers, importers, wine merchants, wine consultants, writers and wine commissioners from around the globe'they’re all there. So it’s really no wonder that The Wine Bible is so rich in detail, not to mention amazingly accurate.
As for the author herself, Karen MacNeil is a wine consultant and writer whose articles have appeared in publications like Wine Spectator, Sunset, Food & Wine, The New York Times, Fine Cooking and Saveur, to name a few. She is also the director of the Culinary Institute of America’s wine program in Napa Valley. The book’s jacket blurbs come from some heavy-hitters as well. Bobby Flay says about The Wine Bible, “Finally, a guide to wine that has all the answers! A classic.” And Union Square CafÃ©’s Danny Meyer'no wine novice himself'calls The Wine Bible “the most informative and entertaining book I’ve ever seen on the subject.” I can’t say I disagree.
The Wine Bible is nothing if not comprehensive. But unlike other titles such as The World Atlas of Wine or The Global Encyclopedia of Wine, this book is more than merely a thorough reference tool. It’s actually enjoyable to read. But rather than read it from cover to cover, I’ve taken to randomly opening up my copy of The Wine Bible each night before bedtime and allowing the book to take me to places like the Finger Lakes region of New York State, the steepest vineyard in the world (Germany’s Calmont, near the Mosel) or Portugal, where I learned that the wine industry in that country was “dramatically modernized” upon joining the European Union in 1986.
After a hundred or so pages devoted to topics like “How Wine is Made,” “Getting to Know Grapes,” and “Tasting Wine Like a Professional,” the balance of the book'the next 800 pages'is devoted to wines of the world, beginning (not surprisingly) in France and ending in Argentina, with excursions to South Africa, New Zealand, Greece, the U.S. and other winemaking countries.
But as I suggested, The Wine Bible is anything but a dull reference read. It’s filled with fun wine-friendly side trips like a short article called “Piedmont’s Other Treasure: White Truffles” or a short section on Chinese contributions to California winemaking.
So don’t wait for Christmas to get your hands on this bible, treat yourself or your significant wine lover to The Wine Bible today.
Sips: Monsoon Thai Bistro owner and wine enthusiast Keith Chan will host a wine dinner on Sunday, July 17 at 7 p.m. The theme of the dinner is “Tour de Franceâ€ and features wine pairings with wines from five regions of France: Loire, Alsace, Beaujolais, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. Included in the pairings will be one of my favorites from Bordeaux: Chateau Bel Air, Haut-Medoc 2000 with panang beef curry and jumbo garlic prawns paired with Trimbach GewÃ¼rztraminer 2001 from Alsace. The cost for the dinner is $20 per person plus $20 for the optional wine pairings. Monsoon Thai Bistro is located at 1615 Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City. Phone 583-5339 for reservations.