Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.
-Ernest Hemingway

I recently received a copy of Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner, from his publicist Aimee Bianca, at YC Media. I promised her that I would take a look at it, but made no promises to review or feature it on the blog. After reading the book, I knew I would do a review and give it a showcase on the blog.

Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner

Now, I am by no means a wine aficionado, in fact, I rarely drink wine, because unfortunately since having surgery, I have difficulty absorbing it. I did however grow up in an Italian household, where wine was a staple. My Uncle Ralph would even make his own wines, and my father was known to cut a peach or two and immerse it in some red wine, and have that for his dessert on a beautiful summer night.

My children however, did not inherit my genes, and are wine lovers. My daughter Lauren as part of her course study at Cornell’s School of Hotel Management was required to take their wine tasting course and from what I hear, it is one of the most difficult courses at the University. My son Steven belongs to a wine collector’s club, which in and of itself is interesting as he doesn’t yet have a job, but that’s another story!

That being said, my knowledge of wine is that it comes in red and white, and the champagne has bubbles in it. After reading Matt’s book Heard it Through the Grapevine, I am now on my way to becoming a sommelier. What a phenomenal book for someone who wants to learn about the basics of wine. This book covers everything in basic and easy to understand terminology.

Matt Skinner is a young Australian who has been involved in the wine industry since he was 18 years old. He moved from Australia to England where he got a job with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, and where he now oversees all of the wine operations for the entire international Fifteen group. Matt drinks, writes, and lives wine, and his book is the final testament to his success.

As Bunny Finkelstein the co-owner of Judd’s Hill Winery says, "Making wine is like having children; you love them all, but boy, are they different."

Matt will be the one to take you by the hand and teach you just how different they are. From telling you where to shop for wine and the differences in each venue (independent liquor store, chain store, vineyard, internet) he teaches you the fine nuances of each. There is nothing he doesn’t cover in the book, storing wine, decanting wine, wine pairing, wines and different diseases (asthmatics, diabetics, celiacs,) he has it covered. From the proper glasses, to the different storage methods after opening, to wine auctions, labels, costs, what constitutes a good year, tasting, wine faults, from wines by ingredients, by country, by season, I don’t think he missed a thing.

I remember when Lauren was taking the course and she was telling me about the bouquet of the wine, letting it breath, how the flavors change, etc. I really didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. One of my favorite sections of the book is the four-page spread on how to describe what you see and taste. It features a full visual of many of the flavors that enhance the different wines, from fruits, to spices, to flowers, he gives you the visual, and asks that in return the next time you taste a wine, you commit them to memory, and use them to describe the wine you are savoring!

This book makes a great addition to your collection if you are new to the wine world, a great gift if you are an old hand, as I’m sure you will learn something from it. It would make a great bridal shower gift, bachelor party gift, birthday gift, a great addition to a cookbook collection, wonderful mother’s day or father’s day gift, actually it is the perfect gift for anyone who has even the slightest interest in wine. If I could find it fascinating and incredibly interesting and I only have a vague interest in wine, imagine how someone who really has an interest would find it.

I actually think that liquor stores would do very well to sell this in their stores; it would certainly encourage customers to come back and try new and wonderful wines. I think I am actually going to go out and buy some copies for my four children. If they are going to become winos, they may as well do it in style!

Recommendation: The book will be available in the US on April 15. BUY THIS BOOK, you won’t be sorry. In fact, to make it easy, just look to your right, we have included the link to the book on the sidebar, just click and order, doesn’t get any simpler than that! If you don’t buy the book, you will miss out on The Best Food and Wine Partners! BUY THIS BOOK...

Contents: Don’t be fooled by the simple topic names, each chapter is crammed with information!


Since this is a food related site, and there are no actual recipes in the book I will impart a little of Matt’s advice on the pairing of wine with fish and shellfish.

Here are his suggestions:

Cold Manzanilla Sherry with whitebait or squid, Good oloroso sherry with cooked shrimp dishes; Light, clean, fruity whites – minus the oak-with white fish; Full, rich whites-including oak- with mackerel, scallops, freshwater crayfish, crabs, or lobsters; Pink wines with whole roasted fish, bouillabaisse, or sardines; Pinot Noir with salmon, trout, tuna, or sushi

The book is filled with beautiful photos done by Chris Terry, so beautiful that you can almost taste the food, and smell the wine. You can easily see that this book is a labor of love!

Book Title: Heard it Through the Grapevine
Author: Matt Skinner
Category: Specialty Books-Wine
ISBN: 978-1-84533-483-3
Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (an imprint of Octopus Books USA)
Publishers Address: 237 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10017
Website: http://www.hachettelivre.co.uk
Published: 2008
Edition: First
Description: Hard Cover
Illustrations: No
Photographs: Beautiful Color Photography
Price: $24.99
Reviewed by: Elise Feiner – April 13, 2009

Remember this “In vino veritas (In wine is truth.) - Plato

Heard it Through the Grapevine can be ordered by either clicking on the sidebar, or scrolling down to the bottom of the blog to our Foodfanataholics Cookbook Nook, go to the sidebar on the right and click on Cookbook of the Month.

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1 comment:

  1. Wine have been a part of my teenage and adult life. Partying, occasions or just hanging out with friends, wine will never run out. Though now that I've been busy with work and my boyfriend doesn't allow me to drink one.

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