Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Review: "California Wine for Dummies"

We recently received a copy of California Wine For Dummies and after reading it, found that it is a great resource for both novices and self proclaimed experts. Part I introduces California wines to the reader by briefly describing the history of wine making in the state, the wine regions, the grape varieties used, and how to decipher the label. These topics are worthwhile for the reader particularly during the discussion regarding the differences between "varieties" and "varietals" as well as "estate bottled"and "estate grown".

However, parts II through IV were the useful for us. Instead of focusing on the wine region, the authors focus on each grape variety and then discuss in which regions they are grown and how they differ depending upon that region. Particularly why wines made from the same grape may differ depending on the temperature variation between regions. They also list their favorite wines made from each variety as well as why wineries may blend certain grapes. Great information.

In between they offer interesting information such as Wente Vineyards Estate Winery being the first vineyard to plant Chardonnay in California and why Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are blended. And not only do they discuss the major grapes (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel), but they discuss other grapes such as Petite Sirah, all the Rhone varieties, the other Bordeaux grapes, Tempranillo, Tannat, and even Napa Gamay (Valdiguie). Sparkling and dessert wines are also included. It was nice to see that
Ridge Vineyards was noted a few times particularly how they blend their Zinfandel as well as our favorite Petite Sirah from Foppiano Vineyards.

This book would also serve as a nice companion on a wine touring trip to California. The authors discuss some of the towns in the major regions, suggest places to stay and wineries to visit. The final chapters actually discuss what to expect when visiting a California tasting room and special attractions and excursions.

Like we said previously, we highly recommend this book from novices to self proclaimed experts. Its also an easy read. One of us finished the book during a 2 1/2 hour plane ride and the other during a short afternoon on the beach. We will also be seeking out the earlier release: Wine For DummiesWine For Dummies

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