Seeking a good wine reference
I'm sort of ashamed to say I don't know much at all about wine and I'm sure I am often drinking the "wrong" wine with whatever food I'm eating (well, it tastes like it anyway because sometimes the same bottle of wine tastes great with my meal and then other times it's awful). I'd love to buy a book that will explain wine and grapes, and also some basic concepts for pairing wine with food, so that I can expand my horizons beyond pinot noir and zinfandel. I often see recipes that recommend specific bottles of wine, which for some reason I never can find, and then I don't know enough about wine to figure out a decent substitution. Do any of you have recommendations for a good wine reference? Thanks for any help in advance!
I am having a wonderful time reading Wines of the World, in the DK Eyewitness Companions series. It is nice and glossy with short descriptions of all the major wine producing regions of the world. It covers what grapes are used, and gives examples of the best or most well-known producers. It doesn't have a section on wine-food pairing, but the wines are usually discussed in the context of food, for instance you learn why Muscadet (from the Loire, France) goes so well with oysters and mussels. (I just tried it and wow it is true!) Highly recommend the book.
Jancis Robinsons Oxford Companion is generally considered gospel by people in the biz.(Including me)
There are so many good wine texts around and certainly as Winemark suggested, Jancis Robinson's The Oxford Companion to Wine is a fabulous resource. Prior to buying it I also utilized Hugh Johnson's Modern Encyclopedia of Wine.
However, for the specific area you have indicated an interest in, pairing food and wine I have enjoyed a book by Andrea Immer.
Great Tastes Made Simple..Extraordinary Food and Wine Pairing for Every Palate. Not a huge book like Robinson's text, just under 300 pages but well written and an easy read. Not too "over the top" and "complicated" nor "dumbed down". A little something here for everyone no matter one's appreciation and interest in wine or food.
It may be what you want...mind you there is nothig wrong with pinot noir and zinfandel [smile]...
Lots of great resources online as well. Strat's Place is one. And I like Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible. Gives a great overview of regions/grapes/etc.
I've found Mark Oldman's "Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine" very educational, practical and interesting. Like you, I had limited wine knowledge and was looking to learn more, and understand food pairings. I found his guide helps de-mystify wine. Good luck!