I first caught wind of Matt Kramer’s new book on Italian wine last September when I was traveling through Tuscany. I was tasting as many wines as I comfortably could—and time and again wondering how to figure out all of their idiosyncrasies and nuances of the wines and regions and reading back labels that didn't tell you much. My first reaction, was, well, good luck my friend. Wine is made just about everywhere possible in Italy, with about as many grapes as possible (though I haven’t had an Italian Riesling, come to think of it).
But if you feel handcuffed or overwhelmed or simply lost by the Italian wine scene, my Wine Spectator colleague's latest book, Making Sense of Italian Wine (Running Press, $25), might help. I like the book, including the scores of Mattisms and his quirky perspectives on, well, anything and everything.
Kramer doesn't try to tackle every Italian wine and region (which would be impossible), and with that in mind, he succeeds. You won’t find every winery, or an endless stream of tasting notes, either. What you will find is someone who has spent considerable time contemplating the subject and can act as your air traffic controller as you navigate the complicated world of Italian wines.
Having known Matt for 20-some years—tasting with him, traveling through Italy with him—I've learned that our tastes in wine often run in opposite directions, which is perfectly fine. To each his own, we'd always say. Still, I admire his knowledge, insights and values, not to mention his wit, humor and appreciation for wine and life.
“Like a Dobos torte, Italy is too rich to ever be simple,” he writes. “You’ve got to take it on, layer by delicious layer, accepting the fact that the only way out is, paradoxically, to dive in ... No nation so relentlessly, even profligately, issues so many wines. No winegrowers anywhere are so willing—insistent even—on throwing over the older order as Italians. Yet no sooner do they do so than a revisionist reaction sets in. It's as close to a permanent wine revolution as can be imagined.''
No book on wine has all the answers, but this one might—and I underscore the word might—soothe some of your apprehensions about the morass of Italian wines. I feel better already.
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — March 28, 2007 8:12pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 28, 2007 9:08pm ET
Mary Constant — Calistoga — March 28, 2007 10:58pm ET
Scott Cheney — Michigan — March 28, 2007 11:47pm ET
Jonathan Merer — denver, co — March 29, 2007 10:57am ET
John Guinasso — Portland Oregon — March 29, 2007 2:24pm ET
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