Book Review: Italian Wine Unplugged, Grape by Grape
Italian Wine Unplugged brings something genuinely new. In this review, I’ll explain why.
For me, Italian wines are a treasure trove of history, culture, food, language, colour, scents and flavours. There’s no denying that Italy makes great wines; in every region, in every possible style and at every price point.
Italian wine – elegant chaos
The trouble is, Italian wine may be exciting, but it’s utterly chaotic. Perhaps this reflects that essential part of the Italian psyche. Simultaneously sublime yet exasperating, fascinating but baffling, rewarding but complicated. Consider this; there are twenty Italian regions. Each is distinctive, from the Alps almost to Africa. There’s a myriad of soils, climates and styles.
Wine is everywhere in Italy, from humble to iconic. It ranges from simple table wine up through the geographical classifications of DOC, DOCG and IGT. Last time I counted there were 74 DOCG, 329 DOC and hundreds more IGTs. Some are famous; many are obscure, all are different. New ones appear; others fall dormant, many of them overlap! Then add words like Classico, Riserva, Superiore, Passito, Frizzante, and Spumante to Rosso, Bianco and Rosato!
Phew! Now it’s time for all the different grape varieties and blending! As well as the international grapes, Italy has hundreds of unique grape varieties to call its own. There are officially 590, with more to come. It’s an incredible heritage.
The challenge: making sense of Italian wine
Attempting to make sense of Italian wine is something I love. But not surprisingly, it deters many wine lovers. There are far more comprehensible wine countries to turn to.
Don’t! Try Italian Wine Unplugged instead.
About the editor
In this new ebook, contributors are gathered together under the editorship of Ian D’Agata. Ian is one of the foremost experts on Italian Grapes. Hence, the objective is to demystify Italian wine.
About Italian Wine Unplugged
This book as reviewed is in Beta electronic version. A paperback version follows in December 2017. However, the digital format is perfect for this book because of its portability. Download it onto your mobile device and never be without it. That means it has far more utility. Read at home, refer to it in a shop or restaurant or take it to a vineyard or winery. The ability to search and bookmark also means you can get the information you want in seconds. You can highlight text, make notes and print out. The style is visual and infographic, the text well written and engaging.
Despite running to 703 pages, It’s concise and easily understandable. Unlike some books on the subject, it isn’t complex and is rarely tedious. Instead, it simplifies and uses colour coding to make the subject accessible without dumbing down, which is no mean feat.
Warning: Beta version
It’s still a work in progress. In Beta, there are a number of mistakes, which hopefully will be corrected. As for the contents, the core of the book is easily digestible, covering some 430 Italian grapes. That in itself consists of three sections; “must-know”, “lesser-known” and “rare” grapes. Elsewhere, there are also flashcards, perhaps useful as student revision aids. The Vinous Giro d’Italia section has all the maps you need and documents the Italian wine appellations, region by region.
However, the “mind maps” section, while a potentially good idea, is a far from fully realised in design. These need to be redesigned or dropped.
This book is recommended, with the caveat that it’s best to wait to buy the final version when it appears rather than the current Beta version.
Check this book out here.
P.S., A great book on Italian wine history is reviewed here.
And a review of Ian d’Agata’s book on Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs is here.