Book Review: Italian Wine Unplugged, Grape by Grape
Italian Wine Unplugged brings something genuinely new and refreshing to wine books. 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 alternatives to turn to.
Don’t! Italian Wine Unplugged is a godsend for those that want to discover more about Italian grapes and wine.
About the authors
Stevie Kim is the Managing Director of VinItaly International. She runs one of the worlds most prestigious wine fairs and promotes Italian wine via training, tastings, conferences, and social media. 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. Italian Wine Unplugged is also the reference text for the VinItaly Ambassador wine course. However, it’s enjoyable with a glass of Italian wine too.
About Italian Wine Unplugged
This book is available at Amazon as a Kindle ebook and is in Beta 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 rarely tedious. Instead, it simplifies and uses colour coding to make the subject accessible without dumbing down, which is no mean feat.
I also really like the fact that this release is in Beta, meaning it’s still a work in progress. That’s a brilliant idea because revisions are quick. There’s an opportunity for users to feedback before it gets into a printed edition.
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 revision aids. However, the “mind maps” included are far from a fully realised idea in their current form. Perhaps they should be improved or dropped. However, the Vinous Giro d’Italia section has all the maps you need and documents the Italian wine appellations, region by region. I have made several suggestions and perhaps these and those made by others will be included in the final publication.
The road test
Finally, I road-tested Italian Wine Unplugged recently in Soave, Colli Berici and Gambellara, and it passed with flying colours! Available at Amazon, currently in Kindle version only, for £7.69.
P.S., A great book on Italian wine history is reviewed here.