The other night I crawled into bed with "The New Wine Lover's Companion" by Ron Herbst and Sharon Tyler Herbst. Sexy, right? Some nights are like that - more learning and less drinking.
The first thing this wine lover did was look for a New Jersey entry to make sure my state is represented in a book that's an "essential reference and a fun guide to great wines." If there was no mention of NJ, I would have wondered what other essential information was left out.
The Garden State was represented, as was the Outer Coastal Plain, one of three New Jersey AVA's and also one of the largest in the country covering over 2.25 million acres in South Jersey.
The book passed my initial test, so I continued to flip through this recently revised edition of the encyclopedia-like tome that's been around since 1995. It didn't take long to realize this book is often going to come in handy. It's thorough and despite being 768 pages, fairly portable.
The A-Z entries cover grape varieties, wine regions, winemaking terms and more. Many of them come complete with pronunciation - something important in the wine world since so many terms and names are foreign. The organization of the entries is straightforward and the writing is easy to understand - you don't have to have a wine certificaiton to comprehend what a claret or a clarete is, or to grasp the difference between the two. I appreciate this because because I don't want anyone to think wine is too complicated to understand and also because I'm still learning myself; I always will be.
It's worth flipping to the back of book to the appendix where there's additional info. Particularly helpful is the glossary of wine tasting terms where someone just learning can discover that words like "cat pee" and "flinty" and "naked" are all used for wine - and they don't necessarily means something undesirable.
The glossary also includes practical information on tasting wine, various types of wine openers, serving temperatures and glassware.
"The New Wine Lover's Companion" quickly made its way from my bedside table down to my office where it will remain as a convenient reference book - suitable for a wine loving journalist like me or a wine lover who simply wants to understand a little more about what they're drinking.
Disclaimer: The book was sent to me as a review copy.