Adventures in Wine, True Stories of Vineyards and Vintages Around the Worldedited by Thom Elkjer April 2002
Travelers Tales Books San Francisco, California
304 pages, $17.95
Imagine that you had never drunk a glass of wine with friends or traveled to a place far away. If you are reading this review, that may be a bit much to ask, but you can do it. You would easily spend the few hours that it will take to read every essay and, indeed, every word in this book. Your interest in wine and travel would have been aroused by these stories. They are not just about wine and travel. They speak to the need to experience new tastes, events and places. On the other hand, if you are a savvy traveler, you will find stories about things you have not experienced. Some of them may even inspire you to do something you had not done before or to re-live an old adventure. Whether you are inexperienced or a veteran, this book has stories for you.
The essays portray the diversity of experiences of wine lovers, famous and not. Renowned authors write about their enjoyment of wine. New writers do the same. Prominent wine producers and merchants tell their stories. A psychiatrist from the San Francisco Bay area who makes wine at home writes his story. That man tells us he carried the Chardonnay he made with him to Italy. He traded it for the wine made by the owner of the agriturismo where he stayed outside of Radda. Jan Morris, the well-known historian, gives us some thoughts about loving wine. Kermit Lynch, the Californian importer and merchant of European wines, tells us how dealt with unacceptability of credit cards in a rural French restaurant with a world-class wine cellar. Tim Russo, who worked in developing democracy, describes a political meeting in the Republic of Georgia. "Every political meeting there may potentially end in a supra: a grand, traditional Georgian meal complete with vast quantities of local wine."
The authors led me back to my past and, I hope, my future, with wine. Perhaps you will recall a kind and knowledgeable professor who took the time to explain that good wine was better to drink and more enjoyable than the stuff you sneaked into the dorm and shared with your undergraduate classmates. I did. As you read through the book maybe the first time you had real wine with good food and friends old and new will come to mind. What were you celebrating? Will you remember being asked, "What is that dark brown wine with your dessert?" by a table of French tourists next to you in a restaurant in the Juderia of Cordoba? Likely not, but similar things may have occurred in your time with wine. If they have, you will enjoy reading about such episodes others have experienced.
Most of these essays make me think that an undergraduate education followed immediately by lawschool and a law career are all the signs of a misspent youth and a part of an adulthood. Maybe others will read these essays before it is too late for them.
Reviewer Mike Petersen is an attorney employed at the state capitol who travels whenever he can to try new foods and wines in California and Europe. He especially enjoys cooking and eating Italian, Spanish, French, German and other dishes that he has sampled with the locals here and abroad. Mike is a founder and chair of Mr. P’s Wine Club, a no-load wine club whose members love trying new wines and foods. He also searches for Chicago-style, kosher hot dogs wherever he may be.