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Red and White
by Max Allen
Photographs by Adrian Lander

Reviewed by Elliot Essman

Red and White: Wine Made Simple, by Max Allen, with photography by Adrian Lander (published by the Wine Appreciation Guild), begins with an encouraging statement that could also be considered a warning: “This is a new look at a very old subject, a modern taste of an ancient liquid. It gives you, the reader, a feeling that you can smell, savour and enjoy the subject while learning a little more about it.” Given the plethora of wine books (or, for that matter, wine labels) with which we are constantly bombarded, “learning a little bit more” may be a tall order, but Red and White gives a refreshing, and lingering, account of itself. Written by an Australian and from an Australian perspective, the book nevertheless gives wine appreciation basics we all can use, without, as its started purpose, duplicating the work of extant wine encyclopedias, atlases and buying guides.

The book would be a joy to read without the lush photographs, but its overall large-format breadth is a pleasure on paper. It is clearly divided into three major segments: “Vineyard, The Flavours of Wine,” subdivides into one syllable subsections: White, Red, Air, Water, Earth, Sun, Harvest, nicely covering the basics regarding grapes, soil issues, climate. “Winery, The Styles of Wine,” takes the reader through the full winemaking process, giving excellent enrichment sections like “Gas” (how sparkling wines are made) and “Spirit” (all about fortified wines like port and sherry), in addition to basics on the book’s namesake reds and whites. “Bottle, The Enjoyment of Wine,” brings in details and insights about tasting, buying, storing, serving and otherwise optimizing the experience of having to do with wine.

The “Nose” subsection teaches you to “Squint,” “Swirl and Sniff,” “Swig and Suck,” “Spit or Swallow.” I admit to being one who appreciates the Anglo-Saxon heritage of short and alliterated words, but actualizing these verbs is the real point; reading about wine ought to lead to some tasting, as it does here. A nice subsection under the heading “Wine Waffle (and what it all means)” gives me a greater handle on vocabulary treasures from “acidic,” “aggressive,” and “austere” to such gems as “terroir,” “ullage” and “vinous.” While I have not yet adopted every one of these terms into my wine lexicon, Red and White is likely, until I wear the book out, to increase the scope of my enjoyment of the stuff. This is a wine book designed to withstand the true test: it will be used, and nicely stained, by red, white, and the myriad shades in between. Top -- Culinary Reviews Home

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