i plowed through jay mcinerney’s bacchus & me. this novelist-by-trade was tapped to write about wine for house & garden and is one of the first really accessible scribes on the subject. if you ever wanted to learn anything at all about wine, i think this little collection of his articles is a good jumping-off point. a self-professed amateur, he tends to use more literary analogies and pop-culture references than one would expect. admittedly, his repeated references to grunge-rockers nirvana, as well as his affected use of “like” in the 21st-century-garbage-word sense can get a little old, but his enthusiasm and youth bring a freshness and vitality to a potentially musty, high-falutin’ subject. and he is eminently quotable.

from “on doing it right,” a loose guide to wine selection: “White wine with fish, red with flesh is a pretty reliable rule. But any idiot can follow rules — it’s far cooler to break them. Pinot Noir can be great with salmon, particularly grilled salmon. (The oily flesh highlights the bright Pinot fruit.) And sweetish German Riesling is always good with pork and/or veal. If someone else is buying Chateau Petrus or Chateau d’Yquem, by all means drink as much of it as you can, no matter what the hell you’re eating. Give the food to the dog.”

“In Burgundy the allegedly key element of wine personality is the terroir, which translates into American as ‘location, location, location,’ or, alternately, ‘dirt.'”

from “gruner veltliner loves vegetables”: “I think one of the reasons I have never been seriously tempted by the vegetarian option is that, in my experience, most wines seem to become surly and depressed when they are forced to associate exclusively with legumes, grains, and chlorophyll-based life-forms. Like girls and boys locked away in same-sex prep schools, most wines yearn for a bit of flesh.”

“To me, a good Sauvignon Blanc should conjure up a picnic in a meadow, with scruffy wildflowers sprinkled amid the grasses and the faintest funky scent of a distant farm on the breeze. Kissing would definitely be part of these bucolic festivities, a little light petting perhaps, but nothing heavier than that. Hey — it’s not that kind of wine, if you know what I mean.”

“[Let’s] be clear about this, champagne comes from France. If you’re the kind of guy who buys his fiancee a cubic zirconia on the principle that it looks just like the real thing, then by all means celebrate your nuptials with Spanish bubbly.”


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