Recipe adventures of a few fun & food loving foxes

Though CK and I throw back our share of the red wines in this world (and have a damned good time doing it too! Not to mention the actual “wine-throwing” incident…), we’ve both always not-so-secretly wished that we knew more about the wines we were buying and drinking.

We both love to learn, and wanted to understand what makes a wine tick, and how to get the most out of any delicious experience (and maybe more importantly, how to turn wines that make us screw up our faces into wines we love by pairing them more appropriately), but we also both really appreciate the bigger picture that contextualizes our purchases, particularly those that go in our mouths. We needed help, particularly as the wonderfully wine-soaked holiday season approached.

Enter Natalie MacLean’s latest read, Unquenchable: this journey through 8 wine regions, with blessedly specific emphasis on local treasures, serves up a delightful blend of personal travel narrative, wine tasting, pairing, and (best of all) drinking tips for the aspiring oenophile. The book is made mighty by a really satisfying socio-cultural and historical exploration of the worlds and conditions (not to mention a good dose of accessible and fascinating scientific explanation) that bring some of MacLean’s favorite wines to life.

Readers who care more about where their wine is really from, and who put their heart, souls, (and sometimes fingers or feet) into it, more than what’s on the label description, will be truly grateful for this human side of wine. Moreover, this isn’t one of those books that will make you feel shabby about your 10$ safety-net Shiraz; instead, Unquenchable is all about introducing the reader to remarkably budget-friendly vintages from around the world.

MacLean pulls even the most impressive wines down off their lofty pedestals, turning them into stories and experiences best shared with friends and family, in sloshing raised glasses, to hearty toasts, and belly cheer. Her travels and discoveries are punctuated by memorable information, and followed up by helpful short lists of the chapters’ best value products and producers, sure-fire food pairings, and other handy tools to take to the liquor store.

Other novice wine readers like ourselves might feel a tad disoriented by what is probably very basic wine language, and might regret the lack of a glossary, however one of the perks of Unquenchable is that it prefers storytelling over taxonomy, and so even the newcomer to the ins and outs of wine will feel at home. That being said, having a dictionary (okay, the internet) on hand, will give readers quick insight into what things like tannins are. Though, even without definitions, the stories soon compensate for any vocabulary that isn’t immediately obvious.

Unquenchable will reignite the desire for new experiences in anyone who has settled into a stable wine routine, and will give you lots of good reasons to try things you never thought you would. MacLean makes pairing easy and exciting (thanks to a beautifully written chapter about Argentina, CK and I are currently recovering from an Argentinean-Malbec-and-cheddar-cheese-bliss-coma that everyone should try at least once), and leaves the reader room to make the experience of wine choosing and drinking as thoughtful (or as purely sensual) as they want it to be.

Unquenchable makes a great holiday gift for any wine lover this year, and is an excellent addition for anyone who loves to travel. Be prepared: it’s not only your yen for wine culture and experience that will become unquenchable, but also your desire to see the places MacLean gifts to her readers in such living detail. Natalie MacLean’s thirst for life and living is part of the true pleasure of this read, and it’s a pleasure we hope she’ll keep on sharing.

Unquenchable is ripe for the picking at your local book retailer or online at www.nataliemaclean.com, where you can find lots of other great resources.

You can read more reviews of my new wine book Unquenchable here.