I’m kicking off 2012 with a pair of resolutions. And these I intend to keep, unlike those in previous years to lose weight, buy a winning lottery ticket and get taller.

Strangely enough my resolutions center on wine and related matters. Surprised?

No. 1. I resolve to read more wine books like “Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines” by Natalie MacLean. This is a well-written, wry and occasionally LOL piece of writing. It follows precisely my philosophy about wine, summed up in the title of my wine courses, Wine Without Pretense.

MacLean is a woman who knows her wine. In addition to being a well-respected writer, she is a sommelier, a vocation that demands not only deep knowledge but the skill to fire it up under pressure.

She was named World’s Best Drink Writer by the World Food Media Awards, and has copped four – count ‘em, four – James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. But unlike some beribboned wine experts, MacLean plays it light.

Here’s an example. In her “Opening Thoughts,” she writes: “The question I’m asked most often — ‘What’s your favorite wine?’ My answer: ‘The one someone else pays for.’

“The second question I’m asked is, ‘Can you recommend a great wine that costs less than $5?’ Answer: ‘Not unless all you want is a wet tongue.”

She recalls with wit, and a touch of true confessions, her childhood with an alcoholic father and little money. She developed an appreciation for value during those times and put that into play after she took up the campaign for food and wine. And she plays traffic cop on the road to bargainville quite well.

“Somewhere between Super Tuscans and vinous Tang crystals, there are delicious wines that we can still afford,” MacLean counsels. And in a 344-page hardcover effort, she writes about them.

It’s a travel book as well as a wine and food treatise. It takes you on a global trek ferreting out good wines at sensible prices, and the driven people who make them.

Some books touting wines of a time are outdated in two years. I enjoy that MacLean converses about not only specific wines and wineries but about regions with a history of making fine wines. It’s a great read. Prepare to learn, chuckle and maybe even guffaw.

 

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