Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World ‘s Best Bargain Wines
You’ll remember how Dorothy sighed “lions, and tigers, and bears; oh, my” in the Wizard of Oz . Well, we might be hearing Natalie saying something like “hawks, and sheep, and goats, and turtles, and baboons; oh, boy” in her new book Unquenchable. And you thought this was a book about wine – and it is; but her adventures brings her in contact with all these critters plus a lovable Great Dane and almost too close a contact with a great white shark. All of this MacLean weaves into her tales of the wine country, the wines they produce and those who produce them. As she travels from Australia to Germany, Ontario, South Africa, Sicily, Argentina, Portugal and Provence, she tells the tales with great sensitivity, warm humor and growing respect.
The book is presented in a chapter on each wine region where she visits two or three of the leading wine producers, telling their stories while searching for the best wine bargains the world has to offer. Being of Scotch heritage, looking for bargains is natural; but she goes farther by presenting her experiences with wines of all price levels before selecting her favorite and affordable wine for dinner and the menu to complement the wine. So, she presents a selection of wines for everyday of the week, plus one for Sunday lunch.
Her selections start with a Sunday dinner and the Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon served with the chicken-smoked pork dish she enjoyed in Australia. On Monday, it’s the Dr. Loosen’s Dr. L. Riesling with a Pike Perch in Orange Cumin Broth. Then on Tuesday, it’s the Les Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir from Niagara-on the-Lake with marinated quail. Wednesday its Fairview Shiraz from South Africa with a fillet of beef and mushroom sauce; Thursday its Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Russo from Sicily with red mullet in pistachio crust. Then Friday its Santa Julia Malbec with Argentinean barbecue. Saturday its Niepoort 10 Years Old Tawny Port after a Creme Brulee dessert and for Sunday lunch it’s a Rose from Provence, Chateau de Roquefort Corail with chicken and creamy fennel. MacLean certainly has a flair for matching food and wines. It ‘s the stories of how she came to make her selections that make this book so interesting.
But a word about what constitutes a bargain. Some might look at the above list and think they’re not bargains at all; still in or above the $15 range. They’re looking for stuff in the under $10 category. MacLean dismisses this criticism feeling that most of the “so called” wines under $10 are really not wines at all, just cheap plonk; and to her a bargain is a wine that is modestly priced but has all the attributes of other wines of the region selling for considerably more. Hence the selections she had made. She also lists others in the same category so you are not restricted to the one she selects as her favorite.
If you read MacLean ‘s first book, Red, White and Drunk All Over, you know how she can tell a tale, amuse you from the beginning, and end up imparting a wealth of knowledge. She does it again in Unquenchable; it’s a book you’ll want to share with your family and friends. Just off the press, it will make a marvelous gift for those who enjoy wine and a good read.
You can read more reviews of my new wine book Unquenchable here.