A geographical guide to wine by a traveling sommelier.
Technology writer Biddick (Federal Cloud Computing, 2012) writes that he always found wine tasting a little mysterious: “I thought that there must be a way to crunch the data and provide some generalities on great wine.” He goes on to describe the fascinating process of building an algorithm to analyze wines by focusing on three distinct features: the weather in the region where the wines were produced, the region’s quality standards, and consumer feedback. He says that his own blind tastings helped confirm his algorithm’s results, which sorted 43 regions into three categories: “Inconsistent,” “Average,” and “Great.” He explains his process and intentions as he moves from one location to the next, providing readers with a general introduction to each country and how its different wine regions vary. He then moves into specific areas, such as France’s Bordeaux, and discusses their history, subregions, and tastes. Helpful infographics reveal the grapes used in each region, the best vintages of the last 18 years, recent weather, local classifications, and the manufacturing processes behind the wines. By the end of the book, readers will have learned much about the great winemaking areas of France, Italy, the United States, and several other countries, including South Africa and Chile. Biddick’s by-the-numbers approach will demystify a dense subject for the uninitiated, and his book is packed with intriguing facts about the history of winemaking, such as the fact that vineyards in Europe were almost completely destroyed by phylloxera (plant lice) in the 1800s. However, the guide never feels overwhelming, and the infographics and brief descriptions nicely synthesize a lot of information for readers who want to be a little pickier the next time they buy a bottle.
A concise, engaging tour of the world’s winemaking regions for casual aficionados.