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American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States Hardcover – December 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

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What Critics Say About Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson

"Because of her training, her experience and her gifts as a taster and writer, Ms Robinson is probably the best-qualified person who has ever written about wine." --Paul Levy, Wall Street Journal.

"The woman who makes the wine world gulp when she speaks....as unpretentious as Beaujolais Nouveau." --Jerry Shriver, USA Today.

"One of the things Jancis taught me about wine was, lighten up!" --Jay McInerney, New York Times.

"Jancis writes about wine with authority but without a trace of pretension - in fact, often humor – and with a grace that makes it look easy despite all the effort that obviously goes into her work." --Dave Mcintyre, Washington Post.

"England’s finest wine writer - gifted with her prose, thorough in her analytical skills, and always looking for a good story, her opinion should be considered seriously, and anyone interested in fine wine ought to subscribe to her valuable tasting research and commentaries. --Robert Park, Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide, 7th Edition.

"The Julia Child of wine: authoritative, accessible and occasionally fun... You'd like her as a teacher." --Peter M. Gianotti, Newsday.

"In the world of wine Jancis Robinson...is to words what Ferrari is to cars!" --Matt Skinner, Thirsty Work.


Some Tips on Matching Wine and Food, by Jancis Robinson

General Tips

With its relatively low alcoholic strength, appetizing acidity and lack of sickly artificial flavours, wine is the perfect accompaniment to food. Am I kidding myself that a well-chosen wine makes food taste better? Surely not...

The most important rule about food and wine matching is that there are no rules. You can drink any wine at all with any food - even red wine with fish! - and the world will continue to revolve. Anyone who thinks worse of you for serving the 'wrong' wine is stuffy, prejudiced and probably ill-informed. There are, however, some very simple guidelines for getting the most out of particular foods and bottles.

The single most important aspect of a wine for food matching is not color but body or weight (which corresponds closely with alcoholic strength).

The second most important aspects are tannins for reds and sweetness for whites.

Try to match a wine's body to the power of the strongest ingredient in the food. Serve delicate-flavored foods such as simple white fish or poached chicken with lighter bodied wines and stronger, more robust foods such as grilled tuna with spiced lentils or osso buco with full-bodied wines. Many white wines will do jobs which are conventionally regarded as red wine jobs, and vice versa.

A tannic wine such as one made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and most Portuguese reds, can taste softer when served with chewy foods, notably unsauced red meat. (Sauces are almost invariably more powerful than what they are saucing and are usually a better guide to the ideal wine accompaniment.)

All wines taste horribly acid if served with sweet food, unless they are sweeter than the food itself - which seriously limits the choice of wines to be served with most sweet courses to wines such as Vouvray moelleux, Alsace SGN, Sauternes, German Trockenbeerenauslese and Beerenauslese and some sweet sherries. It also makes wine purists wary of sweet relishes. Very acid foods such as citrus fruits and vinegar can do funny things to seriously fine, perfectly balanced wine, but can flatter a slightly acid wine (from a particularly cool climate or year) by making it taste less sour. Similarly, freshly ground black pepper might distort our impression of a complex, venerable wine but acts as a sensitizing agent on most palates and flatters young, light wines by making them taste fuller and richer.

Difficult Foods for Wine

There are very few foods that destroy wine, but very hot spices tend to stun the taste buds so that you could still smell a wine but would find it impossible to experience its dimensions because the palate's sensory equipment is ablaze. Globe artichokes and, to a lesser extent, asparagus tend to make wine taste oddly metallic, and dense chocolate is so sweet and so mouth-coating that it too can be difficult (but not impossible) to match with wine. A far greater enemy to wine than any food, however, is toothpaste. Also, don't forget how wine styles can be manipulated by care with serving temperatures.

The increasing importance of vegetables and salads has had its own sunny influence on food and wine matching. Their direct flavors can seem better suited for New World wines than the dusty complexity of many an Old World classic.

Cooking with Wine

There is a school of thought that any wine used in cooking should be top quality and/or of the same region as the dish. As a mean Northerner, I find this hard to accept, particularly as so little research has been done on exactly what happens to wine when you cook with it. I am sure that if the wine in the dish (as in steeped strawberries, for example) is never heated, then it is worth choosing one that tastes as delicious as you can afford. If you want to reduce a sauce using wine, however, I would have thought you wanted one with as much body as possible - and that the wine's components may go through so many transformations that the initial flavor could not possibly be preserved. More research, please! Meanwhile, in our household we will continue to see cooking as a particularly satisfying way of using up wine leftovers.

Jancis Robinson

Review

“Glorious. . . . American Wine captures all the romance and allure of viniculture from Florida to Hawaii.”
(Angela Matano Campus Circle 2013-04-02)

“An informed, intelligent and entertaining tour, “American Wine” is your reader-friendly companion from the Napa Valley to the North Fork. Clear maps, knockout photos, valuable information."
(Newsday 2014-01-01)

"Murphy and Robinson give us the new 'Ultimate Companion' to American Wine, taking into account the significant changes that have hit the U.S. wine industry over the past 20 years. An indispensable reference."
(Tom Wark's Fermentation 2013-12-18)

"American Wine is more than the ultimate reference guide on the subject, it leaves one feeling there is no better time to be an oenophile in America than today. Sip slowly and enjoy the ride."
(Hudson Valley Wine 2013-09-01)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (December 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520273214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520273214
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

One of a handful of wine communicators with an international reputation, Jancis Robinson writes daily for JancisRobinson.com (voted first-ever Wine Website of the Year in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards 2010), weekly for The Financial Times, and bi-monthly for a column that is syndicated around the world. She is also editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, co-author with Hugh Johnson of The World Atlas of Wine, co-author of Wine Grapes - A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours, each of these books recognized as a standard reference worldwide.

An award-winning TV presenter, she is invited all over the world to conduct wine events and act as a wine judge. In 1984 she was the first person outside the wine trade to pass the rigorous Master of Wine exams and in 2003 she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen, on whose cellar she now advises.

She loves and lives for wine in all its glorious diversity, generally favouring balance and subtlety over sheer mass.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By JS on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The companion volume to World Atlas of Wine, American Wine focuses solely on the wine-producing regions of the United States, from the often-visited and world-renowned Napa Valley to the smaller AVA's found across America, including those in Michigan and New York.

American Wine includes helpful maps, an overview of the grapes grown in the United States, how wineries were founded decades -- if not hundreds of years -- ago, and provides an abundance of information about wine-making techniques within each region. The majority of the book focuses on the California wine regions of Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and the Central Valley, with breakdowns by AVA; this is impressive since Napa Valley has sixteen sub-AVA's, such as Calistoga, Stag's Leap, and the (relatively) new Atlas Peak. Each AVA has a list of notable wineries, a helpful map, and details about the soil, temperature, and wine produced.

Despite the obvious attention to detail, this book can still be enjoyed and utilized by the casual wine-lover and tourist for the maps, background information, and suggestions about wineries. It truly shines, though, as an an exceptional book designed for serious wine-lovers and travelers who are looking for a comprehensive guide to American wineries and wine. This is a fantastic work that should be part of any wine library.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By LSK on January 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's natural to think of this book as a more regionally detailed version of "The World Atlas of Wine," but that is true only in some respects. The main advantage of the book is longer descriptions of formerly obscure or minor areas that get only a sentence or two in "TWAoW," for me most notably Colorado and the southwestern states as well as oddities like Hawaii.

However, for long-established areas such as the main California AVAs, you won't learn much new about the growing conditions, grapes, and recent trends. Instead, the higher coverage page count relative to TWAoW is taken up by historical facts, profiles of specific wineries (sometimes whose special significance isn't all that clear), pictures, and a larger font. I had hoped for more in-depth technical detail.

Otherwise, much will be familiar to readers of TWAoW. The maps are in the same format and the writing has some of the same admirable clarity and insouciance. One difference is that the introductory chapter is not a comprehensive description of winemaking and the wine experience but rather a shorter and more focused discussion of historical, legal, and winemaking issues specific to the U.S.

This is by no means a bad or uninteresting book and it is a useful complement to TWAoW because of its coverage of areas that do not have a worldwide reputation. But people who already know a fair amount about winemaking in the U.S. should be aware of its limitations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Kapnick on May 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that wine is In in the U.S. In 2011 the U.S. became the No. 1 wine-consuming country. And it's now the fourth-largest wine-producing country, having expanded exponentially from 440 wineries in 1970 to 7,345 in 2012.

So it's very good news indeed that at last there is a book that does the wines made in the U.S.--in all 50 states, that is--justice. American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States is the book about American wines that this wine lover has long been waiting for. As the publisher says, it's the "first comprehensive and authoritative reference to the wines, wineries and winemakers" of the entire U.S. While American Wine of course covers the Big Three of the West-California, Washington and Oregon-and the Big One of the East-New York-about a third of the 278-page book is devoted to the other 46 states, the states many of us are eager to know more about.

The authors have impeccable credentials. Jancis Robinson has been called the Julia Child of Wine. Robert M. Parker Jr.'s Wine Advocate said she is "perhaps the most gifted of all wine writers writing today." And she's been voted the Wine Writers' Wine Writer by her peers. She's a member of Britain's Royal Household Wine Committee, which chooses the wines that the Queen serves her guests. And she's a prolific author, responsible for several multi-award-winning wine reference books: she edited The Oxford Companion to Wine and co-authored The World Atlas of Wine and Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. U.S. wine expert Linda Murphy edited the San Francisco Chronicle's wine section-she won two awards from the James Beard Foundation there-and was the managing editor of the New York Times wine website.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well organized information to answer all you questions about State side wines. I never new there were so many and so many that were great! This book is a wonderful addition to my collection. Thank you.
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By Anna Sviridenko on November 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The delivery was quicker then from Great Britain.
Quolity of this book is high with good paper and many pictures.
First book about American wines in my home library.
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Love this coffee table style book by Jancis Robinson. While not 100% accurate, she portrayed the growth, depth, and quality of Arizona winemakers work. Still reading about other states too.
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