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125 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Italian love story
Vino Italiano is a difficult book to describe. It's part wine guide, part travelogue, part cookbook, and part cultural history. It's a love song to Italy and Italian wine that has the flavor of a coffee table book, but without the color plates and oversize format. It's a reference work and a highly personal account of a subject the authors know well and enjoy sharing. In...
Published on September 5, 2002 by Bevetroppo

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Outdated, missing real historical data and boring
Published 3 months ago by Susan B. Napier


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125 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Italian love story, September 5, 2002
By 
Bevetroppo (Meyersville, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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Vino Italiano is a difficult book to describe. It's part wine guide, part travelogue, part cookbook, and part cultural history. It's a love song to Italy and Italian wine that has the flavor of a coffee table book, but without the color plates and oversize format. It's a reference work and a highly personal account of a subject the authors know well and enjoy sharing. In short, it's a classic.
The book lovingly covers all of the regions of Italy. Each chapter is a self-contained essay on an individual Italian region, with wine as the focal point. But don't think that the wine commentary is the only reason you will enjoy owning this book. It's full of absorbing discourses on Italian life, told through anecdotes that illustrate the character of a region's wines, food, people and history. For example, you'll go on a Tuscan boar hunt, watch a soccer match between Lazio and Roma, learn about the art of making Balsamic vinegar in Emilia-Romagna and discover where the Italians hid Mussolini under house arrest in the mountains of Abruzzo.
Each chapter is organized in the same fashion: an introductory essay that illuminates something telling about the character and history of the region; a simple map locating the DOC areas; descriptions of white, red, sparkling and sweet wines grown, highlighting significant producers; wine production statistics, including recent successful vintages; a few select restaurant recommendations; a guided tasting that compares and contrasts flights of wines within the same DOC's; and a recipe or food indigenous to the province with wine selections to match. Throughout are portraits of key people and properties that set the tone for the Italian wine scene today. A data bank at the end lists all major grape varieties grown in Italy and an index of 700 producers who represent a solid if subjective list of Italy's best.
One of the most interesting aspects of Italian wine today is the emergence of (and backlash against) the so called "international style." In most regions, this means a shift in emphasis from native grapes and vinification techniques towards extracted wines made from classic French varietals (e.g., cabernet, merlot, syrah) and the use of new oak. Vino Italiano tackles the subject head-on in an even-handed and relatively dispassionate manner, including several passages on the style of the prolific modernist consultant Riccardo Cotarella. Is he a force for good or evil? Vino Italiano gives you the background, you get to make the decision. There is also a wonderful little digression on the improvements wrought by adoption of modernist techniques on the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. As, usual, Vino Italiano makes the subject clear and entertaining.
Negatives? Well, the words are so vivid I would have paid twice as much for the same book with some beautiful color plates that capture the places, people, and food described. Some of the recipes were a little too complex for me, but maybe not for you.
If you love Italian wine, food, and/or Italy itself, this is the kind of book you can grab off a nightstand, open at random, and happily lose yourself in for hours. Put another way, if the authors ever sponsored a wine and food tour of Italy, I'd be first in line. Highly recommended.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo!, January 1, 2004
By 
Eric J. Lyman (Roma, Lazio Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Vino Italiano is not the best book if what you need is an introduction to Italian wine. But if you already know there is a big difference between a Vino Rosso di Montepulciano and a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, then you'll no doubt appreciate this informative and easy-to-read book as much as I do.
This book gives the lover of Italian wine, food, and culture a lot to be excited about. It is divided into chapters that cover an Italian region (or in one case, two minor regions) and each chapter contains more information than some lesser books contain in their entirety. Included are regional recipes, maps and other essential information (e.g. significant producers, grapes grown, etc.) related to its wines, and stunning black-and-white photos that make it tempting to regard this as a coffee-table book. But I think the best part of each chapter is a well-written and entertaining essay that includes anecdotes that frame the character of the people, history, and culture of the region being described.
Of course, the centerpiece of it all is wine. But authors David Lynch and Joseph Bastianich understand that even in Italy, that subject cannot stand alone, and so they bring in discussions of hunting, and football, and fashion, and Mussolini, and cars, and artisan vinegars, oils, and cheeses.
Reading over what I have written here, I feel that I have not done this book justice. There is such a range of well-researched information here presented in such an accessible way that a different reader might pick it up and enjoy the book just as much as I do but for an entirely different set of reasons.
Perhaps the best way to conclude, then, is with my own brief anecdote: Italy is a country very understandably proud of its culture of food and wine, and the domestic Italian best-seller lists always have a few new books on those subjects listed on them. And yet every time - without fail - that I show this book to my Italian friends, their comment is, "Why can't we have a book like this in Italian?"
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book if you like wine, April 8, 2002
As owners of a small American vineyard who love to travel through Italy picking up ideas, enjoying new tastes, and just plain enjoying the people and their wine, this is simply the best book we've found in years. Each region is treated with equal respect, each wine is described fairly and in detail, the producers are interviewed wherever possible, and everything is organized so that you can travel with confidence while there or through the shelves of your favorite local wine store. Authors Bastianich and Lynch season their book with excellent recipes thought through so most readers can find ingredients to make them work, and show how any of us can learn a wine by pairing it with the food of its region. You can be sure we'll take this along on our next drive through the wine growing world of Italy.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly conceived and written. A great resource & read!, March 2, 2004
I am a lover and a drinker of wine, and not a collector or wine professional. I purchased this book because I was interested in learning more about navigating the world of Italian wine-- i.e. To further my enjoyment of Italian wine and allow me to make intelligent decisions when choosing from a wine list in a restaurant, shopping in the local wine shop, or pairing Italian wines with food at home. This book was exactly what I needed.
"Vino Italiano" is an not only an exceptional introduction to the world of Italian wine, it goes further than many (and many excellent) wine books I have read or consulted. This book places the wine in context- beginning each regional chapter with a short vignette which helps us gain a feeling for who might drink these wines, in what kind of setting, and with what kind of food. It goes well beyond the usual formula of explaining laws, grapes, producers, geography, history, and wine making methods, although it describes all of these thoroughly as well (though it is not deeply technical). It is not only a pleasure to read, it seems to me to be the beginning of a long and rewarding path into learning about the world not only of Italian wine, but Italian wine as a part of Italian culture- and especially representing regional culture when paired with regional foods (a couple well-chosen recipes at the end of each chapter). I was originally skeptical about the presentation, including each chapter's introductory vignette, and the recipes at the end of each chapter, but after reading, I have to admit that the construction of the chapters seems to provide a natuaral path to approach learning about each region, and in fact has helped me to remember more of the nuts-and-bolts information about each regional wine. (I would certainly welcome more wine books about other countries written in the same format.) In the end, there is a wealth of information that adds to the overall purpose I had in buying the book- to increase my understanding, knowledge, and ability to gain enjoyment from Italian wine. "Vino Italiano" is also very easy to access as a basic reference on the wines of Italy. It is not, however, a catalog, although there is plenty of material here for a beginner or probably even an intermediate to base his/her shopping on. "Vino Italiano" will provide you with a very pleasurable means to building a foundation upon which to understand, seek out, taste, and ultimately to enjoy the many varied and delicious wines of Italy. Highly recommended.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Primer, June 29, 2002
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Beautifully presented and organized, this book is an essential primer on the wines and regions of Italy. It includes a summary of the grapes from each region along with recommended vintages and even recipes from Mario Batali to complement the wine selections.
I found the sections on some of the lesser known regions of Italy fascinating and the Tuscany and Emilia-Romanga sections contain much information that was enlightening as well.
Much more than a coffee table book, this will serve as a fine guide to purchasing Italian wine for a lifetime.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Molto utile -- very helpful guide, May 5, 2002
By 
"cobblehill" (Westchester County, NY) - See all my reviews
VINO ITALIANO is a wonderful companion to keep at your side as you explore the mysteries of Italian wines. Need help sorting out DOC from DOCG from VdT from IGT? Telling Solaia from Sassicaia from Summus? This is the book for you. It's well-organized and packed with information; deep without being dense. The essays that introduce the wine culture of each region are remarkably witty and well-written. The maps and charts and photos round out a real winner of a book. To the authors I say -- Grazie tante!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different sort of wine book, December 9, 2006
This is a different sort of wine book, one whose

peculiarities are perfectly suited to its subject.

Italy produces more wine than any other nation and

consumes more wine per capita. It is (Greece aside)

the birthplace of civilized winemaking and everyday

wine drinking too. Italians drink more wine too,

consuming annually something like 16 gallons per capita.

If you remember that per capita means 'for every man, woman

and child" and that 16 gallons annually is almost 2

bottles a week, the figure is quite astounding.

So it's peculiarly paradoxical that for centuries, Italy

produced and was known for some genuinely terrible wine.

The bad wine came in part form bad growing techniques. If

grape growing was bad, wine making was worse and there was

little reason to improve it. Bad transportation and a

generally impoverished peasantry ruled out competition

among producers. There was no domestic urban middle class

of the sort that bought and demanded French wines. Worse

yet there were no wine-poor neighbors whose tastes and demand

could shape a winemaking industry.

About thirty years ago, everything changed. Returning the

favor of 1492, Americans discovered Italy. The discovery was

multi-faceted and so is this book.

Along with Italian wine, we went crazy for the country,

the food, the people, the design and the culture. Vino

Italiano is about all of these things.

There are nineteen chapters each devoted to a region and

you can read them like short stories. There's a brief

cultural historical introduction followed by a discussion

of red, white, sweet and sparkling wines, then a list of

regionally important grape varieties. There are some

entertaining notes on wine tourism, some suggested tastings

and finally, some simple recipes from the region.

For the encyclopediacly inclined, useful appendices

include a listing of grapes by variety, a directory

of DOC and IGT zones and a short list of producers.

A book that will add to your enjoyment of its subject.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and

the forthcoming novel bang BANG from Kunati Books.ISBN 9781601640005
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Danger! This book will cause you to travel to Italy!, August 27, 2005
By 
The writers collaborate to paint an exquisite scene of each region in Italy. The book begins in the north eastern region of the Friuli and takes you west and down the peninsula to Sicily and to the island of Sardegna. Each region begins with a real life story where the writer describes his own experiences in a small farm house, a cellar visit, or restaurant where he visits people he's built an acquaintance with in his life. This exposes the reader to regional customs, foods, wines, and culture so fully that true lovers of wine and travel will begin to shed tears of joy. No other book on wine has ever had such a profound effect on me personally. Each region is described so wonderfully and so colorfully that you indeed wish you could be there to experience it.

From this opening dialoge the writer continues to walk you through the each region describing top and lesser known white, red, and dessert wines including cellars to watch for. But rather than simply focusing on cellars alone the writer focuses on the grape varietals and the unique wines of each region allowing the reader to go forward and make informed decisions about which wines might be worth a try. The writer does a very good job at describing the uniqueness of each varietal and how they might compare to more common varietals found throughout the world. This juxtaposition provides those that have some background in wine a good understanding of what one might expect should one pick up one of these bottles at a local store.

The one area that was somewhat disappointing in the book were the maps. They really could use a bit of help here. Also, quite often text made references to a particular area within a region that was not pictured on the map making visualizing the area somewhat challenging. That said, the writer does such a wonderful job with his own description of the areas that you tend to overlook this downfall.

All in all a wonderful introduction to the wine regions of Italy, Italian Wines, and the hundreds of unique varietals found there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by wine lovers, December 3, 2003
By 
Vino Italiano is an excellent read for anyone wanting a good understanding of Italy's regions and the wines they produce. It's a great reference book that is neither pedantic or simplistic. The best section is the brief summary of all of Italy's major producers and their product lines.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the subject, November 4, 2006
Believe it or not, there is a dearth of information about Italian wine both in books and online. Vino Italiano is a well thought out and much needed book on the subject. I agree with other reviewers who have pointed out that it is somewhat difficult to describe. This is due to the fact that the book includes historial wine information and regional maps as well as Italian travel information and recipes. Although this may sound a bit ill-defined it actually works -- you get all the facts and a feel for Italian culture at its best. Consider it your appetizer, primo and secondi all in one!
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