Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Three Wine, Cheese And Food Books To Savor

Need a good read to tide you over to the spring thaw? We found three three books that should be on your bookshelf now.

The Winemaker Cooks: Menus, Parties and Pairings by Christine Hanna, Photos by Sheri Giblin

I couldn’t use a photo of my copy of this cookbook by Christine Hanna of Hanna Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma. That copy is stained by aioli sauce, noodles and unidentified meal ingredients. We received this book during a recent visit to Hanna’s Alexander Valley tasting room. We had the opportunity to meet Chris Hanna and have a sensational meal overlooking the vineyards.

When we got home, my wife (aka Green Dragon) used the recipes in the book for a wine pairing bash we hosted. The recipes were as promised, “wine country style with its hallmark of casual elegance.”

The book is organized by seasons. Each season has dinner menus followed by recipes, plus there are menus for other occasions, such as springtime brunch, summer dinner under the stars, harvest picnic in the vineyard and holiday open house. The picnic includes recipes for French Lentil, Prosciutto and Pepper Salad as well as Pan-Seared Five-Spice Duck Breast with Balsamic Jus. There are many recipes to try and love – sprinkled with bites of knowledge from the winemaker.

The book is published by Chronicle Books and can be found on Amazon.

The Winemakers of Paso Robles by Julia Perez, Words by Paul Hodgins

This splendid book is one to be savored a chapter or two at a time, like sipping a glass of fine Paso Robles red. Paso Robles is a region that has a long history in wine, reaching back to the 1840s, but in the last two decades it has emerged as the Mecca of ultra-premium California wine. When the AVA was founded in 1983, there were 17 wineries. Today there are more than 200 and over 32,000 acres of vineyards.

The catalyst has been a group of unique and unlikely winemakers. Their stories are told in magnificent photos by Perez and engaging narrative by Hodgins. The book is large (15.7 x 13.5 x 2.3 inches), a perfect size to showcase the insightful portraits and striking shots of the vineyards, wineries and wine.

Winemakers featured include the known, like Justin Baldwin of ISOCELES fame, and little known, like former NFL player Terry Hoage and wife Jennifer of micro-producer TH Estates. The story of Tobin James, the maverick winemaker of the region, is related, detailing how he got his start by making wine from Zinfandel grapes the truck driver was trying to dump. James ended up marrying the truck driver’s daughter.

Fifty-six winemakers are featured. We’d suggest a glass of a Paso Robles wine per chapter. This magnificent book is available at The Winemakers Series or Amazon for $85.

Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying by Janet Fletcher, Photos by Victoria Pearson

Janet Fletcher is a food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and winner of two James Beard Awards for her writing. She also makes a mean homemade Ricotta. During a recent visit to Beringer Winery in Napa during the Wine Bloggers Conference we saw her demonstrate cheesemaking.

Her love of cheese and wine shine through this 143-page book. The heart of the book is profiles of 70 cheeses with origins and descriptions as well as suggested wine pairings. The book organizes the cheeses by cheese platter themes, such as “Salute to Spain” and “Aging Gracefully.” There’s also great information on strategies for harmonious wine and cheese pairings, handling and serving cheese, and a convenient table showing cheese options for various wines.

This is a volume that should be on the bookshelf of any wine lover, and off the shelf at your next party. Published by Chronicle Books at $24.95.

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