Over the past three decades, a wine revolution has been taking place across the United States. There are now more than 7,000 American wine producers--up from 440 in 1970--and the best bottles are every bit as good as the finest wines of Europe. American Wine is the first comprehensive and authoritative reference on the wines, wineries, and winemakers of America. Written by world-renowned wine author Jancis Robinson and U.S. wine expert Linda Murphy, this book is the natural companion to the international bestseller, The World Atlas of Wine. More than 200 breathtaking photographs, profiles of key personalities, and informational graphics bring to life the vitality of American wine culture and 54 detailed full-color maps locate key regions, wineries, and vineyards. Organized by geographical region, American Wine concentrates on areas such as California, Oregon, and Washington that produce the best-known wines, and ventures across the country to introduce gems such as racy Rieslings from Michigan and New York, Bordeaux-style wines from Virginia, bright-fruited Tempranillo from Texas and southern Oregon, and characterful Nortons from the Midwest.

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 an ideal 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 created 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

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