'When Donna told me she had asked for a pre-release copy of Unquenchable for my Kindle that I could read and review I was not sure what I expected. She described it as a book about a wine experts review of great bargain wines. First, I am no wine expert. My earliest experience with wine included Asti Spumante and Baby Duck. During the past five years living in Panama, I have been experimenting with the wealth of wines available. In Canada the cost of wines kept me from being too free with my choices. Also, our neighbor in Panama is Argentinean from Mendoza.
I started Unquenchable and was hooked in the first paragraph by her writing style. I think in the back of my brain I was expecting some kind of stuffy wine expert dryly talking about the various grapes and growing conditions – so when I read “What is your favourite wine? My answer “the one someone else pays for” and “When I am not in a smart-ass mood my answer to the first question depends on what I am eating”.
I felt like I got to know her in the first chapter and it helped me appreciate her comments through our world wind tour of 7 areas of the world focusing on 7 very different kinds of wine and wine making techniques.
Instead of just organizing the review of various wines by type, Natalie’s book feels more like a grand tour of some amazing areas of the world where I had the opportunity to meet some incredibly passionate people. Some of these people run small family estates and others are characters who run very large companies that ship their wines worldwide.
These various people add a realism and a great flavor to the book. Some of the quotes from these people are worth reflecting – “these wines are slender like the body of a women. Wine is seduction – women are better at that – yes?” or Natalie’s description of Buenos Aires tango – “..watching tango made even the small muscles between my shoulder blades tighten with the dancer’s arching back; my inner thighs shivered with the memory when she straddled his leg with hers.” Can you picture a stuffy wine expert exposing this kind of realism? Not me.
What did I learn about wines during our 7 location private tour? I learned how little I knew about even the most basic differences of the various wines. Wine pairing is very popular today but Natalie takes this to another level. She introduced me to the fact that I could enjoy 7 very different wines during the 7 days of the week. Sunday was Australia – it begins with a bang (and for me a start) “Watch out for the snakes” - Natalie had no idea how this would grab me – I HATE snakes – so to imagine she would risk them to visit wineries – she had my attention. It didn’t hurt that she touched on a few of the wines of Australia that I really enjoy. Paired with hamburgers to Peppercorn steak – I was ready for the rest of the week.
Monday was Germany, Tuesday, Niagara through to Provence. I loved that she finished in Provence meeting Peter Mayle “A Year in Provence” a book I attribute to helping Donna & I decide to move from Canada to Panama.
Throughout her book at the end of each chapter she includes a wealth of information. Natalie calls them “Field Notes from a Wine Cheapskate”.
Included in these field notes are short thoughts on the region, the wine, the people she met, the food she ate and her choices of wineries and their wines.
I will re-read Unquenchable. I will recommend it to others like me who enjoy wine but know very little and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy a very drinkable bottle of wine.
I can see Natalie deciding some day to create a 7 year tour – one location per year – 7 days in the location guiding wine lovers to her favourite haunts all over the world – then why limit it to just 7 years – I am sure Natalie could find locations to enthrall for years.'
“I learned so much from Natalie MacLean's humorous, literate, lively adventures in search of great buys in wine. Fun to read, her book introduces you to many winemakers who could be in novels, to out of the way places you want to add to your travel list, and, most of all, to an appreciation of vino as integral to the joy of living. I'm restocking my racks with her smart suggestions.”
—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
“There are very few people in the wine world that I think "get it" and Natalie is one of those people that brings more fun to a buttoned-up and stodgy game.”
—Gary Vaynerchuck, author of The Thank-You Economy and host of WineLibraryTV
“With fully extracted prose that lingers on the palate, Natalie MacLean has wisely headed off the beaten path to get at the essence of wine. As she probes the elusive intersection of quality and value, we are lucky sidekicks on her well-observed journey through the landscapes, people, stories, and—let's just say it—buzzes that make wine so wonderful.”
—Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire's Vinegar
“Natalie pulls us along happily into her wide world of wine -- you are right there with her at table or in an underground cellar. The conversations are lively and the wine flows. And when a winemaker pours a glass for her, you might look around wondering, "Where's mine?" She made me itchy to get on a plane and hit the wine route myself.”
—Kermit Lynch, author of Adventures Along the Wine Route
From the author of the bestselling Red, White and Drunk All Over, comes a new book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines that will amuse and enthrall with its character sketches of obsessive personalities, travel to gorgeous vineyards, mouth-watering descriptions of food and wine, "hidden" wine education and neurotic humor.
Packed with colorful stories about the passionate personalities who inhabit the world of wine, award-winning wine writer Natalie MacLean whisks you to the mountainside vineyards of Germany, the baked red earth of Australia, and the shady verandahs of Niagara--as well as to scenic, offbeat locations in southern Italy, the Mediterranean, Argentina, Chile and South Africa--all in search of the best value bottles the world has to offer.
Of her journey, Natalie MacLean says, “I've spent the past several years traipsing around the world, visiting wineries, tasting their offerings, and searching for the world's best inexpensive wines. The narrative is as familiar as Arthur's quest for the grail and as naïve as the little bird's plaintive search for the affirmative in Are You My Mother?”
Standing firmly against wine snobbery and using her signature conversational style, MacLean insists that good wine doesn't have to be expensive. There's plenty to take away from her inspired recommendations from food pairings to lists of favorite value wines and wineries, plus plenty of pointers that will deepen your own drinking pleasure.
NATALIE MACLEAN, named the World's Best Drinks Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia, is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International. Her regular wine columns in print reach 5.1 million readers, her free wine e-newsletter is read by more than 123,000 wine lovers and her mobile applications for iPhone and BlackBerry have been downloaded by more than 110,000 smartphone users. An accredited sommelier, she is the author of Red, White and Drunk All Over, chosen as the Best Wine Literature Book in the English language at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Connect with Natalie at:
Web site: www.nataliemaclean.com
Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines by Natalie MacLean
'I'm having fun with this one, throwing in stories about sharks, goats, predatory hawks, polo horses, sheep and magpies in case the wine angle doesn't work out. Here's the inevitable YouTube book trailer (it's mercifully short)' Natalie