Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine

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Overview

In A Hedonist in the Cellar, Jay McInerney gathers more than five years' worth of essays and continues his exploration of what's new, what's enduring, and what's surprising-giving his palate a complete workout and the reader an indispensable, idiosyncratic guide to a world of almost infinite variety. Filled with delights oenophiles everywhere will savor, this is a collection driven not only by wine itself but also by the people who make it.
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A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine

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Overview

In A Hedonist in the Cellar, Jay McInerney gathers more than five years' worth of essays and continues his exploration of what's new, what's enduring, and what's surprising-giving his palate a complete workout and the reader an indispensable, idiosyncratic guide to a world of almost infinite variety. Filled with delights oenophiles everywhere will savor, this is a collection driven not only by wine itself but also by the people who make it.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Of Jay McInerney's last wine book, Bacchus & Me, The New York Times wrote, "[His] wine judgments are sound, his anecdotes witty, and his literary references impeccable. Not many wine books are good reads; this one is." This collection of McInerny's writings will not dampen the enthusiasm of critics or weaken Salon's claim that he is "the best wine writer in America."
Michael Steinberger
… what’s impressive is how fresh and jargon-free McInerney’s wine writing remains a decade into his House & Garden gig. From start to finish, first sip to last, A Hedonist in the Cellar is crisp, stylish and very funny.
— The New York Times
Bruce Schoenfeld
In the prologue to A Hedonist in the Cellar, his second collection of columns, [McInerney] offers what may be the clearest, most direct explanation I've read for why wine is worthy of our interest. It's "an inexhaustible subject," he writes, "which leads us, if we choose to follow, into the realms of geology, botany, meteorology, history, aesthetics, and literature. Ideally, the appreciation of wine is balanced between consumption and pleasure on the one hand and contemplation and analysis on the other." I promptly ran down to the cellar to grab a bottle.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Those who've ever thought wine writing was a bit sniffy will find McInerney's cheeky and informative squibs on wine a generous, almost ham-handed pleasure. In this collection of short essays, reproduced from his monthly column in House & Garden, the increasingly avid reader is enveloped in the various wines he tastes. It's sexy. But it's not just wine that's sexy here, it's also the people who have "caught the wine bug" and dedicate themselves to making their own labels. McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City; The Good Life) ferrets out the small winemakers, investigates their ethos and tastes their efforts with the same glee and tireless interest he dedicates to the big bottlers. This sense of discovery permeates each essay as he links the wine to its history, where the grapes come from and the culture that goes into its making. Readers will learn more than even the most dedicated oenephile can use, but everyone can be inspired to find the next bottle of something special for any occasion. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"From start to finish, first sip to last, A Hedonist in the Cellar is crisp, stylish and very funny." —The New York Times Book Review"As bracing as high-acid Riesling. . . . McInerney the novelist, with his eye for detail and smart aleck wit, is never far from the page, [and] he's able to get inside each destination and suss out what makes it interesting." —The Washington Post Book World"Splendid vino vignettes [that] pique both curiosity and thirst."—Entertainment Weekly"[McInerney's] research is impeccable. . . . Wine writer or novelist, the man is a story teller and a good one, [and] he is a hard-working professional who brings solid reporting and exceptional narrative skills to a subgenre woefully in need of them."—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400044825
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/24/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.65 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay McInerney
Jay McInerney is the author of Bright Lights, Big City; Ransom; Story of My Life; Brightness Falls; The Last of the Savages; Model Behavior; and The Good Life, as well as an earlier collection of wine essays, Bacchus and Me. A contributing writer to House & Garden, he lives in New York.
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Read an Excerpt

Part Six: Matches Made in HeavenWhat to Drink with ChocolateNot far from the spot where Romeo secretly married Juliet, in the Valpolicella hills overlooking Verona, I discovered a more fortunate and successful match. I had just finished lunch with Stefano Cesari, the dapper proprietor of Brigaldara, in the kitchen of his fourteenth-century farmhouse, and I was trying to decide if it would be incredibly uncouth to ask who made the beautiful heather-toned tweed jacket he was wearing, when he put some dark chocolates from Perugia in front of me and opened a bottle of his 1997 Recioto della Valpolicella. One hesitates to describe any marriage as perfect, but I was deeply impressed with the compatibility of his semisweet, raisiny red and the bittersweet chocolates. Cesari later took me up to the loft of the big barn and showed me the hanging trays where Corvina and Rondinella grapes are dried for several months after harvest, which concentrates the grape sugars and ultimately results in an intense, viscous wine that, like Tawny Port, Brachetto, and a few other vinous oddities, enhances the already heady and inevitably romantic experience of eating chocolate.The Cabernet, Merlot, or Shiraz you drank with your steak may get along well with a simple chocolate dessert, especially if the wine is young and the fruit is really ripe, but real chocoholics should check out the dried-grape wines, many of which are fortified—that is, dosed with brandy, in the manner of Port, a process that stops fermentation and leaves residual sugar. "Fortification seems helpful in terms of matching chocolate," says Robert Bohr, the wine director at Cru, in Greenwich Village, which has one of the best wine lists in the country, if not the world. Bohr likes Tawny Port with many chocolate desserts, finding Vintage Port too fruity. (McInerney does too, and advises that some of the best Tawnies come from Australia's Barossa Valley.) But most of all Bohr likes Madeira.If you were to order the Hacienda Concepción chocolate parfait at Cru, Bohr would direct you to a vintage Madeira like the 1968 d'Oliveiras Boal. Madeira has become so unfashionable in the past century that many putative wine lovers have never tasted it, but I'm sensing the stirrings of a cult revival spearheaded by supergeeks like Bohr. The sweeter Malmsey style seems to be best suited to chocolate desserts. And by chocolate, I mean, of course, dark chocolate. Milk chocolate should be consumed only by day, if at all, and accompanied by milk.The cough-syrupy Umbrian passito wine is made in the same fashion as Recioto from the mysterious and sappy Sagrantino grape. These powerful, sweet reds seem to have originated as sacramental wines, and they continue to inspire reverence among a small cult of hedonists, myself among them. This practice of drying grapes goes back thousands of years; there are references to drying wine grapes prior to fermentation in Homer and Hesiod. ("When Orion and Sirius come into mid-heaven," Hesiod advises in Works and Days, "cut off all the grape clusters and bring them home. Show them to the sun for ten days and ten nights.") I like to imagine that these dried-grape wines resemble those that were drunk at Plato's symposium or Caligula's bashes—although chocolate wouldn't appear in Europe until the sixteenth century, Columbus having stumbled upon a stash of cacao beans on his fourth and last voyage to the New World.Two of the finest wines for chocolate, Maury and Banyuls, come from remote Roussillon in France's deep southeast. These so-called vins doux naturels are made (mostly) from late-picked Grenache grown on steep, terraced, wind-scoured hillsides near the Spanish border. The standard-bearing Banyuls estate is Domaine du Mas Blanc, one of the world's most famous obscure domaines. I first tasted this wine at JoJo, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's pioneering New York bistro, alongside the warm Valrhona chocolate cake, a nearly erotic experience that I try to re-create at least once a year. (And I'm a guy who doesn't usually even bother with dessert.)Banyuls's neighboring appellation Maury also produces a chocolate-loving vin doux. The village cooperative makes the classic example; I recently had, alongside Le Bernardin's warm chocolate tart, a 1929 that was spectacular, with lots of caramel, date, coffee, and vanilla flavors, plus an oxidized Sherry note, which the French and Spanish call rancio. The finest estate in Maury is Mas Amiel (which once traded hands in a card game), producers of several cuvées of heady Maury, including one raised in the traditional manner of the region, spending a year outdoors in huge glass demijohns, exposed tothe extremes of the Roussillon climate. The demand for these labor-intensive wines, like that for most sweet wines, has beenstatic in the past few decades (Mas Amiel is increasingly focusing on the production of dry table wines), and prices remain modest when compared with Vintage Port or Sauternes.America's answer to Banyuls and Recioto is late-harvest Zinfandel—a fairly rare, sweet style of Zin that is eminently delicious with chocolate, the darker and more bitter the better. This is a good general rule: chocolate with a high cocoa content and a lower milk and sugar content is the most complex, intense, and wine-friendly. As for the desserts, the more complicated they get, the harder they will be to match. Chocolate already has some five hundred flavor compounds—how many more do you need? A chocolate soufflé is a beautiful thing, but it's hard to improve upon a simple piece of Valrhona, Bernachon, or Scharffen Berger dark chocolate, unless of course you pour a Madeira or a Maury alongside it.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     XIII
Foreplay
My Favorite White     3
Friulis Favorite Son: Tocai Friulano     7
Thin Is In: The New Wave of California Chardonnays     11
The Whites of the Andes     15
The Forgotten Whites of Bordeaux     19
No Respect: Soave     23
Gray Is the New White: Pinot Gris     27
Translating German Labels     31
"All Wine Wishes It Could Be Red"
The Shedistas of Santa Barbara     37
The Roasted Slope of the Rhone     41
The House Red of the Montagues and the Capulets     46
"An Extreme, Emotional Wine": Amarone     50
Cape Crusaders: South African Reds     54
The Black Wine of Cahors     58
Major Barbera     62
Go Ask Alice: The Dark Secret of Bandol     66
The Spicy Reds of Chile     70
Malbec Rising     74
Personality Test: Julia's Vineyard     78
How to Impress Your Sommelier
How to Impress Your Sommelier, Part One: German Riesling     85
No More Sweet Talk, or How to Impress Your Sommelier, Part Two: Austrian Riesling     89
The Semi-Obscure Treasures of Alsace     93
The Discreet Charms of Old-Style Rioja     97
The Mysterious Beauty of Sagrantino di Montefalco     101
Lovers, Fighters, and Other Obsessives
Oedipus at Hermitage: Michel Chapoutier     107
Ghetto Boys: Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton Get Radical     111
Jilted Lover: Auberon Waugh     115
The Obsessive: Remirez de Ganuza     119
Berkeley's French Ambassador: Kermit Lynch     123
The Mad Scientist of Jadot     127
Voice in the Wilderness: Willy Frank and the Finger Lakes     131
Finessing the Fruit Bombs     135
Mountain Men: The Smith Brothers of Smith-Madrone     139
Do the Brits Taste Differently? Michael Broadbent and Jancis Robinson     143
Robert Mondavi's Bizarro Twin: The Passions and Puns of Randall Grahm     147
Expensive Dates
First Among Firsts? The Glories of Cheval-Blanc     153
The Name's Bond     158
"A Good and Most Perticular Taste": Haut-Brion     162
The Maserati of Champagne     166
Bacchanalian Dreambook: The Wine List at La Tour d'Argent     170
Matches Made in Heaven
Fish Stories from Le Bernardin     177
What to Drink with Chocolate     181
Provencal Pink     185
Odd Couples: What to Drink with Asian Food     189
Bin Ends
Baby Jesus in Velvet Pants: Bouchard and Burgundy     195
Strictly Kosher     199
Body and Soil     203
New Zealand's Second Act     208
Bubbles and Spirits
Number Two and Bitching Louder: Armagnac     215
White on White: Blanc de Blancs Champagne     219
Monk Business: The Secrets of Chartreuse     223
Tiny Bubbles: Artisanal Champagnes     227
The Wild Green Fairy: Absinthe     231
Epilogue: What I Drank on My Forty-eighth Birthday     337
Selected Bibliography     241
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    The Lost Warrior part 4 - by wintertooth

    The fox came barleing out of its den snarling and lashing its tail.<p> "we are to close to it's den!" Rainwisker mewed half frigtened.<p> "i know that mouse brain!" Beetail replyed.<p> the fox jumped at them.<p> "Quick get in the tree!" Beetail mewed while jumping at the tree. When they had climbed the tree the fox snarld with dissapointment. Soon the fox left and the climbed down.<p> "that was close!" Rainwisker mewed.<p> "i know!" Beetail mewed back. They countined there journey and soon foud treeclan's border.<p> "i-i guess its good bye then." Rainwisker mewed and walked back to his camp.<p> - The End

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