The Barnes & Noble Review
Kevin Zraly is the creator of one of the most famous wine lists in existence: that of the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center in New York City. He is also the founder and instructor of the acclaimed Windows on the World Wine School. In his highly readable book for years recommended by wine writers, producers, and sommeliers as the best, least intimidating book for anyone interested in learning more about wine Zraly takes the reader on a tour of the great wine-producing regions of the world.
Incorporating such useful visual elements as maps, charts, and images of wine labels, Zraly starts with basics such as what kinds of grapes go into wine, how weather affects the harvest, and how to taste wine. Then, in an affable, question-and-answer format, Zraly explores both the red and white wine regions of France, Germany, California, Italy, Spain, and Australia, with detours to Washington, Oregon, and New York State. In each section, he explains which grapes are used in the region's important wines, gives advice on the best wines to buy and what to serve them with, notes trends over the last decade, and explains how to get the most information from wine labels. He also includes very useful sections on special wines like Champagne, Sherry, and Port, with advice on buying, storing, and serving. Sections on matching wine with food, ordering from restaurant wine lists, starting a wine cellar, and even creating a wine list for a restaurant are included as well.
In this year's edition, Zraly has updated his specific wine recommendations, his"BestBets for Recent Vintages" information, and added new sections reflecting recent wine trends. For instance, in California, more acres are planted in Zinfandel grapes than any other variety (the infamous white Zinfandel is the largest-selling varietal wine in the U.S.), but Merlot has seen the fastest rate of new plantings over the past five years. Zraly predicts that California winemakers will continue to experiment with grape varieties like Syrah, Sangiovese, and Grenache.
Throughout Windows on the World Wine Course, Zraly makes it clear that there's no need to be intimidated by wine, whether you're buying an expensive bottle for a special occasion or looking for a fair price on a casual wine from a restaurant wine list. All you need is a basic understanding and a willingness to listen to your own tastebuds. This lively and practical book will help anyone interested in learning more about wine become an enthusiastic and informed wine lover.
. . .should be required reading for neophytes and intermediary wine lovers.
Wine and Spirits
Livelydown-to-earth style makes this an easy and enjoyable read.. . .a must-read. . . .Recommended.
A thoroughly user-friendly overview that asks and answers all the right questions.
. . .a terrific gift.
Zraly's never-flagging enthusiasm for wine bounces off every page...The
14th edition of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course is still the best
of its kind.
New York Times
. . .indispensable.
New York Times Book Review
An elegant smorgasbord. . . One of the best start-from-scratch wine books ever written. . .If you have never bought a wine book before, start with this one. If you have a roomful of wine books, get this one anyway. It's a whole new way to look at the subject.
Zraly, founder and teacher of the Windows on the World Wine School, presents the 14th update of his popular guide to the world of wine. Originally published in 1985, Zraly's book was designed for students, which is reflected in the treatment of each chapter as a class: "white wines of France," "red wines of California," and so on. A loose question-and-answer format prevails, and Zraly also provides a generous sprinkling of entertaining sidebars and informational tidbits. Even collections with Philip Seldon's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine (Alpha, 1996) or Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan's Wine for DummiesR (IDG, 1998) should consider Zraly's book--each of these titles has its own strengths. Zraly offers more detail on Chilean and Argentinean wines, while the other two titles offer information on Portuguese wines not found in Zraly's book. For the restaurant owner or wine steward, Zraly also offers information on creating a wine list. Recommended for medium and large public libraries or any academic library where culinary arts titles are collected.--John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
How to Have a Wine Tasting in Your Home
Here are tips on how to throw a successful California wine tasting that can accommodate ten people in your own home.
The best way is to use six bottles of wine -- three white, three red. They should be served in this order:
Next serve your reds, starting with:
- Riesling -- light bodied
- Sauvignon Blanc -- medium bodied
- Chardonnay -- full bodied
You should have six glasses per person so you're not mixing the wines, and each person should get about 1-1/2 ounces.
- Pinot Noir -- light bodied
- Merlot -- medium bodied
- Cabernet Sauvignon -- full bodied
Have your friends list the wines they're drinking and have them make simple notes, such as, "I like it" or "I don't like it." They don't have to give elaborate reasons why, just yes or no answers will be fine. Also, you can make the event more interesting by having someone at your party do a little research on each one of the wines you'll be sampling, provide a little history of where the wine is from, etc.
It is a good idea, too, to have some extra bottles of wine available for after the tasting.
If you plan to serve food along with the wine, make it light, because food will alter the taste of the wine. Zraly recommends matching wine and cheese with a "keep-it-simple" approach. The best cheeses for wine are the subtly flavored ones.
His favorite wine and cheese matches are:
What to drink with Brie? Zraly suggests champagne or sparkling wine. Blue cheeses, because of their strong flavor, overpower most wines, except for dessert wines. The classic and truly delicious matches are Roquefort cheese with French Sauternes and Stilton cheese with port.
- Chevre/fresh goat cheese -- Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc
- Montrachet, aged (dry) Monterey Jack -- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pecorino -- Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello, Pinot Noir
- Parmigiano Reggiano -- Amarone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo