Thursday, January 3, 2008

Announcing the Wine Book Club: First Edition

Wine blogging is already changing the way that many people around the world research, read and learn about all things wine related. Why not up the ante then by creating a community that helps to strengthen that trend by reading together, blogging together and, in the process, learning together? That’s just what I think Dr. Debs had in mind when she proposed the idea of a Wine Book Club to a modestly sized group of equally zealous wine bloggers. Based roughly on the model of Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW), the Wine Book Club (WBC) will be an on-line forum (or meme, if you prefer) where wine and food bloggers, as well as any other interested participants, can – and hopefully will – come together every other month to read, discuss and critique a selected wine book. As Deb was kind enough to take care of the bulk of the nitty-gritty, behind the scenes work needed to get the ball rolling, I figured the least I could do was to step up and host our first meeting.

So, without further ado, the text we’ve selected for the inaugural session of the Wine Book Club is Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy, by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch.

A 500 page tome may seem like a rather daunting choice for our first session. However, Bastianich and Lynch’s book is organized along regional lines and interspersed with photos, recipes, anecdotal tidbits and fact sheets that should help to make it a lively read with plenty of natural starting and stopping points. I think it’s safe to say that Vino Italiano is being viewed as the new benchmark book on Italian wines, taking over from long out-of-print classics such as The Wine Atlas of Italy by Burton Anderson and Italian Wine by Victor Hazan. The celebrity status of Bastianich, particularly through association with business partner and chef Mario Batali, mother and mentor Lidia Bastianich, and via his family’s own Friuli-based winery, Azienda Agricola Bastianich, has also brought attention to the book from well beyond the usual circle of wine freaks. VI has been in the wine library at my workplace since it was released and I’ve referred to it in snippets many times. Now I’m looking forward to the opportunity to read it cover-to-cover. And I hope you’ll all join me in doing so.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to pick up a copy of Vino Italiano – whether from the library, from your own bookshelf, from your favorite local shop or via the Amazon shopping link at the end of this posting – read it and report back on it with your considered critique or just with some simple thoughts and reactions. The due date for this “book report” is Tuesday, February 26, in keeping with the every other month schedule for the Wine Book Club. Though the expense of participating in WBC shouldn’t differ much from WBW, we realize that it may take a bit more time to read and digest a book than to sniff, taste and spit or swallow a glass or two of wine.

There are a few ways to participate:

  • If you’re already a blogger, simply post your review on or before February 26 and send me an email (davidmcduff at verizon dot net) with a link to your posting.
  • If you’re not a blogger but would like to participate, you’re more than encouraged to. For later editions of the WBC, you’ll be able to post your reviews at As the WBC site is not quite up and ready, this time around you’re welcome to post your review in the comments section of the “due date” article I’ll post on the 26th or to send me an email with your full review which I’ll then include in the summary posting a few days after our deadline. Of course, you could also take this as the inspiration to start your own blog.
  • If you’ve already reviewed Vino Italiano, just send me a link to your old posting, though I’d love to see you post an updated piece with some new thoughts or reflections.

Realizing that two months will give everyone just as much time to procrastinate or even to forget about the due date as to read the book, I’ll post periodic reminders. At about the half-way point, I’ll also post a question or two that I’d like everyone to consider addressing in their reviews. So check back often and stay in touch; your questions and comments are always welcome. Happy reading!


Anonymous said...

Hi David
Count me in!


Anonymous said...


Thanks for hosting. I'll put down "To Cork or Not To Cork" and pick up a copy of this pronto. Lord knows, I'm not the fastest reader so I'll need the whole two months to get through it!

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, David, for getting us off to such a great start. The first chapter is on the whites of Friuli--a perfect thing to read while sipping on your wine for WBW.

Anonymous said...

I'm game! Just ordered my copy. Great tie-in with current WBW theme.

BTW, your link to has a typo ("").


Jeff (Good Grape) said...

I'll look forward to participating. The good news is, I already have Vino Italiano and, no, I haven't read it. So, score one for having book inventory to read through, as Dr. Debs elaborated on.

I am in the midst of reading the Victor Hazan book, and I have to say it reads like an old friend. I hope Vino Italiano is as accessible.


Mark V Marino said...

Sounds interesting I will try it I need more knowledge of Italian wine.

David McDuff said...

Thanks for jumping on board, all. I'm hoping for a great turnout and some lively debate.

James, thanks for the proofreading. I fixed the typo earlier today.

Sean Sellers said...

Hi David,

This seems like a great idea, so you can definitely count in one-half of

There's a wonderful Sardinian restaurant in my London neighbourhood and I'm always marvelling over its wine list.

It also seems like a great way to get know some fellow bloggers.


David McDuff said...

Welcome, Sean. It's great to see you helping to make this a global event.

Anonymous said...

I'm in - what a great idea!

David McDuff said...

Welcome aboard, Erin. We'll be glad to have you along for the ride.

Joe Roberts said...

Sounds like fun, I'm in!

Jules said...

I'm in but the review might be late - had to order the book off Amazon because I could not get a local retailer to import the paperback.

David McDuff said...

Welcome, wine dude. And no problem, Jules. I'll be sure to add your report to the summary when you have it ready.

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