Book Review: The Wines and Foods of Piemonte, by Tom Hyland
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The Wines and Foods of Piemonte by Tom Hyland is a thoughtful and user-friendly book that provides a wealth of information from a reputable source.
Tom Hyland, a freelance wine writer for publications such as Decanter and wine-searcher.com, has traveled Italy extensively in search of good wine and food. Yet, he notes, “There is no question in my mind that more great red wines are produced in Piemonte than in any other Italian region.” In his book The Wines and Foods of Piemonte, published July 2016 by the University of Nebraska Press, his enthusiasm is infectious and his knowledge from first-hand, long-term experience is evident.
Tom takes the reader on a journey through Piemonte, describing the region’s wines in a concise manner. The text is supplemented with several maps of wine zones created by Alessandro Masnaghetti. Photographs taken by Tom, who is also a freelance photographer, are included on many pages (in full color and black and white). They portray vineyard landscapes—many of which fall under a UNESCO World Heritage—foods, grapes, winemakers, and chefs.
The Wines and Foods of Piemonte, by Tom Hyland
Tom was already compelled to write about Italian wines in his 2013 book Beyond Barolo and Brunello: Italy’s Most Distinctive Wines. But what passion strikes, it doesn’t let go, as he noted in his 2014 interview with Wine Pass, and he soon began penning Wines and Foods. In his newest book, he of course gives the “big B’s” their due—Barolo and Barbaresco—but his research and travels cover not only the important denominations of Piemonte wine, but also overlooked wines like Timorasso, Ruché, and the Nebbiolos of the north. He wisely chooses not to attempt a summary of all of Piemonte’s grapes, for the region (and all of Italy) has innumerable varieties that would amount to little more than trivia, he notes.
This book is intended for the wine lover. In this category, it would satisfy all levels. His matter-of-fact, unpretentious writing style and uncomplicated yet precise wine descriptions can be digested by the beginner. And, however extensive your knowledge of Piemonte wines may be, this book is invaluable to anyone who wants to buy a good bottle of Piemonte wine.
In fact, I plan on taking it with me on my next trip to the enoteca! For each wine, Tom lists any number of recommendations—both winemakers and vintages—with mouthwatering descriptions. What makes his opinions so valuable is that they are absolutely trustworthy. With a palate that has been tasting Italian wines and writing thoughtful articles about them for decades, I personally trust Tom’s taste and opinion very much. The book is well-organized and the appendices provide a quick reference with his 200 “highly recommended wines” lists.
The second half of the book is dedicated to interviews of producers and chefs. Over a dozen of Piemonte’s most representative winemakers of the Langhe, Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Boca, and Gattinara talk about their winemaking styles and philosophies. Of the seven chefs he interviewed, one is Michelin starred and the others are highly regarded in Piemonte and abroad. Tom asked them questions about their cooking and wine pairing philosophies, giving insight into how you can best enjoy these wines. Just try not to get too hungry while reading their delectable descriptions of Piemonte’s best dishes.
Make sure you take a look at Tom’s blog, Learn Italian Wines. To purchase the book, click here.
Book received by author