The World Wine Guys, aka Jeff Jenssen and Mike DeSimone, are two of my favorite colleagues in the world of wine journalism, and they’ve recently made quite career out of publishing such textbook-like treatises as Wines of California and Wines of the Southern Hemisphere. But Red Wine, cowritten with veteran wine educator Kevin Zraly, is their most ambitious, interesting, downright-useful effort yet.
Running through “50 Essential Varieties & Styles” from the Greek agiorgitiko to the California-championed zinfandel, the authors dive deep into each grape, explaining its history, exploring its flavors, suggesting food pairings, and selecting their favorite examples, from bargains to splurges. There are relevant quotations from famous vintners, photographs of typical clusters, important chateaux, legendary vineyards, and, for those many grapes grown in multiple regions, a description of how the variety does in each locale.
It’s a great introductory book for a new wine lover — the chapters are short and punchy but thorough — and also a very solid reference text for true experts as well. Thanks to Jenssen and DeSimone’s work for Wine Enthusiast reviewing some of the odd wine-growing corners of the globe, there are plenty of surprises as well: the Turkish grapes boğazkere and öküzgözü, for instance, or Bulgaria’s mavrud, Romania’s fetească neagră, and the cabernet sauvignon–grenache hybrid known as marselan, which is taking off in China.
Altogether, Red Wine is a great addition to your wine library, whether as the first entry in your collection or the 100th.