This book is organized into three main sections: 1. Italian wine history, law and labelling (15 pages) 2. The different wine regions of Italy and the various wines made there (360 pages) 3. Reference material (130 pages)
The meat of the book is section 2, and it is fantastic. Each of Italy's wine regions are covered in their own chapter. As well as covering all the important wines made in the region, each chapter opens with a story about the region to illustrate the regional character. Whilst reading these one can't help but daydream about lazy summer afternoons spent sipping wine in the Italian countryside... which definitely puts you in the mood for a drink! At the end of each chapter there is a "Fast Facts" section revising the main info from the chapter. Finally, each regional chapter concludes with a "food for the wine" section. This is not pretentious navel-gazing; Italian wines are made to be enjoyed with food.
In summary - I'm a bit of a wine-geek and own lots of books about wine. This is definitely one of my favourites
Italian wines can be confusing at the best of times, and with a large number of different grape varieties that aren't grown much outside of Italy, it can be difficult to know where to start. Vino Italiano, by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch, fills this hole nicely. It breaks down Italian wine region by region, discussing red, white, sparkling and sweet wines, and the different methods and regional styles for each. There are many useful wine maps, both of Italy and given regions, and well designed summary pages for each region, which are useful if you just want to use the book as a reference.
What jumped out at me though was the book's accessibility. It doesn't assume you know anything about Italian wines or grape varieties. Each chapter begins with an anecdote about the region of interest, talking about the people, climate, and history, so you really get a taste for the region, rather than just a list of facts. For each region, there are designed tastings, so that you can go through some wines with guidance if you want, and a section on food with the wine, with recipes for local cuisine. There is serious discussion on wine-making and viticulture too, with a discussion on a few producers thrown in if you want to go deeper.
If one thing disappointed, it was that this book is clearly written for an American audience. Often there was discussion about what was or wasn't imported in the US, or current US wine trends. All of the guided tastings are designed to be wines you can get in the US, and the recipes for the local cuisine are measured in cups. Obviously the content about the wine and grapes is country independent, but if you are looking to access some of the tasting material, this is worth considering.
Overall though, I was very pleased with the book, and at the price I paid for it (around £8), it represents excellent value for money. I learnt a lot about Italian wine, and, rare for a long wine book, was able to read it cover to cover. If you are looking to learn something about Italian wine, it is difficult to see a better place to start.
Together with 'from Barolo to Valpolicella' and 'from Brunello tot Zibibbo'(N. Belfrage) is this thé book every Italian wine lover should have. Everything you should know is in there and much much more !
Although somewhat out of date in terms of wine information (it's a 2005 edition), the book offers an interesting and gentle tour through the Italian wine regions setting the wines in context and illustrating aspects of the country with local anecdotes. Good value at the price offered.
Although written from an American perspective, this book introduces you to the grapes, wines, food and culture of each Italian wine region. If only there were more books like this available for other wine regions.