It’s almost 20 years ago now since Josh Wesson wrote his first book on food and wine pairing - the ground-breaking Red Wine with Fish: the new art of Matching Wine with Food which he co-authored with David Rosengarten. He then went on to set up the attractive and innovative wine store Best Cellars which groups wines by style
This book takes a similar approach. (It also, interestingly, adopts the presentational technique Mitchell Beazley pioneered in my own Wine by Style published in 1998 which identified wine styles by flavour icons though I have to concede they do it much more prettily here!)
At the heart of the book are 50 recipes grouped to go with each of the wine styles. So, for example, in ‘smooth reds’ you have a flavour profile of the aromas and flavours to expect, the grape varieties that share these characteristics and six recipes that would suit wines of this type accompanied by ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ matches
With many old world producers now making wine in what might be conceived as a new world style I’m not totally convinced about this breakdown, these days. From recommendations with the pan-roasted duck breasts with dried-cherry sauce you might conclude you could only drink Merlot if it was from the New World whereas you could equally well partner the dish with a modern red Bordeaux. But the basic advice is sound and the recipes attractive and lavishly illustrated (despite being published by Bonnier Books in the UK, this is a Williams Sonoma title).
I can’t wait to try the coffee-rubbed back ribs, a good match, Wesson says, with Rioja Rosado or - intriguingly - an off dry white Zin. This book is clearly not for wine snobs.
The main disappointment is that there’s nothing on cheese which would have been helpful, even at this introductory level but if you want an unscary wine book to give to an enthusiastic cook who is always expressing his - or more likely her - frustration at not knowing more about wine this is a good option.
Personally I still find Wesson’s first book, of which I still have a well-thumbed copy on my bookshelf, more exciting.*
NB Oddly I can't find a copy of this edition on Amazon. I picked it up in a branch of Waterstone's in Oxford Street where it was selling for £16.99. You may have to order it from a bookshop or contact the publisher direct.