As I run a wine site, I get deluged with books about wine. Most of them tend to be rather boring, dry, and stuffy. "Chardonnay comes from X. It goes well with Y. Drink the offerings from region Z." You open the next book and it says the exact same thing. It gets to the point where you dread getting another book in the mail to take a look at. Could they possibly have something new to offer?

Pinotage by Peter May is a refreshing change. The book is a detective story that begins immersed in the orange soils and clear bright blue skies of South Africa. Peter explores the dusty dirt roads and quiet corners, seeking out information, filtering out the rumor from the fact. He provides beautiful images of the landscapes he has visited and intriguing discussions with the winemakers about the vines and wines they adore.

Peter didn't stop there. He headed out to California, New Zealand, even up-and-coming Virginia to track down winemakers who were fond of this delicious grape. In each location he found a wealth of information and history.

He provides the DNA history of pinotage as well as reams of footnotes, so that an enthusiastic scholar can walk in his footsteps and see where he gleaned all of his information. I appreciate that a lot - it helps me feel secure in the details that Peter provides.

If I had one suggestion it would be for a color version so that I could enjoy the images even more, but I imagine the price of the book would skyrocket as a result. So I'm content to enjoy this copy, and while most wine books get read once and then shelved, this one actually is fun on a second read!


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