The Internet, blogs and video have made arm-chair travelers the world over very happy people indeed. It is easier than ever to make virtual visits all over the globe. But nothing beats good old-fashioned book readin’.
Descriptions in many books allow you to form pictures and impressions through your very own imagination. Books can often make a place jump right off the page and come alive in your mind and heart.
Passion on the Vine, is one of those books.
If you like Italy, wine and Italian culture. This is one for your bookshelf.
Sergio Esposito, a succesful entrepreneur, passionate Italian wine drinker and Italian expat is the owner and creator of Italian Wine Merchants in New York City. His goal, which was successfully reached, was to introduce and make accessable, a variety of good quality Italian wines to New York and America, in a time where Italian wine consisted of Chianti in a plump, straw-covered bottles.
Esposito tells of his childhood in Naples and how his family’s hard-times caused them to move to the US to live with a relative in Albany, New York. Forced to eat bland dinners consisting of sub-par ingredients with relatives, he discovers a love and passion for wine at a very young age. It becomes his special gift. Later he moves to NYC, works in the famed San Domenico restaurant before becoming a wine consultant, eventually meets Batali and Bastianich. Soon after, Italian Wine Merchants was born. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A good part of the book describes his frequent wine-buying trips to his beloved Italy. His first experience with good Italian wine comes after his father gave him the freedom as a young teenager to explore Pisa and surrounding Tuscany for a few days on his own, while the rest of the family travelled to Naples. Much later in life he took his reluctant parents, along with his wife and two small children, on a countrywide wine-buying and tasting trip extravaganza.
The book showcases vineyards and producers both large and small, in different regions of Italy. It provides an insightful look into both modern and traditional wine styles. The conversations, vineyard tours and detailed descriptions of his three-hour-dinners with friends will both entertain you and leave you wanting more.
I enjoyed this memoir, especially the humorous parts. Esposito’s passion for Italian food and wine, as well as his love of his homeland, shine though.
Hopefully Passion on the Vinewill inspire you to travel to Italy. Or at the very least, tempt you to experiment with Italian wines not named Chianti.