MacLean brings romanticism of wine to everyday life


 By Mike Lowe

Award-winning author Natalie MacLean’s second book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, is a deliciously told story of her five-year romp through eight wine producing countries and visits to approximately 40 wineries.

The book contains enough general wine education to be of special interest to the novice wine drinker or those possessing an intermediate level of wine knowledge.

If you are looking for dry, dull, or overtly technical wine facts and figures, read something else. In typical MacLean fashion, one I find particularly refreshing, she approaches her subject from an enlightening and casual perspective.

Natalie MacLean signs her book at a reading in Grimsby. Photo by Mike Lowe.

You’ll meet the colourful characters behind the scenes, and come to understand the passion of the winemakers who toil to bring wine to the masses.

MacLean makes no bones about it: she loves wine, admittedly, perhaps a bit too much. But, then again, don’t we all? Her passages describing the wine, the locales, and the people she meets are cleverly written.

Throughout the book, MacLean succeeds in capturing the romanticism that wine can bring to everyday life while she aptly blurs the line between wine writer and storyteller.

MacLean transports her readers, first to the Australian outback, then on to Germany’s Mosel Valley, South Africa, the island of Sicily, Portugal and France’s Provence region.

Of particular interest to me is the chapter on our own Niagara region. Here she recounts her sharing of a home-cooked meal with Martin Malivoire, a Featherstone lamb dinner at Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine restaurant, an introduction to a unique, aviary form of vineyard pest management at Featherstone winery, and Le Clos Jordanne’s approach to making excellent chardonnay and pinot noir.

Each chapter closes with MacLean’s “Field Notes from a Wine Cheapskate” and a list of wineries visited and her picks for the best-value wines from each.

Malivoire winery in Niagara.

During a book tour last November, MacLean made a stop in Niagara as part of the Grimsby Author Series. MacLean explained, during the sold-out event, that a bargain wine is “defined by a favourable price-to-quality ratio.”

This makes perfect sense to any wine consumer looking to stock a cellar without spending a small fortune.

Unquenchable may not appeal to an overly critical wine snob, but, to the majority of wine lovers, the book will be a most enjoyable read. MacLean’s own words, hand-written inside my copy of the book, say it best — “Enjoy with a good glass of wine … or three.”

• Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines

• By Natalie MacLean

• Hardcover / 320 pp / Doubleday Canada / $29.95 / 978-0-385-66848-4

Also by Natalie MacLean;

Red, White, and Drunk All Over

• Doubleday Canada

• ISBN: 18582346488