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Monday, November 22, 2010

DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Taste Buds and Molecules (Chartier)

TASTE BUDS AND MOLECULES; the art and science of food with wine (McClelland & Stewart, 2010, 223 pages, ISBN 978-0-7710-2253-1, $39.99 Canadian, hard covers) is an English translation of the 2009 French-Canadian book by Francois Chartier, a leading sommelier in Quebec and author of the annual La Selection Chartier, a wine-buying guide now in its 15th edition. He is currently researching more on molecular harmonies and wine stewardship. Certainly, one cannot beat the endorsement of Ferra Adria and Juli Soler of elBulli restaurant in Spain. He begins by identifying the aromatic compounds responsible for fragrances, and finding which ones are in common with wine and food. He takes the gustatory experience right down to the molecular level in both wine and food, and then makes suggested pairings based on the relationships. This is only the first of a series of books, as he works his way through the aromas of foods and wines. Obviously, he owes a debt to elBulli, but he takes the molecular experience steps further. There's a chapter on sauvignon blanc and anise-flavoured foods and wines; there's a chapter on gewurztraminer and ginger and lychee; strawberries and pineapples also have a connection. Rosemary seems to go well with Alsatian wines. There are chapters on sherries (all things to all people), maple syrup, oak and barrels, cloves, saffron, cinnamon, and capsaicin. He ends up with a molecular tasting meal with two master chefs. There are a few recipes and some menu ideas. There's a graphic display and a white-on-black layout that could be hard (or fatiguing) for some to read. Maybe it was an attempt to get younger readers? I think that I would really like to read this book as a text, maybe an e-text, without the pictures and graphic charts and arrows. It's really busy, and it does cause enough stress that I'd like a drink of wine after I read each chapter!!

Audience and level of use: the serious food and wine lover.

Some interesting or unusual facts: Eugenol is the dominant volatile compound in cloves and is one of the principal aromatics generated by charred oak barrels. Cloves also contain vanillin and other aromatics that are found in oak barrels. The connection is that an oak-aged wine goes perfectly well with clove-inflected foods.

The downside to this book: my eyes hurt from reading all the graphical-layout of the text with its many colours and arrows.

The upside to this book: the same layout may just appeal to younger wine lovers and attract them to reading about the quality of wine and food pairing.

Quality/Price Rating: 91.



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