By Kori ~ May 27th, 2009.
Thank you for joining us for the May “virtual meeting” of the Wine Book Club. Many thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 who originally proposed the idea for the WBC where bloggers and wine lovers come together for book reviews and discussions after reading a selected text. Dr. Debs and I have been the most consistent participants since the WBC started, and therefore, she was kind enough to let me select this month’s book, Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy by Sergio Esposito. Selfishly, I chose a book that I purchased last year and has been sitting on my nightstand since then.
I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to a number of wine regions around the world in the United States, Canada, France, Australia, and New Zealand. The place that is next, I hope, on my list of wine country vacations is Italy. I have enjoyed the wines of Italy for some time and became truly fascinated with the country, particularly Piedmont, after reading Vino Italiano for the very first Wine Book Club last year. Therefore, when Sergio Esposito’s book was released last year, I quickly snatched up a copy.
Sergio Esposito moved with his family from Italy to the United States when he was 6 years old. Even though he left Italy at a very young age, the culture remained a big part of his life because his parents made a point to raise their children with a love and respect for family, food, and wine.
“Italian wine, like Italian food, is simultaneously no big deal and the biggest deal possible.”
In Sergio’s family, wine was always served with meals and even the children were given sips. Wine became his connection to Italy, and he longed to work in the wine business someday. He saved the money he earned working in a restaurant and spent several summers backpacking through Europe. When he left home, he moved to New York City and worked several jobs in the wine industry before founding Italian Wine Merchants which has become the leading Italian wine source in the United States. His work took him on frequent trips to his homeland.
Passion on the Vine is a well-written memoir that makes you feel as if you are sitting at the table with the Esposito family, eating a scrumptious meal prepared with local ingredients and enjoying local wine. And by the way, the meal could last up to four or six hours.
The bulk of the book recounts stories from a trip he took to Italy for the summer with his wife, son, daughter, and parents. He had to spend time there for work but he took his family along so they could visit their homeland. The people and the places that he so vividly describes could just as easily be characters in a novel, but alas, it is even more intriguing to know that these are real people and these things actually happened. One of the most fascinating stories is the last one, a story about Prince Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Verona. The Prince was a genius winemaker but also a bit outrageous. Near the end of his life, he destroyed his vineyards because he could not bear the thought of someone else not treating them properly.
Another thread that weaves its way throughout the book is the sense of duty to make the world a better place for our children and to pass a legacy on to them.
“The most important thing for a wine producer to leave behind is not a beautiful cellar, or the latest machine or wads of money. It is a vineyard. A vineyard is not about wealth and profit and immediacy. A vineyard is your heritage.”
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Italian wine, is considering a trip to Italy, or who just wants an interesting summer read. If this describes you, head on over to Amazon or your book retailer of choice and pick up a copy.
Have you already read Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.
Filed under: Italian Wine, Wine Book Club, Wine Books