Shelley Lindgren was an early proponent of native Italian grape varieties, building a diverse list of under-the-radar wines at A16, her southern-Italian restaurant in San Francisco. She has now assembled her experience as a wine director and her years of producer visits into this insider’s guide to Italian wine. She and co-author Kate Leahy take you through all 20 of Italy’s wine regions, providing a brief history, anecdotes from visits, and an overview of the key grape varieties for each region. They finish each chapter with a brief description of regional foods and a list of recommended producers. It’s not easy to cover large, complex regions like Piedmont in fifteen pages, but Lindgren distinguishes the book by bringing her personal favorites to the fore, giving almost as much attention to Alto Piemonte as to Barolo and Barbaresco. The book really shines in those chapters devoted to lesser-known regions like Puglia and Sardinia, where Lindgren shares her deep experience. I recently used the book as a manual for planning a trip to Puglia, and found her insights and recommendations invaluable. Italian Wine is a quick read for those interested in learning about the diversity of Italy’s wine regions, and an essential guide for anyone who wants to pay a visit to the back roads of the boot.
Italian Wine: The History, Regions and Grapes of an Iconic Wine Country, By Shelley Lindgren and Kate Leahy, Ten Speed Press (2023), 304 pages, $35
This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2023.
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