LINDA JOHNSON-BELL is an active wine journalist and panel judge in England and France and is the former editor-in-chief of Vintage International Magazine. She is a former winner of the Prix Louis Marinier, Bordeaux, for her wine writing. An American by birth, she has lived in England since 1991.
This compact and comprehensive work rejects the notion that pairing wine with food is as simplistic as matching red with meat and white with chicken. Rather, it is a dish's flavors-sweet, sour, spicy, and salty-that must guide wine selection. Using this premise, Johnson-Bell, a wine journalist and panel judge, has written a handy guide explaining the tastes and aromas of wine and food and how this knowledge enhances the enjoyment of both. While much of the material has been seen before-e.g., charts of wine smells and varietals-this book makes excellent and unique contributions: a fairly exhaustive cross-referencing of wines and their perfect gastronomical partners (including cheeses and mushrooms), a table matching herbs and spices with wines, and the admission that, in the final analysis, champagne goes with anything. Useful for everyone from beginning oenophiles to restaurateurs, this is a highly recommended bargain for all collections. Library Journal Much has been written about the interrelationships between food and wine. Johnson-Bell approaches the subject from the perspective of a consumer for whom wine is the central focus. The point of matching foods to wines is primarily one of personal taste, but there are some general guidelines to prevent unpleasant clashing of flavors. As the author points out, the growing popularity of non-European cuisines has made food-wine matching even more problematic. Nevertheless, there are some thoughtful ways to go about picking a wine to accompany those enchiladas or that pad thai. Johnson-Bell writes clearly about how food flavors affect the way wine is perceived and vice versa. For those who want simply some prescriptive advice, this book offers long lists of foods matched to appropriate wines. Her tables of wine names and the grapes that go into them are also useful for reference. Booklist The superlative precision provided in Pairing Wine and Food should serve to blur the divisiveness often found between foodies and grape nuts. At its best, the palate game (played by both food and wine lovers) requires the most honed tasting skills backed by a prodigious memory. Johnson-Bell has contributed a splendid resource for the novice and expert. Foreword Magazine