by Kate Heyhoe
What to get for your favorite enophile this holiday? Whether you're giving to a compulsive cork-sniffer or just a casual wine lover, you'll be the hit of the gift-giving parade with the Napa Valley Expedition Guide.
Written and narrated by Antonia Allegra, this tidy little package has it all. Complete with an audio tour, colorful guidebook, map, and CD-rom, the Napa Valley Expedition Guide is almost like being in Napa Valley itself. Antonia (Toni) cheerfully shares her insight and insider tips, as if you were riding along with her behind the wheel. Besides being the editor-in-chief of The Vine Napa Valley (a slick and tasty magazine), Toni is the author of Napa Valley: The Ultimate Wine Guide (Chronicle Books), and is an award-winning food and wine writer. Despite her lofty credentials, she is completely down-to-earth, never stuffy, and she imbues this guide with the same spirit of excitement that she holds in her heart for her home, Napa Valley. She's like a goodwill ambassador to the wine country.
Even if you've never been to the North America's most prestigious wine region, this guide provides a fun, vicariously satisfying, multimedia experience. The package is promoted as a "self-guided driving tour of the history, wineries and wines that have shaped the Napa Valley," but I found it fascinating to listen to and explore while seated solidly at my laptop or while puttering in my kitchen, without actually driving to each of the eleven wineries and five historic locations. The audio tour narration is so enjoyable and informative, you almost want to listen to it while sipping wines of the Napa Valley (though not recommended if actually driving while listening).
In fact, this guide is a fun, entertaining tool for becoming acquainted with wine in general. Through videos, audio narrations, and 88-printed pages, you can learn about how wine is made, the distinguishing characteristics of grapes, an explanation of terroir, and where and why the world's great wine growing areas exist. The inviting graphics rival those of Dorling-Kindersley publications, with a snappy montage of images capturing your eye and leading it around the pages.
It's also a good gift for commuters who spend lots of time behind the wheel. Instead of being stuck in traffic listening to radio, they can be learning all about wine. Then, when they finally get home, that glass of vino sipped for unwinding or with dinner will, enhanced by tidbits from the Napa Valley Expedition Guide, most assuredly taste even better.
Since the guide does not include recipes, I've assembled below a few dishes from Napa Valley chef and founder of NapaStyle (napastyle.com), Michael Chiarello, meant to be savored with wine, preferably a rich Napa cabernet, buttery chardonnay, or other wine country classic.
Napa Valley Expedition Guide
Audio Tour + Guidebook + CD-ROM
By Antonia Allegra
Windows and Mac Compatible
Profiles, Reflections & Recipes from the Napa Valley
by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created November 2003
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