My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy this year. To celebrate (and help plan) he got me this textbook on all things Italian wine. I can confirm that this is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the wines of Italy. I learned so much about the grape varietals, wine production, and even individual producers and wines of Italy. This book is rich in knowledge, but deeper knowledge than I needed as a layperson.
I continued returning to this book for the short vignettes of Italian life. Bastianich begins each chapter with these beautiful descriptions of his journies throughout the countryside. His story of the fry men in Cinque Terre actually made me at that stop to our list of places to visit. His beautiful stories have me dreaming of Tuscan sunsets and Venetian prosecco.
Outside of some beautiful prose, this is a book that is heavy with knowledge. It is full of tasting menus and regional recipes. Bastianich breaks down the Italian DOC system into concepts that are easily understood. I feel so familiar with the history of wine. I even kind of understand why different geography and soil compositions work better for some varietals than others.
There was so much information that this was a bit out of my depth. Don't get me wrong. It was fascinating and enjoyable, but it was at a 201 level. I only needed 101. If you are a sommelier or a collector this is perfect for you, but if you are looking for an introduction to Italian wine this will drown you with information. The list of wines or producers was more than I needed. Doing it over, I would have only read the relevant sections. Vino Italiano is better as a reference book.
Overall, I liked it. It wasn't a big win for me but it was a valuable investment. In retrospect, I wish I had only read the chapters about the regions that I was considering visiting. If I had though, I probably wouldn't have added Cinque Terre to my list.