When I was at Pearmund Cellars, I saw the book Nose, Legs, Body! by Len Napolitano on sale for $9.99. Reading the description: “know wine like the back of your hand” and seeing the different awards the book received on the back, I decided to give the book a chance. I enjoy quick wine reads, so let’s go…
The book was set up in a Question and Answer (Q&A) format with popular questions asked about wines, vines, tastings, and pairings followed by the author’s answers. For example:
Q1: How does wine get so many flavors and aromas?
A1: You’ll have to read this book to find out… (learn about true varietal characters, yeast, toasted wood, and more)
I liked how Napolitano bolded the wine terms, defined these in the chapter, and again defined them in the back glossary for a quick reference. The author also added exercises in the back of each section to help the reader connect with the lessons learned from each chapter’s questions. For example, in the back of chapter one, there are exercises to help the reader smell and identify different aromas in wine based on a comparison of their household items and encounters (like different spices versus different flowers.)
My favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 4. Here, the author broke down the different classifications and regions for the reader. It is easy to understand the different in a Bordeaux wine versus a Burgundy wine here. Napolitano also broke down the difference in “Old World” versus “New World” wines – a term you have likely come across during a tasting. In this chapter, I also discovered a wine I need to seek out and try: Petite Sirah. The description of this wine as dark, dense, and smoky was intriguing.
Entering Chapter 5, Napolitano had a quick-reference chart with suggestions on what wines to pair with select foods. This is always a popular question – many people want to know what wine pairs best with that steak dinner they ordered, or fish from a fancy restaurant. (I need to get better at this – when I go to a restaurant the first thing I do is seek out the Virginia wines on their menu, then select my personal favorites from there, whether or not it pairs with what I am planning to order.) But back to the chart… It is a nice cheat sheet, though the first thing I noticed was the author clearly likes Pinot Noir (apparently, it pairs well with most things.) A caution for the Virginia wine lover: this list has a heavy selection of popular California wines. There are many Virginia wines not included, such as: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Norton, Petit Menseng, or a good blush. While the cheat sheet is a nice reference, it is not complimentary to the Virginia wine lover.
In fact, there is not much of anything on Virginia wine in this book, so do not be fooled if you see it on the shelf of a Virginia wine shop. There is not as much attention given to our popular varietals, which is especially evident in the food pairings chapter (and I imagine this chapter would be a popular one.)
Overall, Nose, Legs, Body! was a quick, easy read and had some great information for readers looking to broaden their knowledge on wine. I do recommend this book if you want to expand your understanding on tastes, varietals, and different wine regions. A good companion for glossary terms is The New Wine Lover’s Companion by Ron Herbst and Sharon Tyler Herbst. (I have the third edition on my shelf.)
Cheers, and happy reading!