If you’re a serious wine drinker, there are many occasions when you’ve yearned for a wine book that is not pompous, boring, or written by someone who believes himself or herself to be the God of the grape.
Such a book has arrived: Hungry for Wine: Seeing the World Through the Lens of a Wine Glass, by Cathy Huyghe (Provisions Press; cathyhuyghe.com). Huyghe narrates her journey from wine lover to wine writer in a compelling and human way. The book consists of twelve chapters that focus on wine-related stories from around the globe—people and producers the author has visited and bonded with—and each concludes with a tasting note on a specific wine that relates to that chapter.
There are some powerful stories here. The first one, “How to Live Your Wine Life With No Regrets,” tells the tale of a 93 year-old wine collector in West, Cambridge, Mass., who has amassed a formidable cellar over the years. He shares a problem common to many of us: he has become more focused on collecting than drinking. As he gives the narrator a tour of his underground cellar, it becomes clear that most of the great bottles are past their prime and undrinkable. In the act of obsessively waiting for the perfect moment to drink each bottle, the man has denied himself that pleasure. The tasting note focuses on the 1970 Rauzan-Gassies, one of the wines the collector displays during the visit. Huyghe tracks down two bottles and finds them to be oxidized to the point of vinegar. She barely needs to draw the parallel—in life, as in wine, you’re far better off seizing the moment while you can best enjoy it.
Many of the other tales are just as vivid. Huyghe takes us to a Greek winery struggling to prosper in the midst of the country’s ongoing economic crisis; visits the only producer in Syria, an operation that somehow continues to make wine in the midst of war and revolution; she takes us hiking in Patagonia, and gives us a rare glimpse of the people who are really responsible for the wine we drink—the vineyard workers who endure the arduous and sometimes dangerous job of harvesting grapes.
Get Cathy Huyghe’s book and curl up with a glass or two. When you finish, you’ll be much hungrier for wine than when you started.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); his first novel, Friend of the Devil, is forthcoming from Black Opal Books in Spring 2016. For more information, go to amazon.com