The Complete Guide: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere is an amazing gift. To have this book for my wine library is a tremendous resource; and, making the time to read it delivered even more gifts.

Written by Mike Desimone & Jeff Jenssen, two very savvy World Wine Guys who are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, have gone around the world and are now sharing those adventures. Their gathered stories are warm and very informative, sharing much of what they learned in this very thorough book. Representing each region well, they also present it in such a way that the only thing left to satisfy is your own personal curiosity through adventures you need to start planning….

Much of the Southern Hemisphere has escaped me because I’ve never physically made it over the equator. I’ve been to the South Pacific, to the Caribbean, Canada, most of the US states (40+ states), and to Europe… but not gone over the equator.

My favorite section was Chile. Perhaps it’s because I was part of the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, and enjoying those wine immensely. It was very enlightening about this wine grape growing country, with the book connecting me on a much deeper level with that recent wine exposure.

This map was provided for that tasting, and I’m sharing it here because it’s such a great visual for understanding the regions within Chile. I was transported a bit, by reading the geographies of each wine growing country.

Sections of the book present the following, in alphabetical order:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Uruguay

It was also fun to find some of my wine friends mentioned in the book; like Randle Johnson of The Hess Collection, the Preston family at Mills Reef Winery in New Zealand, and having Errazruiz pop up in the book reminded me of my days at Robert Mondavi Winery, which was in partnership with Errazruiz at the time. As wine educators, we got to taste/enjoy the wine quite regularly.

Each section has a rhythm:

  • Historical and terroir introduction, not named as such, though
  • Then named:
    • Major Grape Varieties
    • Recipes
    • In Their Own Words ~ pearls of wisdom from movers and shakers of this country’s prominently placed personalities

The book is filled with great reminders for me, and I’m going to share just one. I studied the mission grape for a final exam presentation for my Enology 101 class. This was when I learned how the US’s first Vitis vinifera vines were planted in the US by Jesuit Missionaries. Well, they planted a lot of other places in the world, too… Spreading the word of their Christian God, while growing grapes, and enjoying wine in their new worlds. (This book delivers a comprehensive list of the countries where the Jesuits traveled… Johnny Apple Seed, of a different sort.)

SIDEBAR IRONY: My great grandfather from 10 generations ago, the Reverend William Blackstone, was sent over to the new world by King James in 1623, to preach the King James version of the Bible. Blackstone landed in Massachusetts, and by 1625 had migrated to a hill overlooking a bay… the Boston Harbor… And, he chose to build a small house on top of the hill (Beacon Hill), naming his common pasture before him as his “Common.” He also developed the golden Sweetings apple…

This was the answer to the Protestant movement… apples, while the Spanish movement was wine… Let’s see, I’m thinking the converts with wine had more fun; although a freshly picked apple is a real treat, too…

PARTY DOWN, GARTH: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere has – perhaps unwittingly – created a “Perfect Down Under Party” concept… The recipe section has a notable personality’s recipe, authentic to the region. It appears to me that someone could

  • Choose a recipe, practice it to new perfection
  • Continue on, learning each one… It could takes months to prepare for this party.
  • Then, once all of the recipes are completely perfected, create a party.
    • Each Guest is tasked to bring the wine from a certain region.
    • Each wine with its corresponding dish is on a separate table…
    • The tables could also be decorated with regional ethnicity.
    • Once set up, your family and friends can wander, taste, savor, explore, learn, and enjoy.

The book was not only an educational read for me, but it was also very inspirational, in a lot of ways, including the party that popped into my mind… I really want to  explore so much more of the wine world through wine, food, and travel… Now, I really need to go down under, I believe.


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