First of all, I have to apologize to Alder Yarrow of Vinography, regarding his book called The Essence of Wine. When he asked if I’d read it, I was ready. Then, Dharma stood me on my head and it’s taken from September 5 until now to get back onto my feet. Life does that… All the while remembering that I really wanted to read Alder’s book. He’s a great writer and I wanted to know his “story.”

In January 2012. Alder began a collaboration between food photographer Leigh Beisch and art director and stylist Sara Slavin. The combined thing was to focus on and celebrate some of the singular flavors and aromas found in wine. It has become a perfect trinity of talent, from what began as a popular focus on Alder’s Vinography blog. It’s now an amazing body of work.

Right away, while reading his introduction, he piqued my curiosity…

Alder Yarrow: Wine’s ability to transmute simple sugars into the complexities that give us such pleasure represents the closest thing to alchemy I know. I can still recall the first time I smelled chocolate in my glass, or when I learned about and then tasted garrigue, the herbal underbrush of Provence that scents many a bottle of the region’s wine.

Not having tasted wines from Provence, but knowing that this is where I’d like to visit in France, I’m invested. What is garrique? I remember the day that my exchange student from Paris brought with her and gave to me Herbs de Provence. Ah…

Back into Alder’s book I went

Alder writes as a great educator, leading his readers down a path to wine enlightenment. The accompanying photography by Leigh Beisch is wonderfully vivid. As a parallel, Alder’s words are just as rapturous.  I dare you to not get emotionally involve in his book. Let’s take an example:


Few flavors speak so fully of summer as the delightfully juicy sweetness of peaches. Long prized for their sensuous skin and delicate flavors, and revered for the vitality shown by blossoms that emerge before the tree has leaves, the fruit was the natural food of Chinese deities for millennia, each bite guaranteeing the gods their continued immortality. Carried back along the Silk Road, peaches later flourished in Persia, where enterprising princes likely first bred the fuzz right off their backs. Peaches, nectarines and apricots, with flavors ranging from delicate rose petal to tangy, almost citrus sweetness, can be evoked by some of the world’s most compelling wines.

Alder also delivers history in a way that’s fun… not dry, even if the wine is.

Passion fruit

The fruit takes its name from the vine on which it grows. But no matter how sensual the fruit or however beautiful its blossoms, the missionaries who named the vine had something else entirely in mind. The complicated flower’s anatomy conveniently facilitated mnemonics for the Passion of Christ—10 petals for faithful apostles (sorry Peter and Judas), three stigmas for three nails on the cross, five anthers for five wounds before death, and a halo of radial filaments to represent the crown of thorns.

No more quoting here. You’ve been enticed enough and now you need to get your own copy. This book deserves to be in any serious wine library, along side the best authors of wine. Adler has done a magnificent job with his book The Essence of Wine. Alder Yarrow has perfectly captured the spirit of wine, for both your wine education and your enjoyment.

He’ll take you though a garden’s essence, to share the flavors that are also associated with wine; from herbs to spices, to vegetables and  honey… to dried meats and chocolate… No flavors seems to have escaped his palate, including flaws in wine.

It’s a must read; I cherish Alder Yarrow’s words, and I’m betting that you will, too. It’s a extremely exceptional body of work.

To purchase The Essence of Wine, visit this link on Vinography.