The Wine Region of Rioja

Food for Thought: Summer Reading

The Wine Region of Rioja

by Ana Fabiano (Sterling Epicure, $35, 256 pp)

This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand Spain's most famous wine region. Ms. Fabiano rightly considers the cultural, religious, and historical implications of life in Rioja as well as its agriculture and weather. Not only does she provide an annotated list of her favorite bodegas, but she offers spot-on food pairing advice. Her knowledge of the place is encyclopedic. She even devotes five pages to the cult treasure Bode­gas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, my particular favorite winery in the area. After spending two decades leading journalists and wine doyens on guided tours through Rioja, Ms. Fabiano has learned most of Rioja's best secrets, and she reveals them all in this book.

Fabiano generates enough travel envy that you might struggle over whether you want to invest in a bottle of Bodegas Fernando Remir­ez de Ganuza Gran Reserva (about $300), or jump on a plane and head for Logroño (about $700), Rioja's capital. The bottle will be a transformative experience, but in Logroño you can hit the tapas district and go to places like Juan y Juan and dive into a plate of Chuletillas de Cordero (lamb chops) and have a 2 euro glass of house red wine. You'll have to answer for yourself on which side of that equation you fall (the latter for me), but the nice thing about Ms. Fabiano's book is she excites both crowds.

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