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Cookbook Shelf: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere

The world is big but can feel considerably smaller when the subject turns to wine.  While California has made significant inroads, focus rarely shifts from France, Italy, and Spain.  Nevertheless, wine lovers have been buying, drinking, and enjoying the delicious wines produced in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America for years.  And Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, better known as the World Wine Guys and the entertaining and lifestyle editors at Wine Enthusiast magazine, haven’t just been reading about it.  In their latest book, Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide, with foreword by Michel Rolland, they barrel ahead into unchartered territory.

“The maximum page count in any big wine book was 8% focused on all the countries of the Southern Hemisphere," says Desimone. "We wrote a book that is almost 600 pages and 100% devoted to the Southern Hemisphere.”

Comprehensive and entertaining, the book is organized by the hemisphere’s top wine producers - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and Uruguay.  Each section begins with a brief historical overview of the country’s winemaking industry, followed by in depth descriptions of local grape varieties, and notable wineries attracting well-deserved attention and driving exports. Bringing their subjects into ever sharper focus, they include a sampling of recipes and pairings enjoyed with winemakers and experts during their extensive research. 

“Who doesn’t love food, wine, and travel?" explains Jenssen. "It’s the holy trinity as far as I’m concerned."

More than a simple reference guide, Wines of the Southern Hemisphere delves deep into how this Old World tradition has taken root and thrived in the (not so) new one.  In the Nequén valley of Patagonia, the Schroeder Family names its Sauras Select Pinot Noir for the millions years old Titanosaur discovered on the winery’s property.  Pre-Colombian Incan irrigation canals facilitate Spanish agriculture in the high-altitudes of Mendoza.  At first mistaken for Merlot, the Carmenere grape makes its way to South America in the mid-1800s, escaping possible extinction in its native Bordeaux and finding new life as Chile’s signature grape.  Meanwhile, German Lutherans fleeing religious persecution establish a vibrant wine making culture in the Barossa Valley of Southern Australia, still going strong five generations later. 

Readers are reminded throughout that this is a developing story in a burgeoning industry that is constantly redrawing the map.  With many heady images and evocative descriptions, Wines of the Southern Hemisphere will make you feel like you’ve had a few even before taking your first sip.

To wet your palate, Desimone and Jensen have shared a recipe from their book, paired pairfectly with a Malbec.

Zuccardi's Argentine Empanadas

For the Dough

  • 2 1/4 pounds all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons) butter
  • 3 ounces lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2–4 tablespoons cold water
  • Cornstarch, as needed
  • 2 egg yolks, whisked, for brushing

For the Filling

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large onions, diced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 6 eggs, hardboiled and chopped

Get the full recipe.

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