Thousands of wines at your fingertips

Search database of wine reviews
Read about wines BEFORE they hit the stores
Match wines with foods



A gift for the literate wine-lover in your life – who may be you. Tony's murder mystery novels, set in the world of wine, are now available at a discount – autographed.

Find out more...

Listen to Tony

Listen to Tony talk about wine on 680 NEWS radio on Fridays at 10:48 am, on Saturdays at 2:48 am and 9:48 am, and on Sundays at 12:48 am and 1:48 pm.
Tony Aspler
Wine Reviews
Food & Wine Match
Personal Wine Cellar
Pocket Wine Cellar
Gourmet Recipes
Wine Primer
More Tony Aspler
Tony's Books Tony's Books
Ontario Wine Awards
About Us About Us

E-mail Address or
Forget Password?


All about sparkling wine Port wine 101 Pairing food and wine Pairing wine and cheese What wine to serve with chocolate Why we like to visit wine country A wine tour of Italy Germany and German wines Wine touring France: Cognac and Bordeaux Wine touring France: Burgundy A tour of California wine country











More Tony's Blog  

Holiday Gifts for Wine Lovers (November 18, 2004)

by Dean Tudor

It gets harder each year to match up the recipient with the gift – there are so many new and newish items out there! But I have cast the web and I have come up with a decent selection to satisfy any pocketbook and any friend.

I begin with an assortment of new toys and gadgets. One new item is the Wine Prism, a glass straw with a hole in the side. You suck in wine, and the hole helps to aerate it. Not for everyday drinking, but for tasting the first, finest moments of a quality wine. I have tried it, and it works. It even makes cheap wine taste good on the initial palate. It comes in a carrying case, so you can take it to wine tastings. Worth a try, at US$20 or so, through or 1-800-322-8878. Another gadget is the Breville Wine Chiller. It chills a room-temperature bottle of wine in about 5 minutes, without ice, making it ideal for spontaneous/impromptu gatherings. There is a coolant (which must be pre-frozen), a timer, and an insulated carry bag. An Australian product, about $70 in Canada (

Software this year has gone big and small. First the small. Tony Aspler has a wine program and tasting notes for the PDA, his Pocket Wine Cellar, which comes with membership in There is also "Parker in Your Palm," a Robert Parker software for the PDA. The stand-alone version (US$49.95) includes a database of 5,000 affordable wines from recent vintages. The version for subscribers is $29.95, and allows downloading of as many wines as can be stored on the available memory of your PDA. You can do a text search, a specified criteria search, or a vintage chart search.

Now the big. There are online versions of cellar software, developing high-tech ways for collectors to manage their bottles. The on-line inventory, which you can look at from any computer with Internet access, gives you the chance to monitor the size, the value, the purchases, the drinkability dates, and even wine futures. Vinfolio is a company that helps customers create an inventory in their own home or at the company's warehouse. Through the company, you can photograph each bottle, enter it into a web database, and label it with a bar code. Changes are easy: after consuming or purchasing, just wave a wand over the label. Unfortunately, it only works in the US. Other countries have a send in a spreadsheet of their collection to be imported into the VinCellar software that is used. Vintrust is another firm. CellarTracker, though, is free for use. However, you have to manually input your data and changes. About 1500 collectors use CellarTracker, with over 300,000 bottles in the collective databases. There is also a chat room for discussions about wine. collecting, vintages, TNs, etc.

In between, of course, there are the software programs that run on your own PC. They all seem to come out of Australia or New Zealand – must be something about being antipodean. The latest is The Uncorked Cellar, from Australia. In addition to the usual database setup, it also has updates three times a year, with new material about wines and software upgrades. You can, of course, arrange and sort, and search for wines. It has a fairly complete guide to wines as well. You can see and print graphs, do advanced searches, lists of wines by year, peak periods of maturation, printable tags for the cellar, etc. There is a free evaluation copy for sixty days. The Full Mode will then cost you $99 Australian. There are less expensive versions of Uncorked Cellar, but they do not have the full functionality. Contact for more details.

Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's gift list: something affordable ($10–30) that can also double as a host gift, something small and lightweight. In the past few years, card sets have developed. Silverback, through Whitecap, has a series of "Smarts" games. There are FOODSMARTS (Whitecap, 2004, ISBN 0-9721876-2-6, $29.95) and WINESMARTS (Whitecap, 2004, ISBN 0-9721876-0-X, $29.95), which are boxed sets of 100 question-and-answer cards, divided into four categories: ingredients or grapes, vocabulary, regions or cuisines, and wild cards. Each has a 12-page tip guide plus a score sheet. Lots of fun for over the holidays. THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE DECK (Chronicle Books, 2004; distr. Raincoast, ISBN 0-8118-4344-0, $20.95) presents 60 recipe cards for traditional favourites (gingerbread, Lebkuchen, Norwegian lace cookies, brownie cookies) and some contemporary ones too. Perfect for that cookie exchange you've always wanted to start. Also from Chronicle Books is THE BUBBLY DECK (ISBN 0-8118-4296-7, $20.95), a 50-card set detailing the history, the vocabulary, the food pairing, the toasts, plus 40 recipes for such as Kir Royale and Champagne Sunsets and the classic sugar cube Champagne Cocktail. PARTY DRINKS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2004; distr. Thomas Allen, ISBN 1-84172-771-7, $19.95) goes with PARTY FOOD (ISBN 1-84172-770-9, $19.95). Both are collections of 40 laminated cards with colour photos. Party Drinks includes recipes for margaritas, coolers, champagne cocktails, martinis, while Party Foods has mini wraps, spiced nuts, potato skins, and sweets too.

Other non-book stuffers include themed mini notebooks from Ryland Peters & Small, distributed by Thomas Allen, specifically, CELLAR NOTES (ISBN 1-84172-749-0, $9.95) and RECIPE NOTES (ISBN 1-84172-747-4, $9.95). Each book has 96 lined pages, a wire-o-binding, and an elastic closure band. The wine book has space for white wine, red wine, sparklers. The food book has soups and salads, eggs and cheese, pasta and rice, fish and meat, sweets and party food. Both books are meant for those people who need organizing. WINENOTES (Silverback, 2004; distr. Whitecap, ISBN 0-9721876-1-8, $19.95) has 150 pages for notes (two wines to a page), plus tips on decoding wine labels, grape varieties, and even regional maps. Portable, of course, for that wine tour of Okanagan or Finger Lakes or Niagara, Napa, Sonoma, Willamette, etc. One drawback: the book has no space for rosé, so do not taste any of them.

Calendars are monster hits, both wall and desk. The best of the desk are the two "page-a-day" calendars from Workman (distr. Thomas Allen). THE WINE LOVER'S CALENDAR 2005 (ISBN 0-7611-3174-4, $14.95) has been put together by Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible. There is a new varietal highlighted each month, tips galore for pouring and tasting, food and wine matching, etc. etc. 137 "must try" wines are highlighted. 365 BOTTLES OF BEER FOR THE YEAR 2005 (ISBN 0-7611-3349-6, $14.95) is by Bob Klein, author of The Beer Lover's Rating Guide. Most of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews here. Other material here includes beer festivals, beer facts, label lore and vocabulary. If you buy and of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other stuff, usually free (

There is a category of foodbooks called "little cookbooks"; these are usually placed at POS (point-of-sales) spots. I have located a very good collection, mainly from Celestial Arts and distributed by Ten Speed Press. Most of these books have no index, which is regrettable. There is VERY PESTO (ISBN 1-58761-208-9, $8.95 paper), with 30 recipes (17 for herb pestos) for pasta, appetizers, salads, and sides and pizza. It was originally available in 1985. VERY SALAD DRESSING (ISBN 1-58761-209-7, $8.95 paper) has 50 recipes, involving oil and vinegar dressings, creamy salad dressings, dressings with fruits and vegetables and marinades. It was first published in 1997. THE ASPARAGUS FESTIVAL COOKBOOK (ISBN 1-58761-174-0, $8.95 paper) was first published in 1986; it has the winning recipes from the Stockton California Asparagus Festival, a three-day event drawing 100,000 eaters. There are about 50 recipes here, including desserts.

Some small, nifty pocket reference guides can be useful for furtive browsing to show off your expertise. There is DIM SUM (Chronicle Books, 2004; distr. Raincoast, ISBN 0-8118-4178-2, $10.95 paper), which is a pictorial guide to all the main dishes (shrimp dumplings, etc.) plus chopstick usage and etiquette. Categories include steamed, deep fried, pan fried, congee, and desserts. All in 80 pages. HarperCollins has a Gems series. There is COLLINS GEM WHISKY (HarperCollins, 2004, 239 pages, ISBN 0-00-714411-3, $11.95 paper covers) by Carol P. Shaw. It was first published in 1993; this is the latest edition with updates to single malts and their marketing. 150 Scotches are covered. There are details of age, strength, and taste rating, with lots of small but useful photos. There is even a history and description of miniatures, plus website data. COLLINS GEM HERBS AND SPICES (HarperCollins, 2004, 240 pages, ISBN 0-00-712197-0, $11.95 paper covers) covers 90 herbs and spices, with usage in cooking and medicine. Material includes home cultivation and subsequent storage. Like the Scotch book, the arrangement is alphabetical from "alecost" to "yarrow," each with a colour photograph.

There is a sub-category of stocking stuffers that is really appreciated by wine and food lovers: the ANNUAL. Most of these books are pocket guides, at least the wine ones are. The food books are regular-sized. There is THE BEST AMERICAN RECIPES 2004/2005: the year's top picks from books, magazines, newspapers and the Internet (Thomas Allen, 2004, ISBN 061845506X, 300 pages, $37.95) is out for the sixth time. All recipes (for all courses) are sourced, such as New York Times, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Saveur, email lists, cookbooks (Flay, Bertolli, Bayless, Trotter, Lawson) – even flyers. All are retested in the publisher's test kitchens, and comments are added about any difficulties or how to fix things. Trends noted include the use of silicone tools in the kitchen, the return of pecorino Romano, grinding your own spices, and the resurgence of Scandinavian foods. BEST OF THE BEST; the best recipes from the 25 best cookbooks of the year (American Express, 2004; distr. Canadian Manda Group, ISBN 1-932624-00-7, 287 pages, $44.95) is similarly shaped. More than 100 recipes, about four from each book, all re-tested. Cookbooks include "From Emeril's Kitchen", Nigella Lawson's "Forever Summer", Bouley's "East of Paris", Wolfert's "The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen". This is its seventh year of production.

On to the wine annuals. The leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2005 (Mitchell Beazley, 2004; distr. McArthur, ISBN 1-84000-895-4, 288 pages, $19.95) and OZ CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2005 (Harcourt Books, 2004; distr. Raincoast, 320 pages, $20). Both are guides to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. Similarities: Johnson claims 6000 wines are listed, while Clarke says 7000. News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are in both books. The major differences: Johnson has been at it longer and has more respect for his exactitude and scholarliness. His book is arranged by region; Clarke's book is in dictionary, A–Z form. It is really six of one, half a dozen of another.

Almost annual is MICHAEL JACKSON'S COMPLETE GUIDE TO SINGLE MALT SCOTCH (Running Press, 2004; distr. HarperCollins, ISBN 0-7624-1313-1, 448 pages, $38.50), now in its fifth edition. The history and corporate sections have been revised and brought forward. There is a dictionary arrangement for the single malts, arranged by distillery. More than one thousand TNs are complemented by sharp photos of the distilleries. A mammoth undertaking at a value price. Also almost annual is the WINDOWS ON THE WORLD COMPLETE WINE COURSE: 2005 EDITION (Sterling Books, 2004, distr. by Canadian Manda, ISBN 1-4027-1733-4, $37.95), an absolute bargain, written and revised by Kevin Zraly. It was last published two years ago. Unfortunately, Windows of the World went down on 9/11, but it continues to live on through the new editions. This is one of the best of the introductory wine course books, with basic data supplemented by a generous selection of "questions and answers". There is a newer North American wine supplement with maps and AVAs explained. Full-colour labels and more maps complement the region-by-region vintage analyses.

Other wine annuals deal with recommended wines. They can afford the space for more, in depth TNs. THE WINE LIST 2005: the top 250 wines of the year (Headline Books, 2004, distr. McArthur, ISBN 0-7553-1250-3, 240 pages, $18.95 paper covers) is by Matthew Jukes, wine writer for the Daily Mail. His annual has been published since 2002. Although British in orientation, the 250 wines chosen as the best usually appear in Canada. Full TNs, along with advice on food matching with wines and a gazetteer of the best wine estates in the world. The six major categories are covered (red, white, rose, sparkling, sweet, fortified). You can match this annual with ANDREA IMMER'S 2005 WINE BUYING GUIDE FOR EVERYONE (Broadway Books, 2004, ISBN 0-7679-1545-3, 255 pages, $17.95), which is her third edition. She looks at 650 top wines as found in many US stores and regular restaurants. Her choices are also available in Canada from time to time (200 wines were changed this year from the 2004 edition). There are comments on each wine from both consumers and wine trade professionals, along with TNs and a pronunciation guide. There is a section on new trends: prices up, Two Buck Chuck, pinot grigio, Chilean reds, Tuscan reds, Shiraz peaking. FOOD & WINE MAGAZINE'S WINE GUIDE 2005 (American Express, 2004; distr. by Canadian Manda Group, ISBN 0-916103-98-6, 320 pages, $17.95) offers notes on 1400 wines from all over the globe; there are plenty of European wines here. Sections cover the elements of tasting, a Wine Value Finder (a listing of 50 rated wines that offer the best value for the price: thankfully, only one chardonnay is listed). Glossaries, guides, tips, matches, best of lists – it goes on and on. Again, many of the wines can be found in Canada.

Coffee-table books have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! In addition, do not let the prices daunt you. Most expensive books are available at a discount from Amazon.Ca or Indigo – with free delivery thrown in, above a certain price (usually $39). This year's alcohol parade is led by SCOTCH WHISKY: a liquid history (Cassell Illustrated, 2003; distr. by Canadian Manda Group, 288 pages, ISBN 1-84403-078-4, $59.95), authored by Charles MacLean, who has been a prolific writer on whisky for over 20 years. Most recently, he has been Editor at Large of Whisky Magazine. The oversized book has historical photos, corporate histories, the development of the drink, some data on temperance movements and modern day operations. The style is largely anecdotal in a posh presentation. From the wine side, there are three definite winners. One is BURGUNDY AND ITS WINES (Raincoast, 2004, 144 pages, ISBN 1-55192-665-2, $39.95), by Nicholas Faith with Andy Katz photos. It is in the same series as Bordeaux and Its Wines (Joseph) and Tuscany and Its Wines (Johnson). Material covers the culture, history, landscapes, peoples, foods and wines. It is meant for the traveler (armchair or otherwise), but attempts to cover "thousands of stubbornly individualistic wine-makers". The second is WINES OF SOUTH AMERICA (Mitchell Beazley, 2003; distr. by McArthur, 192 pages, ISBN 1-84000-609-9, $60), by Monty Waldin, who has worked around the world for a range of wine producers in Bordeaux, Chile, California and Germany. He is also a free-lance writer, winning a major prize for his "Organic Wine Guide" in 1999. The gorgeous pictures are by Jason Lowe. There are lots of interviews and quotes from sources. Chile gets 80 pages, Argentina has 60 pages, even Uruguay gets 26. Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela have a handful. Key facts, maps, notes on producers, but no TNs. The third is NAPA VALLEY (Chronicle Books, 2004; distr. Raincoast, ISBN 0-8118-4088, 120 pages, $27.95 paper covers), now in its fourth edition (first published in 1993). The glossy book has great photos from Richard Gillette, and states which wineries have the best architecture, panorama view, art works on view, gardens, picnic sites. There are sections on local history and winemaking, winery tours, best times to come to Napa, directory data. Twenty-eight major wineries are covered. The fourth is an omnium gatherum of wine history: THE STORY OF WINE: new illustrated edition (Mitchell Beazley, 2004; distr. McArthur, ISBN 1-84000-972-1, 256 pages, $50) by the prolific Hugh Johnson. It was originally issued in 1989 to accompany his TV series of the time. Now it has been revised, condensed, and updated through the past fifteen years to take into account the dramatic upsurge of the New World, previously almost ignored in his series. A fabulous presentation of words and illustrations (almost all historical), marred somewhat by the non-inclusion of icewine. The first edition was the winner of EIGHT major book awards!

The food parade of coffee-table books is gastroporn at its excessive best. I have reviewed many expensive books in my monthly column, and all of those books had extensive recipes. Here, I will just cover the more juicy ones, the one with few recipes. First up is PIERRE GAGNAIRE: reflections on culinary artistry (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2003; distr. by Canadian Manda Group, 240 pages, ISBN 1-58479-316-3, $75), by the eponymous Michelin three-starred chef. He opened his first restaurant in 1980 in France. He also owns Sketch in London. There are no recipes in this book,just mouth-drooling photos of his creations, photographed between January and November 2000. This is great photography (by Jean Louis Bloch Linee) of finished preps, plus zooms and close-ups. There are 170 dishes here, in full colour. Gagnaire became famous for his architectural nature, both horizontal and vertical. And you can plainly see that in the photos. FOOD AND TRAVELS ASIA (Mitchell Beazley, 2004; distr. McArthur, ISBN 1-84000-907-1, 240 pages, $50) is by Alastair Hendry, a renowned food writer and photographer who has won multiple awards. Here he travels to Burma, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, and Bali. These are stories of home-cooking, with photographed people, places, and things, not to mention some recipes. An interesting travelogue. BRINGING TUSCANY HOME: sensuous style from the heart of Italy (Broadway Books, 2004; distr. by Random House, 228 pages, ISBN 0-7679-1746-4, $42) is by Frances Mayes, successful author of Under the Tuscan Sun and other books dealing with Tuscany. This one appears to be the next logical development, and is being heavily promoted for this season. It is mainly about home decorating with a side on cooking-eating-drinking: how to choose a Tuscan colour palette and personalize a room, how to cultivate a Tuscan garden, how to set a Tuscan table, what is in the Tuscan kitchen and larder (olive oil, limoncello, panini, pesto), and Tuscan wines (too brief). Great photos of Tuscan Villa lifestyle, but only 25 recipes. There are resource lists for shoppers and travelers on where to find Tuscan goodies.

At the other end of the coffee table books is FOOD: a culinary history from antiquity to the present (Penguin Books, 2004, ISBN 0-14-029658-1, 592 pages, $37.50 paper covers). It was first published in Rome in 1996, then in English by Columbia University Press, and is now available as a Penguin paperback. J.L. Flandrini and M. Montanari did the editorial work. It deals with many origins, with a mostly European perspective on food history. There are reproductions of art works, but all are in black and white only. They editors try to address the question: "why are the same foods prepared differently in different countries?" Economic and demographic factors play a hand. They contend also that the roots of modern culinary history lie deep within France. That may be so, but the symbolic aspects of eating still need to convince me. Nevertheless, an affordable posh-looking book that makes you think.

For the more literate person, there are, of course, NOVELS on a wine theme. Leading this year's crush is Peter Mayle's A GOOD YEAR (Knopf, 2004, 287 pages, ISBN 0-375-40591-7, $34), which stars Max Skinner as a fish-out-of-water vineyard owner in Provence (his late uncle left it to him). There are lots of comely wenches, food and wine in this book of great fun. Mayles is the author of A YEAR IN PROVENCE. This is his ninth book and fifth novel.

And let's not forget Canada's leading wine novelist, Tony Aspler. It's murder in the wine business, he says punningly. He is the creator of three vintage mystery novels in which Ezra Brant (an internationally known wine writer) solves an intriguing series of murders in three of the world's most renowned wine regions. Along the way, Brant tastes his way through the fascinating inner sanctum of the wine world, from exclusive award ceremonies to centuries-old and suspenseful wine cellar. So follow Tony Aspler's fictional wine writer-detective in BLOOD IS THICKER THAN BEAUJOLAIS, THE BEAST OF BARBARESCO, and DEATH ON THE DOURO. An ideal Christmas gift for the wine lover/mystery buff in your life. All copies are autographed. One title: $12 + $6 postage/handling + GST. Set of three: $30 + $8 postage/handling + GST. To order, just stop by the order page.

Related to novels are the "memoirs" of writers, chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction," suffering from embellishments and gilding. And also suffering from a lack of indexing. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from last year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. SHAKEN AND STIRRED: through the martini glass and other drinking adventures (HarperCollins, 2004, ISBN 0-06-074044-2, 192 pages, $25.50) is by William L. Hamilton. This is a guide to the after-five lifestyle in New York. Hamilton writes the bi-weekly "Shaken and Stirred" column for the New York Times "Style" section, and this is a collection of his essays: 40 columns expanded, along with 25 unpublished efforts. Go on a pub crawl to the various lounges and bars in NYC. Or stay home and make drinks from his 60-plus recipes. THE ART OF EATING (John Wiley, 2004, ISBN 0-7645-4261- 3, 784 pages, $31.99 paper) is by M.F.K. Fisher. This is the classic collection, first published in 1954 as a gathering of five of her food books: Serve It Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronome and Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets. It has now been reissued as a "50th Anniversary Edition" in an affordable paperback, with various appreciations written by people most affected by her (Julia Child, Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, James Villas). FORK IT OVER: the intrepid adventures of a professional eater (HarperCollins, 2004, ISBN 0-06- 058629-X, 324 pages, $34.95) is by Alan Richman, an 11-time James Beard award winner. The majority had appeared in GQ and Food & Wine magazines. Here are restaurant reviews and anecdotes from around the world. Some of his wittiest stuff was his article on wine expectoration (wine spitting) and drinking wines with US wine collectors in restaurants in France. Well worth a read.

On the road again we go with TASTING PLEASURE: confessions of a wine lover (Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-027001-9, 342 pages, $22.99 paper covers), which is Jancis Robinson's memoirs: who she meets, where she goes, how she got started, and even some tasting notes. She's the editor of Oxford Companion to Wine and has been slowly assuming responsibility for Hugh Johnson's wine book properties. IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE? (Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-029290-X, 322 pages, $20.99) is by Elizabeth David, a sequel to An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. Both books were published posthumously. Both are anthologies, a selection of her published writings, as well as material from her files, letters and notes, never before published, from the 1950s through to 1980s. Plus 150 recipes of every sort (all indexed, of course). LOVE AND SWEET FOOD: a culinary memoir (Thomas Allen, 2004, ISBN 0-88762-153-8, $24.95) comes from the pen of Austin Clarke, a Giller Prize-winning author who has detailed his basic Barbados roots. These are the food memories and recipes from his childhood, concentrating on chicken, rice, okra, salt, and beef (when available). Here you will find smoked ham hocks with lima beans, pigtails and rice, kingfish and white rice, split-pea soup, pepper pot pelau, oxtails with mushrooms and rice. The recipes are in a separate section, and unfortunately, there is no index to the recipes nor to the memoirs. A THOUSAND DAYS IN TUSCANY: a bittersweet adventure (Workman, 2004; distr. Thomas Allen, ISBN 1-56512-392, $35.95) is by Marlena de Blasi, who also wrote A Thousand Days in Venice. She (an American chef and journalist) and her Italian husband are now repairing an old stable to live in. There is no phone, no central heating, no real kitchen. Gee, life is tough. De Blasi goes down the fish-out-of-water path, describing her life with the locals, the food, and the wines. She combs the outdoor markets, harvests grapes, goes to an olive mill, and the like. There are a few recipes scattered through the book. GREEK SALAD: a Dionysian travelogue (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2004, 279 pages, $14.95US) is by Miles Lambert-Gocs, a wine writer (he produced "The Wines of Greece" for Faber and Faber). He covers – in 26 humourous essays – three regions: the Aegean Islands and Crete, the Mainland, and the Ionian Islands and Corfu. Just about everything happens in the tavernas. The backdrop is local food and wine, plus the usual assortment of local characters. There are even some regional maps, so that you can know where you are.

Other related but non-vinous books include the remarkably efficient RECIPE FILE (Ryland Peters and Small, 2004; distr. Thomas Allen, 144 pages, ISBN 1-84172-762-8, $29.95), which was originally published in 2001 as My Cooking Journal but has not been revamped. It's a place to keep all the scraps of recipe cards, notes, lists, addresses, clippings, ideas, in one place. It is organized on themes, so it becomes an elegant cookery book, journal, notepad, and directory. There are lined sheets for your own notes. There are also a few dozen classic recipes already in the book. Physically, the book has folders, concealed wire bindings, and an elastic banded closure to keep it all tidy.

Napkin folding has apparently gone "big business." I've reviewed at least three guidebooks over the past two years, and there are two more issued this year. THE ART OF NAPKIN FOLDING (Laurel Glen, 2004; distr. by Raincoast, 64 pages, ISBN 1-59223-192-6, $21.95) is unique in that, in addition to the illustrated book, there is a practice napkin. The book is origami based (the author Gay Merrill Gross is an expert). The designs are arranged in order of difficulty, and there are also unique table settings. Gross also claims copyright for seven of the 35 designs. The other is STYLISH NAPKINS (New Holland, 2003; distr. Canadian Manda, 64 pages, ISBN 1-84330-541-0, $22.95) which promises that the 20 napkin forms can be done in five minutes each. It too seems to be origami-based, and the book was originally published in 1998. the price difference can be put up to the use of more colour in the New Holland book.

More next year... Have a Merry and a Happy... Dean Tudor




More Tony's Blog