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Champagne and Sparkling Wine and Erotic Foods  (January 27, 2005)

book review
by Dean Tudor

Champagne and Sparkling Wine (iUniverse, 2004, 98 pages, ISBN 0-595-32702-8, US$11.95 paper covers) and Erotic Foods (iUniverse, 2004, 74 pages, ISBN 0-595-32698-6, US$10.95 paper covers) are both "grape goddess guides to good living," being advice, tips, and anecdotes from Catherine Fallis, a Master Sommelier since 1997. She has worked for all sides of the hospitality industry.

The Champagne book is basic: terroirs, grape varieties, history, production methods for both MC and other sparkling wines. Stems (and shoes) are talked about, as well as bottle sizes. There are notes on how to taste and evaluate, with data on food pairing. Recommendations are given, mainly for US nationally distributed labels at full retail. She has quotes from other writers and famous people, as well as stories on how Champagne affected and interrelated with her life. There is even a quiz, and a second quiz which follows chapters on seductive entertaining and parties. A short bibliography concludes the work. Because this book grew out of two sets of weekly email notes, there is an episodic feel about it.

This feel continues with the Erotic Foods book, where she emphasizes anticipation and aphrodisiacs. Fallis has separate chapters for chocolate, almonds-figs-mango-dates-coconut, grapes-apple-kiwi, artichokes-eggplant-mushroom-garlic, truffles (the mushroom kind), hot spices, coffee and tea, oysters, caviar, cheese and honey. She tells you what to do with each to maximize your pleasure, and to set the mood. Typical potables include Champagne, sweet wines, and fortifieds. Again, she has scattered many quotations about the book. Fallis lists menus (all priced as to cost) with wines, followed by a quiz. There are a number of recipes with wine recommendations. Unfortunately for us, all the mail order sources are US. She concludes with details of various creams and scents, as well as a music list and a bibliography. Also, unfortunately, there are no indexes to the books, which limits their use to a reader's recall or skimming the contents pages. For more details about these and other similar books (there is one on Wine), Fallis can be contacted through www.planetgrape.com.

Audience and level of use: Beginners

Some interesting or unusual recipes: Mango bread, zabaglione, truffled risotto, shrimp and pernod

What I don't like about these books: Whenever there is a "technical" term to be discussed in the Champagne book, she issues a "wine geek alert." Also, somewhere between a fourth and a fifth of each book is devoted to her (repetitious) biography and how she personally feels about champagne and/or erotic food. Both could have been condensed a bit, giving more space for expansion of material. As it is, there is already a lot of white space.

What I do like about this book: Her saucy attitude

 

 

 

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