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Karen MacNeil and Texas Wines

Wine expert Karen MacNeil

My favorite wine expert, Karen MacNeil, passed through Houston not long ago, and I was honored to join her for lunch. MacNeil’s 910-page paperback,

The Wine Bible

($20 Workman, 2001), is the only reference book on wine that I keep on my desk. As the name suggests, it’s a comprehensive guide to famous wineries and wine styles, regions and varietals, with a healthy dose of trivia and humor thrown in.

MacNeil is especially knowledgeable on the subject of Texas wines, and she told me she had tried some very interesting ones lately. Texas has long been a wine region in search of signature varietals. Some Texas wine mavens think that Viognier and Sangiovese might be the grapes we’ve been looking for, and MacNeil admits to being impressed by the few she’s tasted.

Wine, Food & Friends is MacNeil’s latest book ($25, Oxmoor House, 2006). It’s a jargon-free offering about pairing food and wines that’s aimed at non-geeks. The book includes 100 recipes from Cooking Light Magazine, with recommendations of how to pair the dishes with easily available, inexpensive wines.

You seldom meet a wine writer who can mesmerize the cork dorks with arcane wine knowledge and also explain the principles of wine and food pairing to non-majors in plain English. But then again, it’s also rare to meet a wine writer as delightfully down-to-earth as Karen MacNeil. -- Robb Walsh

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