UK - Wine's answer to Nigella Lawson

Victoria Moore tells us How to Drink

By Louise Johnson
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How to Drink by Victoria Moore

How to Drink by Victoria Moore [©Allen & Unwin]

 Appetite is not just about food, says Victoria Moore in her new book How to Drink, but somehow in the past few decades the solid part of a meal has captured more than its share of attention.

Drinks are so often neglected. “I’ve lost count of the number of intricate, slaved-over dinners featuring organic rare breeds from the farmer’s market to which I’ve sat down when the first thing to pass my lips has been a virtually flat gin and tonic with no ice, or a glass of lukewarm white wine that no one has noticed is also corked.”

My personal tragedy is being offered a red or white wine option at a dinner party with no thought of season, the food to come, or any sense of occasion. To incorporate what you drink into a menu is a real treat – let the buffoons swill their branded beers while the rest of us enjoy a considered culinary journey.

Nigella Lawson taught us How to Eat and now Victoria Moore is teaching us How to Drink. These British girls sure have their finger on the pulse of decadence and flavour. Like Nigella, Victoria revels in occasion and in making every liquid morsel somethign special. “A passing moment can be burnished to become an event that fixes in your mind [such as] the jug of home-made lemonade shared outside on a rare warm afternoon.”

How to Drink is organised by season – spring, summer, autumn and winter, plus the basics and essential show-stoppers and a chapter dedicated to breakfast and brunch. But it’s not simply a boozy recipe book; it’s a really interesting read too and well worth mixing a jug of something delicious and settling in for an afternoon.

For example, did you know that hot water freezes faster than cold? The phenomena was first observed in ancient Greece but to this day, and following much debate in the pages of New Scientist magazine, physicists are unable to explain it. A good tip for icy emergencies.

There’s a very good section on wine basics which discusses recognising wine faults, choosing wine to go with your food, wine storage and glass shape. Victoria takes a light-hearted approach to wine and food matching, which she says has ”a reputation as being a prissy pastime on a par with making matchstick sculptures”. 

The easiest option is to choose a wine from the same area as the food you are eating: “in places where the gastronomic culture has had time to simmer slowly, the wines and food have developed in tandem to please the same palates at the same tables”.  You can already see this dance taking shape in Australia and New Zealand.

Wine features in every chapter with ice cold shots of sauvignon blanc served with crab as a spring entree, warming whites and chilling reds in summer, glamorous wine and food for the dark days of winter and a return to the joys of a good sherry, in all its guises including Grandma Moore’s trifle, in autumn.

It’s a simple book and while it contains many recipes, it’s not in the style of a sticky cocktail book that will leave you with a cupboard of half bottles of obscure liquor and a sore head. Instead it describes a way of enhancing even the most common occasions, such as your morning cup of tea, and giving them the same sense of occasion that you do your solid meals. 

If you’re planning a dinner party How to Drink is as essential as the customary pile of cookbooks.


How to Drink by Victoria Moore is published by Granta Books (2009; hb) RRP $39.99. Subscribers and Members of and Winepros Archive can purchase How to Drink from our book partners Seekbooks at 12.5% discount off RRP (postage extra).

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September 21st, 2009
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