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General plot: Bruno Tannenbaum--a Chicago food journalist--was once a crack reporter and successful book author; however, it's been years since he's felt the spark and confidence to write well. It doesn't help that he drinks a little bit more than he should and that he just can't seem to stick to budget, especially when it comes to food.
After he's been fired from his newspaper job, his friend Aleksei offers Bruno a job cataloging a wine cellar that has recently come into his possession. Bruno knows better than to ask Aleksei how he acquired the wine and happily takes on the task.
But checking out the wine is far from simple. After a series of zany and unfortunate events, Bruno finds himself on the search for a rare bottle of French wine made during the Nazi occupation. With a Russian soldier after him and a competitive reporter racing him, Bruno sets off for Europe with little more than hope and a prayer.
In the end, Bruno discovers much more than what he was looking for.
Thoughts: Vintage is a like a madcap adventure in which Bruno, a techno dinosaur, gets in to more trouble than seems possible. Fortunately, he's a charming man and makes friends easily, so he also gets out of trouble, despite a few bumps on the head. Although I liked Bruno and the story was entertaining, the best parts of the novel were the descriptions of food, cooking, and wine.
Here Bruno's telling someone how to make elk tenderloin:
Stud with garlic spears. Brush with olive oil. Good stuff. Extra, extra. Roll in fresh-cracked black pepper, not too sharp, a bit crunchy You want it seared on the outside but real pink in the middle. You're going for contrast here. Grill it. Soon as the juice is clear, you're done. Got that?Bruno goes on to suggest serving it with grilled asparagus and wild rice and a good-quality Pommard Premier Cru or Oregon Pinot. Yummm.
Recommendation: David Baker's novel may not be the most literary you've read all year, but if you like wine, food, and a crazy adventure, then give Vintage a try. Start reading on a lazy weekend afternoon--accompanied by a glass of wine, of course--and you'll be finished just in time to cook up a lovely Bruno-inspired dinner.
Published by Touchstone, September 2015
Source: Review (see review policy)
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