Passion on the Vine
A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy
By Sergio Esposito
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780767926089, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 19, 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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As a young child in Naples, Italy, Sergio Esposito sat at his kitchen table observing the daily ritual of his large, loud family bonding over fresh local dishes and simple country wines. While devouring the rich bufala mozzarella, still sopping with milk and salt, and the platters of fresh prosciutto, sliced so thin he could see through it, he absorbed the profound relationship of food, wine, and family in Italian culture.
Growing up in Albany, New York, after emigrating there with his family, he always sat next to his uncle Aldo and sipped from his wineglass during their customary hours-long extended family feasts. Thus, from a very early age, Esposito came to associate wine with the warmth of family, the tastes of his mother’s cooking—and, above all, memories of his former life in Italy. When he was in his twenties, he headed for New York and undertook a career in wine, beginning a journey that would culminate in his founding of Italian Wine Merchants, now the leading Italian wine source in America. His career offered him the opportunity to make frequent trips back to Italy to find wine for his clients, to learn the traditions of Italian winemaking, and, in so doing, to rediscover the Italian way of life he’d left behind.
Passion on the Vine is Esposito’s intimate and evocative memoir of his colorful family life in Italy, his abrupt transition to life in America, and of his travels into the heart of Italy—its wine country—and the lives of those who inhabit it. The result is a remarkably engaging and entertaining wine/travel narrative replete with vivid portraits of seductive places—the world-famous cellars of Piedmont, the sweeping estates of Tuscany, the lush fields of Campania, the chilly hills of Friuli, the windy beaches of Le Marche; and of memorable people, diverse and vibrant wine artisans—from a disco-dancing vintner who bases his farming on the rhythm of the moon to an obsessive prince who destroys his vineyards before his death so that his grapes will never be used incorrectly.
Esposito’s luscious accounts of the wonderful food and wine that are so much a part of Italian life, and his poignant and often hilarious stories of his relationships with his family and Italian friends, make Passion on the Vine an utterly unique and enchanting work about Italy and its eternally seductive lifestyle.
SERGIO ESPOSITO is the owner of Italian Wine Merchants in New York City. He speaks at and hosts wine dinners throughout the country, has a much-visited Web site, and writes a popular e-mail newsletter about his discoveries and travels in Italy. He lives with his wife and two children in New York City.
- Discuss the title, Passion on the Vine. What does it take to develop a passion for a life's work, or for an indulgence? What sparked Esposito's passion for wine?
“An unabashed love letter to Italian wine and food . . . a memoir of all the ways that food and wine bind us together, in lives full of emotion.”
“It is hard to read a page without developing pangs of hunger and thirst.”
—Los Angeles Times