Book Review: Vintage by David Baker

To view a complete list of all the books I have reviewed on The Academic Wino, visit my Wine Book Library page and browse! NOTE: While many times I do receive a review copy of the book at no charge from the author or publisher, I DO NOT receive compensation for this review or from any sales of the book.

The book for review today is Vintage by David Baker (released September 22, 2015).

I have been in the mood for reading novels lately—I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s the change in the weather, or perhaps it’s my way of bringing in a little fantasy into my all-too-real life, but novels have been my preferred reading material lately. Lucky for me, a new book that was sent to me by Touchstone Publicity came just in time to satiate that desire!

Photo courtesy Simon & Schuster

Photo courtesy Simon & Schuster

Vintage is the debut novel by food writer and film director David Baker. Some of you might recognize his name from the documentary film American Wine Story, which I reviewed a little over a year ago now. Baker is now back with his very first novel, Vintage, which was in part inspired by true stories from World War II.

Vintage stars Bruno Tannenbaum, a washed-up food writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, who after years of overindulgence and fondness for women, finds himself divorced, jobless, and down to his last few pennies. Struggling to get his life back on track and to try and pull together some sort of a family unit, Bruno happens upon a secret bottle of wine stolen from France in World War II. Bruno becomes consumed with the 1943 Trevallier, and vows to find out where it is and will do anything and go anywhere it takes to get to the bottom of the story and write the book that will help him win back his family and his life.

This quest to find the Trevallier takes Bruno on a trip all over Europe and Russia, complete with new love interests, unexpected social events, and a lot of mystery. Interspersed with excerpts from some of his writing from his food column and previous books, Vintage takes you on a gustatory journey, the ends of which you won’t predict until you reach the end. The food and wine descriptions in the novel make you drool, which I have to say was slightly problematic for my pregnant and frequently hungry self!

Overall, Vintage is a well-written novel and makes for pretty fast reading from cover to cover. I had it read in no time, and was left feeling mostly satisfied with the outcome. Of course, there were a few times where the author could have gone a different direction with a particular story line that would have completely changed the outcome of the entire story, but overall I’m glad the characters developed the way that they did. There were definitely times when I wanted to slap Bruno Tannenbaum upside the head for being such an ass, but am happy that over the course of the book throughout his many adventures, he learned to straighten up his careless ways and develop into a more respectable man and father.

Vintage is not meant to be some mind-blowing epic novel. It’s a really fun read that will keep you on your toes and your fingers quickly turning to the next page. If you or someone you know is a fan of food and wine, this book is definitely one you might want to consider getting. It combines a passion for all those things plus all the ingredients necessary to create an funny, suspenseful, and overall entertaining novel that makes you care for the characters and how it all turns out for them in the end.

To order Vintage by David Baker, see Amazon.com or go to the publisher directly here.