Rick Kushman was one of the nation’s best TV critics before turning his attention to wine. The skills needed for writing about both topics jump off every page of “A Moveable Thirst: Tales and Tastes from a Season in Wine Country.”
Displaying a sense of humor worthy of a “Simpsons” writer and the stamina of someone who has made it through a dozen bad miniseries, Kushman chronicles a year of visiting each and every tasting room in the Napa Valley.
The travelogue that unfolds over the book’s first half features a jeroboam-load of interesting characters and experiences, as Kushman and Sacramento wine buyer Hank Beal blanket America’s most renowned wine region.
The book’s second half includes seriously detailed capsules on 141 wineries, down to such all-important details as the availability of spit buckets, plus the kind of back stories that wine enthusiasts relish.
While some tasting rooms have opened and others have closed (RIP, Chateau Potelle) since the book’s publication, it’s still a timely, lively volume, easily the best Napa travel guide I’ve come across. (Full disclosure: Since the book’s publication, Kushman and I have become friends and occasional quaffing mates.)
In serving as “the enthusiastic idiot” to Beal’s serious expert, Kushman not only makes readers want to go to Napa but provides immeasurable help for those who decide to do so.