Though I don’t work magic in the kitchen as much as I used to, I’m still a cookbook fan. Culinary text and images never fail to inspire me to nag my wife to recreate whatever catches my eye.

One of my favourite recent releases is Jeff Potter’s Cooking For Geeks (O’Reilly, $43.99): A macho tome that reads more like an issue of Popular Science than an artsy Gordon Ramsay creation.

Potter takes the MythBusters route by explaining the ins and out of everything from baking bread to making things melt in weird ways in what ends up as a fascinating read. But experimenting with Potter may have to wait until after barbecue season: The few months when I can hold up my end of meal creation.

One of my fave grilling grapes is zinfandel and the 2008 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin ($16.95 – $19.99) is a mocha-meets-deep berry wonder that rocks everything from cuts of beef to burgers.

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