On Wine

Stick a cork in it and open a wine book instead

December 15, 2012 

It’s a good vintage for wine books this year, with something for every wine lover on your list. Here are a few sure winners:

How to Love Wine: A Memoir and a Manifesto, by Eric Asimov (William Morrow, $24.99).

A big Asimov fan, I bought this before its release date and was glad I did. It’s terrific. Asimov writes about wine thoughtfully and clearly, and his comments just make sense to me. I read Asimov when I need grounding after getting caught up in the wine whirlwind. This is the book I would give without hesitation to anyone who loves wine. It delivers what the title says, inspiring both the new wine drinker and the seasoned wine pro.

The Curious World of Wine, by Richard Vine

(Perigee, $20).

This is perfect for lovers of fun facts and trivia. Brimming with great snippets, stories and quotes, it’s an easy and very entertaining read. A copy of this and a wine trivia game would be perfect for the cork dork in your life.

The New York Times Book of Wine: More Than 30 years of Vintage Writing, edited by Howard G. Goldberg

(Sterling Epicure, $24.95).

This is a collection of essays and articles from the wonderful writers at the Times. I laughed out loud, cried a little, learned a great deal, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Reading it is a bit like re-living the last 30 years of the explosive growth in the world of wine.

Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours, by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz

(Ecco, $175).

This is a big book, in every sense of the word – with 1,280 pages, it weighs about 7 pounds according to my bathroom scale and it is pricey. And yet, it’s a must-own for the serious wine lover, a meticulously researched book that will likely be the definitive work in this field for decades. Your wine lover might also enjoy a year’s subscription to Robinson’s Purple Pages, which also includes online access to her classic book, “The Oxford Companion to Wine.” Get details at jancisrobinson.com.

Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraly

(Sterling Epicure, $19.95).

A must-own for any wine lover, the newest edition is out in paperback. This version feels very modern, with codes you can scan for instructional videos and updated websites for online searches.

In Search of Pinot Noir, by Benjamin Lewin

(Wine Appreciation Guild, $45).

I loved Lewin’s previous books, “Wine Myths and Reality” and “What Price Bordeaux?”. This is a satisfying and in-depth look at the pinot noir grape, and would be a lovely choice for a pinot lover.

Catherine Rabb is a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: catherine.rabb@jwu.edu

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