Thursday, April 19, 2018

FAVORITE WINE BOOKS [4]


ECONOMICS OF WINE:
  • Colman, Tyler: Wine Politics, University of California Press, 2010.    From the heavier taxes on wines from the Dordogne River than those from Bordeaux, or the tariffs the English charged on French rather than Portuguese wines during the middle ages to the post-Prohibition, three tier distribution laws which still continue in 21st century America – politics has a powerful effect on what we are able to drink and what it tastes like. Tyler Colman exposes the politics behind the labels.

  • Lukacs, Paul: Inventing Wine, W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.   I originally was going to list this book in the ‘history of wine’ section because it traces the history of wine from its Middle-Eastern origins to its growing popularity in 21st century America. But it’s much more than a history book since Paul Lukacs’s real focus is on the combination of economic and social forces that affect how and what we drink.

  • Steinberger, Michael: The Wine Savant, W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.    This is very much a book of the moment; Steinberger discusses and analyses all the many issues and questions facing a wine drinker in 21st century America. The difference between a 95 and a 94-point wine, the current relationship between Bordeaux and Burgundy, the fashion for organic and biodynamic wines.

  • Veseth, Mike: Wine Wars, Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.    Mike Veseth has the unique gift of being able to write about dry, academic subjects in a way that makes for gripping and exciting reading. This book explains how all the competing economic forces that churn within today’s wine industry, affect what we are able to put in our glass. In his own words, this book discusses “The curse of the Blue Nun; the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck and the Revenge of the Terroirists.”

  • Wallace, Benjamin: The Billionaire’s Vinegar, Three Rivers Press, 2009.   Starting with the 1985 sale of a bottle of Chateau Lafitte once owned by Thomas Jefferson, for $156,000 – this amazing book introduces us to the surreal world of billionaire wine collectors and people who only drink wine bottled before the phylloxera scourge of the 1860s. Superb nonfiction that feels like fiction.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Favorite Wine Books [3]


SPECIFIC WINE REGIONS & ISSUES:

  Campbell, Christy: The Botanist and the Vintner, Algonquin Books, 2006.
1871 was an extremely bad year for France. France lost the Franco Prussian War, Emperor Napoleon III was exiled, Paris was taken over by the Communards – but worst of all, all the vineyards in France began to die and no wine was produced in France for another 30 years. This delightful book describes the scourge of Phylloxera and how France eventually recovered.

 Dovaz, Michel, and Michel Guillard: Bordeaux: Legendary Wines, Assouline, 2014.
This lavishly illustrated and luxurious book is slightly cheaper than most of the legendary wines which it so lovingly describes. And certainly, once opened, it will last much longer than all of them – once opened.

 Kliman, Todd: The Wild Vine, Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2010.
For those oenophiles interested in the early and unsuccessful attempts to produce wine in the young United States, this book explores the fascinating story of the Norton Grape.

 Pitte, Jean-Robert: Bordeaux/Burgundy, University of California Press, 2012.
It is an endless debate, never to be settled, which is best – the wines of Bordeaux or those of Burgundy? This delightful book offers no conclusion but explores all delicious aspects of the question.

 Potter, Maximillian: Shadows in the Vineyard, Twelve, 2014.
Based on the original article in Vanity Fair magazine, this ‘crime thriller’ of a book describes the criminal attack on one of the world’s most prestigious vineyards – Romanée-Conti. In telling his story, he also examines all the unique features of this famous wine region.

 Taber, George: Judgment of Paris, Scribner, 2006.
In addition to containing marvelously comprehensive descriptions of European and Californian winemakers’ art and passion, it is also contains the only eye-witness account of the famous wine-tasting afternoon in Paris in 1976 which dramatically changed the world of wine forever and ever.




Monday, February 26, 2018

FAVORITE WINE BOOKS [2]


HISTORY OF WINE:

 Butler, Joel, and Randall Heskett: Divine Vintage, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
There are 280 references to wine, vineyards and wine-making in the Bible. Noah’s first task after leaving the arc was to plant a vineyard and Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine. These two Biblical scholars explore the fascinating central relationship between wine and our Judeo-Christian traditions.

 Clarke, Oz: The History of wine in 100 Bottles, Stirling Publishing, 2015.
By focusing on one specific aspect of wine, a particular vintage, the shape or size of the bottle, a famous wine maker or drinker, Oz Clarke manages to describe the history and development of wine in a series of entertaining and informative vignettes.

 Johnson, Hugh: Vintage – The Story of Wine, Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Sadly, out of print but happily widely available through on-line booksellers, this hefty volume is a delightfully written and lushly illustrated pleasure to read from cover to cover. It is also in invaluable reference work written by one of the world’s greatest wine experts.

 McGovern, Patrick K.: Ancient Wines, Princeton University Press, 2003
McGovern is an anthropologist, a scientist, a chemist and a molecular archeologist who has focused his studies on the origins of wine in the Middle-East from Neolithic tombs, Noah and Gilgamesh to the Scorpion King and Tutankhamen. Fascinating.

 Phillips, Rod: 9000 Years of Wine, Whitecap Books, 2017
Covering much of the ancient history that McGovern discusses, this book takes the story further, tracing the spread of wine from the Middle-East, around the Mediterranean, throughout Europe and into the new world. The story ends with the international consumer market of the 21st century.

 Standage, Tom: A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Walker & Company, 2005
Wine plays only one aspect of this book, but Standage uses it to tell a fascinating history of human thirst. Beer in Mesopotamia and Egypt, Wine in Greece and Rome, Spirits in the Colonial Period, Coffee in the Age of Reason, Tea and the British Empire, Coca-Cola and the rise of America.

And of course, it goes without saying that The Booklovers' Guide to Wine itself includes a most comprehensive historical overview of the story of wine told in a most informative and entertaining manner!