As with wine, I believe books written about wine also have a shelf life. Some age well, and others don’t. Being a wine geek, most of my reading involves, as you guessed, books written about wine. I love flipping through my old books, one favorite being a used copy of Wines of The World, an immense and progressive book, for the time it was printed in the late 1960s.
But much has changed in the international world of wine.
Books written 40 years ago were generally intimidating and overwhelming, even for the connoisseur. But with today’s selections there are no excuses not to delve into the wine books awaiting your exploration.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Wine All-in-One for Dummies by Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Maryann Egan (For Dummies, $20). This book is ideal for anyone beginning their exploration, those starting with zero knowledge of wine or those who know a little but want to learn and need a starting point. It helps readers decode the complex variety of grapes, includes information on wine regions and answers beginners’ questions on all aspects of wine. It’s approachable and not overly technical, making it an easy place to begin your exploration.
The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson (Oxford University Press, $60). Every wine lover’s bookshelf should have a copy of this book. I referred to my personal copy so many times the spine and cover tore off my first edition; fortunately, it was just in time for the second edition printing. Now in its third edition, this book is recognized as the authoritative guide, covering every aspect of wine and winemaking, including in-depth analysis of the vast range of wines available around the world. If you add only one book to your collection it should be this one.
Napa Valley: The Land, The Wine, The People by Charles O’Rear and Daphne Larkin (Wineviews Publishing, $45). Napa Valley was bestowed an honor with O’Rear as the photographer behind this stunning book. I recommend it for anyone searching for an indulgence of the senses. It’s a photographic journey through one of the world’s most amazing wine regions. O’Rear, a former National Geographic photographer, has been documenting the area since 1978. Today he owns the largest collection of wine-related photos in the United States. His most famous — and probably most viewed in the world — is Bliss, the default Microsoft wallpaper on a billion computers around the world, according to the publisher.
Bordeaux: People, Power and Politics by Stephen Brook (Mitchell Beazley, $15). Becoming more difficult to find, this is still one of my favorite wine books in my library. It’s like a wine-culture book and a spy and romance novel all wrapped into one. This unique exploration into Bordeaux’s wine trade goes behind the scenes to discover how the region’s wines are produced, marketed and sold, revealing an intriguing look into the power of the press, merchants and consumers over prices and wine culture.