Published on October 8, 2019
The other day, I logged onto Amazon, clicked through to the books section, typed “wine” into the search box and, to my amazement, discovered that there are nearly 100,000 books with the word “wine” in the title.
So, just how, if you’re looking for a wine book for Christmas, can you possibly hope to choose the right one for, either, yourself or vino loving family members or friends? Frankly, given the colossal choice, it’s a somewhat thankless task but don’t despair because I may well be able to help.
Below, are brief details of the four most indispensable wine books in my personal collection, together with their cheapest prices on Amazon (new and second hand).
Vino: Great Wine for Everyday Life by Hamish Anderson – new £ 16.95, second hand 1p
In his now sadly out of print 2003 book, Hamish Anderson, the award winning wine buyer for Tate Britain and Tate Modern, succeeded where many have failed by creating a book with as much appeal to the wine aficionado as the wine novice.
‘Vino has several components: if you’re uncertain as to what wine to use for different social occasions, the amiable Anderson is at hand with the perfect suggestion. And if you find yourself with wine left over from a party, he can come up with the most appropriate food. The sections here on identifying the best wines (and the wine lovers’ individual responses to them) are among the most useful, taking in all current aspects of wine scholarship, from global wine styles to regions and recipes to complement the best vintages. The prose is always direct and unfussy, but Anderson vividly conjures up the experience the different wines offer.’ – Barry Forshaw
A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine by Jay McInerney – new £ 10.99, second hand 1p
Novelist, Jay McInerney, is best known for his classic 1980’s New York novel, “Bright Lights, Big City”, but he’s no slouch when it comes to non-fiction and his wine columns for the USA edition of “House & Garden” are witty, comical, candid and provocative.
‘A Hedonist in the Cellar” contains over 50 of McInerney’s best columns and according to the New York Times, ‘McInerney’s wine judgements are sound, his anecdotes witty, and his literary references impeccable. Not many wine books are good reads; this one is.’
Wine Atlas: Wines and Wine Regions of the World by Oz Clarke – second hand £ 15
In the Wine Atlas, Clarke entertains the reader with his opinionated prose and, with the aid of 75 specially commissioned, hand-painted panoramic maps, takes the reader on a ‘grand tour’ of the great wine regions of the world
‘Clarke spins word pictures on what makes wine what it is with authority, colour and clarity. To read his explanation of what makes each region special is to find yourself smelling the air and feeling the rocks under your feet. It’s the next best thing to being there.’ – Wine Spectator
Wine Grapes: a complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours by Jancis Robinson – new £ 97.50, second hand £ 80.00
Clearly, this is a very expensive book and I almost omitted it for that reason but if you’re buying a book for a serious wine geek it really doesn’t get better than this.
‘This thousand-plus-page monument combines 21st-century science with the ambition, scale and authority of 19th-century scholarship. It may be the nerdiest wine book ever published (and, trust me, that’s a competitive title) but it’s also a work of astounding scholarship, and as a piece of book-making, is an outright masterpiece.’ – John Lanchester Guardian, Books of the Year 2012)