Read between the wines with these tales of travel, science and your favorite beverage.
PERHAPS THE WINE LOVER in your life is like me, and enjoys reading about wine nearly as much as drinking the stuff, because we crave knowledge and insight into our favorite beverage. Here are four new books I enjoyed and happily can recommend as holiday gifts:
“Oz Clarke’s World of Wine,” $35: Clarke has long been among my favorite authors, so seeing this book by the British writer made it a pretty easy pickup.
In this 320-page volume, you hitch a ride with Clarke on a world tour of global wine regions. But he still hits close to home — his description of coming out of the Cascades into the Columbia Basin, and the wonder that filled him at the realization that a world-class region had been carved out of sage-covered hills, is nothing short of gloriously delicious.
I’m also a member of a “wines of the world wine club” (through National Geographic), which means I get a case of international red wine each month. Now I can sip a glass of pinot noir from Patagonia while reading Clarke’s descriptions of Argentina’s vineyards. If you can’t get on a plane, the next best thing is this book, with a glass on a winter’s eve in front of the fireplace.
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“Rosé All Day,” by Katherine Cole, $25: At first blush, you might wonder whether we need an entire book about pink wines. But rosé is one of the fastest-growing categories in the world, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
Cole, formerly the wine columnist for The Oregonian, kept waiting for someone to write this book. She got tired of waiting and did it herself, with research taking her to the South of France and other places around the globe where pink wine is important.
In this well-written volume, she takes us on a trip through the world of rosé, including its history, the process of making it, how the style changes and what foods work with pink wines.
“Hugh Johnson on Wine: The Good Bits from 60 Years of Scribbling,” $25: This classic British wine writer has been covering the wine industry for the better part of six decades for various publications, periodicals and books. The English all but invented the wine-writing game, between a fascination with the beverage and proximity to the classic winemaking regions of Western Europe.
Thanks to Johnson and the “scribbles” he chose to include in this book, we’re allowed to accompany him into French wine villages and the tiny restaurants at the end of lonely lanes, where success is measured in Michelin stars. It’s a privilege to tag along with him through his writing.
“Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine,” by Gordon M. Shepherd, $25: After I suffered a stroke last autumn, I was drawn to this book because it provides fascinating insights into how the brain teams with other parts of the body to make wine taste like it does.
Fortunately, the author doesn’t get bogged down in the science, so it isn’t too dense to understand. In fact, learning about these neurological connections will change the way you approach wine. I bet, like me, you’ll look entirely differently at that next glass of wine.