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Books,Wine,Wine Writer

Best Wine Books of 2010 ~ For your Holiday Shopping Needs ~ Day 2

This past year, I’ve received a good amount of wine book for my reading pleasure, and also for reviewing. I may have come across something for almost everyone for this holiday season.

Continuing from yesterday’s Day 1:

Home Winemakers Bible

  • Home Winemaking For Dummies ($19.99), by Tim Patterson ~ Tim Patterson is not only an award-winning home winemaker, but he’s also authored many books. I adore Tim Patterson, as he and I worked on the Concannon: The First One Hundred and Twenty Fine Years book. He’s a brilliant writer, and now I know he’s a brilliant winemaker, too. This book is an ultimate guide in winemaking as a resource. In Home Winemaking For Dummies, Tim discusses the following:
    • Home winemaking from grape to bottle
    • Getting the best grapes
    • Deciding on how many grapes you need
    • Determining what equipment is required
    • Selecting the right yeast
    • Figuring out if any other additives are needed
    • Storing, aging, and testing your wine

International curiosity, lovers of Portugal, its wine regions, wines, and culture

  • Living in Portugal, by Anne de Stoop ($50.00) ~ If ever there was an author whose command of the English language and skill of sentence construction was such that I wish I had inherited her gift, Anne de Stoop is that person. This book was given to me by my Portuguese client Delfim Costa of Enoforum Wines (Finisterra, Alente, and Alem). The thing I love about Delfim is that he’s a complete visionary. He doesn’t just want me to focus on his brands, he also wants me to become an avid fan of Portugal, its people, its culture, and its wines… all of them, so that I tell a much better story for his country. This, he knows, will build world awareness, and has given me this amazing, monumental, and completely delightful task. So… the book… it did the trick, again. I fell in love with Anne de Stoops words, the images by Jerome Darblay, and the regions of Portugal are so well defined. Here’s a paragraph, demonstrating how her words just take my breath away… Perhaps yours, too.

Learning about Spanish wines ~ the Bible

  • Peñín Guide to Spanish Wines ($35.00), editor José Peñín ~ The quintessential book for anyone with a passion for or wanting to learn about Spanish wines. In this book, there are more than 8,700 wines that were tasted, and more than 9,000 Spanish brands have been reviewed. I can’t imagine any book being more comprehensive. This one lists wine regions, of which I had no knowledge until this book arrived on my doorstep. I have to admit that my first learnings about the wine business have been very California centric. One has to start somewhere, so moving to Russian River Valley certainly had some immediate and swift learning benefits… But now, the world is my oyster, and I’m dining with the best of them. This resource is as good as it gets for learning about Spanish wines, the varieties, and the players. I’m most impressed, as your wine lover will be, whether novice or consummate.

Massive references book for the totally absorbed

  • Opus Vino, by Editor-in-Chief Jim Gordon ($75.00) ~ When Jose spied this one, he told me that he wanted Santa to know that he would love to own this book. Funny, we share all the books in this house; but, he wants to have this one become his after I review it. When I received this book, I was delighted to see Jim Gordon’s name on it. We’ve known each other for more years than I can remember, simply because when I came into this business, Jim was already firmly planted in the vineyard. Formerly the managing editor of Wine Spectator, Jim’s got solid cred… and now this solid body of work. this new book is cited as being a new look at a new world of wine from a new generation of wine writers. It explores more than 4,000 of the world’s most significant wineries. It includes well established producers and it also contains some rising stars. It’s an invaluable reference book, and for a wine lover who wants to be up on what’s the most current wines of the world, you’ll make his or her heart do a flip, as evidenced by Jose spying this book in my office and wanting to claim it as his very own… Okay, Jose… Just don’t tell Santa that the cat is out of the bag.

Perfect pocketbook quick references

  • Good, Better, Best Wines, by Carolyn Evans Hammond ($12.95) ~ In the book, you’ll find the following:
    • The good, better and best big name wines under $5, $8, $11 and $15, for each major grape variety
    • Hundreds of bottle images, for easy recognition on the shelf
    • Jargon-free tasting notes
    • Perfect party wine recommendations for specific occasions
    • Trade secrets for getting the most out of each bottle

Visual images, profound revelations with an aesthetic edge

  • Wine’s Hidden Beauty, by Sondra Barrett, PhD ($35.00) ~ For me, Sondra is not only a local artist/author, but she’s also become a dear friend. It’s easy to adore someone whom you meet over lunch, lives within 15 to 20 minutes, and has a profound sense of the world and life, and loves exploring wine with Jose and me at our Wine Century Club. All of this came after I read her amazing book. Amid the splendor of the visuals of this book, you’re also going to do a bit of soul searching… At least, I did. Andre Tchelistcheff said to Sondra about her images, “They are the jewels in wine. Put them on silk scarves.” (I agree.) Sondra thinks of wine as a nurturing community as she travels through molecular structures and the inner magnificence of wine. For instance, she’s discovered that wine’s molecular shapes grow larger as they age, and lose vitality and form as they decline in age. Her microcosmic images are a replication of our own life forms; and yet, her world is not one that we would readily recognize, not without her expertise.

Wine lovers who love to love the best inexpensive wines (and books)

  • The Wine Trials 2011 ($14.95), Edited by Robin Goldstein, Alexis Herschkowitsch, and Tyce Walters ~ How fun it is to get a book in the mail and find one of my own clients in the book. That client would be Happy Camper Wines. Now… off to the book and why you might be delighted… The wines in this book are all under $15, and according to the authors… “that beat $50+ bottles in this year’s rigorous brown-bag blind tastings.” That’s quite a statement to make about these extraordinary results. On www.fearlesscritic.com, you can keep up, too, but there’s nothing like having their Third Edition in a wine library for future reference. Most wine companies try to stay consistent to their marketing plan.
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6 Responses to “Best Wine Books of 2010 ~ For your Holiday Shopping Needs ~ Day 2”

  1. Sondra says:

    Jo,
    Thank you for the beautiful words about my book. And a special thanks to your cousin for connecting us long before the book was out. Our friendship comes with wine and good stories. Cheers!

  2. Jeff V. says:

    Interesting list Jo.

    I didn’t realize that there were so many home-winemakers out there!
    I am compelled to add the following.

    Paul Gregutt continues to educate the world on the wines of Washington state:

    WASHINGTON WINES and WINERIES by Paul Gregutt, Second Edition, 360 pages, University of California Press, Berkeley California, 2010 Price: $34.95

    And my winner for the BEST wine book in 2010 (and it wasn’t even close)

    READING BETWEEN THE WINES by Terry Theise, First Edition, 189 pages, University of California Press, Berkeley California, 2010 Price: $24.95

    http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520265332

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    I’ve got to get on my connection of UC Press… I adore Paul Gregutt, and wish I had been on the receiving end of that one, along with Terry’s book. I’ll have to have them for my 2011 list. Thanks, Jeff.

  4. Dexter says:

    Thanks for the post! As a novice wine drinker, I realize that understanding the world of wine can be challenging for some. I recently found a great resource that I found quite helpful. It’s called “Wine Knowledge” and describes all of the basics for my fellow novice wine enthusiasts!

    Thanks again!

  5. Linda says:

    Looking for books or info on the history of fruit (non-grape) wines. Anyone come across any?

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Interesting focus. I don’t know of any. Anyone else?

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