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Books,Education,Spirits,Wine,Wine Writer

2015 Wine and Spirits Books for the Holidays

Each year I enjoy putting a list together of the best wine and food books I read throughout the year. This year is no exception. Here are my 2015 Wine and Spirits Books.

Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers ~ Second Edition, by Joseph Mills

Every bit as good as his first edition; Joe Mills begins this journey with his penchant for humor, but then he leans into more thoughtfully provocative musings.

The humor continues; but then I didn’t have to hold my splitting sides. Joe took a turn into simple observations of life in the wine world, watching behaviors without judgment. He just states facts that we take for granted, but are curious, nonetheless… And, they make you smile and think.

Nothing has changed with his second edition, as regards the quality of his humanity. It’s a great read and worth putting into your (or someone else’s) wine (book) library.

Bourbon Curious, by Fred Minnick

If you’ve got a family member or friend who loves bourbon, this book is “must have” in a wine and spirits library. I’ve only ever-so-briefly touched on Bourbon Curious. There’s still much to explore. It’s also a “must have” book for anyone studying for her of his Master Sommelier’s test.

EXCERPT: According to Fred, bourbon, like wine, has its own culture. If you love bourbon, this isn’t news to you. Minnick calls it the most misunderstood spirit on liquor store shelves. I’m betting that he’s right. If you don’t know anything at all, it’s best to start with the best person to explain the mysterious. In this case, a spirit… I was exposed exposed to Bourbon as a kid, because it was my mom and dad’s favorite spirit. Then, it got revisited via the culture.

The Carmenere Wines of Chile from the Cachapoal Valley, by Sara Matthews

Class act: Along with three Carmenere wines from Concha y Toro, I also received “Red Grapes, Hidden Treasure: The Carmenere Wines of Chile, from the Cachapoal Valley.” The book is gorgeous, and I got a major knowledge bump (without falling on my head) about Carmenere from Chile’s Cachapoal Valley.

This coffee table sized book has images by photographer Sara Mathews. The stories are written by Sara Matthews, Mariana Martinez, and Rafael Guilisasti, and the forward was written by Isabel Guilisasti, the marketing director of Concha y Toro. What a magnificent collaboration. Eye candy at its finest and words for your Spanish soul, even if you have no Spanish DNA.

The Charlemagne Connection, by R.M. Cartmel

If someone you know loves a great mystery novel set in wine country, this one will make someone very happy, this holiday season. It’s set in the methodically arranged vineyards of Burgundy, and things get a bit rumpled for a short time, with Commander Charlemagne Truchaud, our hero detective.

EXCERPT: If you love fiction and a good mystery, in a far off place that also teaches you a bit about wine grape growing in France, most especially, I highly recommend that you purchase R.M. Cartmel’s novels. He won’t let you down, as the book is hard to put down; and, once ended ~ it, like a really fine wine ~ just lingeringly stays with you as a smooth and silky finish.

The Diabetic Wine Lovers Guide, by Theodore Berland

The Diabetic Wine Lovers Guide… Do you think it can happen? I know it can, because I have someone who, once he was “pre-diagnosed,” took his life into his own hands, and still drinks wine today, but lost the “pre-diagnosed.” How? Get the book. It’s so simple to read and so simple to help someone who is “open to knowing how.”

EXCERPT: This is one of the best books ever written for a diabetic, because today’s modern world knows more than ever about wine. Author Theodore Berland has created a very important body of work. Inspired by Harvey Posert… if you’re in the wine business and you don’t know who Harvey is, look him up for his great accomplishments… Theodore Berland has many degrees (B.S., A.M., FAMWA) and is an award-winning medical writer. He’s authored more than 20 books and has written for magazines, newspapers, and medical journals. (Side note: He’s also has written three plays.) This is a serious writer, and so this book cannot be taken lightly, by anyone not willing to listen.

The Essence of Wine, by Alder Yarrow

This is a gorgeous coffee table book, for more than the passionate wine lovers among us. The book began as a collaboration among food photographer Leigh Beisch, art director and stylist Sara Slavin, and wine writer Alder Yarrow.

Alder Yarrow writes as a great educator, leading his readers down a path to wine enlightenment. The accompanying photography by Leigh Beisch is wonderfully vivid. As a parallel, Alders words are just as rapturous.  I dare you to not get emotionally involve in his book… You might also have a hard time giving it away.

Yarrow takes you though a garden’s essence, to share the flavors that are also associated with wine; from herbs to spices, to vegetables and  honey… to dried meats and chocolate… No flavors seems to have escaped his palate, including flaws in wine.

It’s a must read and gorgeously sumptuous visual experience. I cherish Alder Yarrow’s words, and I’m betting that you will, too. It’s a extremely exceptional body of work.

To purchase The Essence of Wine, visit this link on Vinography.

Evolution of a Wine Drinker, by Alicia Bien

If know someone just beginning a wine journey, I strongly recommend this book. It’s inspiring, most especially if someone is a writer. Alicia is also a screenwriter and head writer for the live sketch show Top Story! Weekly in Hollywood. She’ll inspire your person receiving this gift.

EXCERPT:Evolution of a Wine Drinker, by Alicia Bien, is an adorable read about her journey from being a college beer partier to becoming knowledgeable about wine.

Her journey begins with taking what was going to be a slam dunk, easy senior course. Instead, it turned into a bit of a nightmare, with Captain Sargent leading the torture… Even when it made that turn, an older Marine is still a Marine, after all,… and, you WILL get it.

Tangled Vines, Frances Dinkelspiel

If you have a friend with a wine book library, he or she will not be able to put this one down until all is revealed.

EXCERPT: Tangled Vines is one of the most fascinating wine history books I’ve read to date…

I dove in, nearly drowned from the greed, murder, obsession, arson… Two decades in the wine business and this is nothing that I knew about, except for Mark Anderson’s horrific fire deed… But, even that was limited. I was shocked to see his smug face, on Berkeleyside website. (There is no sense of remorse or humbling.)

It’s all there and so, so much more. I highly recommend Tangled Vines for those who are fascinated by history, especially the history of wine in California.

Wines of South America, by Evan Goldstein

Evan’s book came to me in 2014; however, I’m bringing it back. In 2015, Evan’s award winning book still remains a must read for anyone wanting to understand the wines of South America. Master Sommelier candidates? Yes, I’m talking to you, most especially. If ever there is a wine educator extraordinaire, it’s Evan Goldstein.

EXCERPT: This latest book by Evan Goldstein is just brilliant, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from him; and, that’s why he’s even more important to me than the books he’s producing… Evan Goldstein is capable of taking a book that he’s written and going on the road with the education he’s gained in the process… to eagerly share with the world all the knowledge that he’s discovered.

Wines of South America is now the most essential guide on this region, eclipsing any other bodies of work in my wine (book) library to this point in time, if not forever.

Wine in Words, by Lettie Teague

Lettie Teague’s Wine in Words is headed toward one of the best wine books, ever… Wine in Words, Notes for Better Drinking. Lettie is as much the resource as she is charming. Easy to read, personable, this valuable book is headed toward being one of the best wine books ever sold, historically… It’s a major keeper! Congratulations to Lettie Teague.

EXCERPT: I found her quote by Albert Einstein enlightening and perfect for today’s methods of operation, given the World Wide Web’s presence: “Never memorize anything you can look up.” This was in relation to those who feel the need to study each vintage, and then wax poetic. I haven’t had the time, in my 23 years of learning about wine – with the exception of a few Margaux – to memorize vintages of importance. Lettie states that having a bit of knowledge will help you, when you’re looking at a wine list and don’t recognize one single producer, but it’s not life or death.

 

2 Responses to “2015 Wine and Spirits Books for the Holidays”

  1. Peter Wotruba says:

    I would definitely add “The Winemaker” by Richard Peterson. It is a good book about his life as a winemaker and the evolution of winemaking practices in California.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for your addition, Peter. Forgive me for being tardy in approving your comment. I was on vacation with family all last and didn’t have access to my office computer, to get into the back end. Thanks for your recommendation of “The Winemaker< " by Richard Peterson. Here's a link, for anyone interested. http://richardgpeterson.com/

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