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I admit it… I’m addicted to books… I love them. As I was reading last night, curled up on my couch under a blanket and reading a great book, I was reminded of how luxurious that moment was… I contemplated a future with no more books and a notebook on my lap, not being able to turn the pages, not racing back to a previous chapter, and not jumping ahead at will… and having to only scroll up and down. Some day, my pretties, this will be a thing of the past, and no one will be the wiser.

Meanwhile, the holidays are fast approaching. There have been a lot of new culture, food, wine and spirits books that I’ve enjoyed this year. Each one has had its own story and unique perspective.

I’m recommending each one for a different reason, because they’re all relevant to learning more about culture, food, wine and spirits. I know that there might be someone on your list that would enjoy one of these, as I have throughout 2009

  1. 2010 Food & Wine Wine Guide ~ Anthony Giglio
  2. Been Doon So Long ~ Randall Grahm
  3. Wine’s Hidden Beauty ~ Bioscapes of Wine: Sondra Barrett
  4. DRINK THIS: Wine Made Simple ~ Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl
  5. Fialho: Alentejo Cuisine ~ by Alberto Franco (given to me by restaurateur Manuel Fialho , while in his restaurant during my stay in Évora, Portugal)
  6. In Search of Bacchus, Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism ~ George M. Taber
  7. Into the Earth: A Wine Cave Renaissance ~ Daniel D’Agostini with Molly Chappellet
  8. Ploughing the Sea: Poems from The Lusiads ~ Luís de Camões (given to me by my client Enoforum, while in Lisbon)
  9. Tequila, The Spirit of Mexico ~ Enrique Martinez Limón, given to me by my client Tequila Semental
  10. The Boundless Sea: Poems from Mensagem ~ Fernando Pessoa (given to me by my client Enoforum, while in Lisbon)
  11. The First Global Village ~ Martin Page, given to me by my client Enoforum Wines (given to me before Enoforum became a client)
  12. The Grapes Grow Sweet ~ Lynne Tuft
  13. The Psychology of Wine ~ Evan Mitchell and Brain Mitchell
  14. Sabores de Portugal (Tastes of Portugal) ~ Chef Silva (Given to me by my client Enoforum, while in Lisbon)

2010 Food & Wine Wine Guide, by Anthony Giglio, is always a welcomed edition, as it encompasses the world of wine. It covers all regions in a general way, but for anyone wanting to explore the world with the better known brands, this little book not only gives a person a great running start for knowing what wines to explore, but it also fits very nicely into a jacket pocket, or right into a woman’s purse or man’s European carry-all (Seinfeld, remember?).

Been Doon So Long, by Randall Grahm, is a great anthology of his life’s work. Any Grahm fan would love this book, if s/he doesn’t yet have it, yet. It’s full of fun and whimsy, as well as being a career retrospective from one of our most beloved, California wine characters.

Bioscapes of Wine, by Sondra Barrett: Sondra is a scientist and educator who merges science, art, and lifestyle skills. She has created totally captivating images of the inner beauty of wine, as seen with polarizing light, where she photographs though a microscope. This process captured the amazing images of a world unlike any other we’ve heretofore seen. Sondra’s created the blending of art and science with images that an artist would have a difficult time initially imagining, without first having visited this world of hers.

DRINK THIS: Wine Made Simple, by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, is a wonderful read. Dara  writes like she thinks, I dare say, in funny sound bytes and easily proving her points. I lover her writing style, as it’s as done-to-earth as her explanations about wine are. If anyone you know is just starting out with wine, and feels the least bit confused, Dara Grumdahl will quickly point that person in the right direction.

Fialho: Alentejo Cuisine, by Alberto Franco, given to me by restaurateur friend Manuel Fialho , while in his restaurant during my stay in Évora, Portugal, is a classic. If you’ve never tasted Portuguese food, this might be the year to give your self a great book. If you have and you want to share with family and friends your great experiences, this book’s for you. It’s written in both Portuguese and English, by the way, in a side-by-side manner on each page.

In Search of Bacchus, Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, by George M. Taber, is another great book by George.  George M. Taber delivers not only wonderful tales about his journeys through the wine world, but he also is a great recorder of history for each region, which makes it more rich with understandings for each region. He’s one of my favorite authors, because his writing is so approachable, enjoyable, and informative… It’s like being with an old friend when immersed in his writings.

Into the Earth: A Wine Cave Renaissance, by Daniel D’Agostini with Molly Chappellet, is THE coffee table book of this season. If someone’s got a great coffee table and a love of wine, there’s no better, more gorgeous book available. Panache Publishing produces the highest quality books, and the subject matter of this one, alone, is well worth the read. You’ll astound your recipient. Maybe you should buy two, because you’re going to have a hard time giving this one away, if you don’t have your own copy. [$50.00]

Ploughing the Sea: Poems from The Lusiads, by Luís de Camões (given to me by my client Enoforum, while in Lisbon), is a beautiful little book of poems, and is a great little read during those quiet moments, and takes me back to that part of my heart when reading it.

Tequila, The Spirit of Mexico, by Enrique Martinez Limón, was given to me by my client Tequila Semental. This book has given me a crash course in the Spirit of Mexico, and is worth its weight in gold for teaching the culture and the process.

The Boundless Sea: Poems from Mensagem, by Fernando Pessoa (given to me by my client Enoforum, while in Lisbon), is another little book on poems related to Portugal. (This past 2009 year was my year for learning about Portugal, as described in my New Year’s resolution, and the universe was listening, completely delivering my dream.)

The First Global Village, by Martin Page, was given to me by Delfim Costa well before Enoforum Wines became a client. It started my year, and is now closing it out as a second reading took me back after having experienced Portugal. A lot more was put into context. If you know someone who loves Portugal, or just loves exploring new places, this book completely delivers.

The Grapes Grow Sweet, by Lynne Tuft has created a charming full-colored family picture book, The Grapes Grow Sweet. It’s the first book written for children about grape growing. Four-year old Julian is finally old enough to take part in the grape harvest on his family’s vineyard. Through Julian’s wonder, The Grapes Grow Sweet offers a captivating glimpse of growing up on a vineyard, and the development of the grape from bloom to harvest.

The Psychology of Wine, by Evan Mitchell and Brian Mitchell (father and son team of Evan and Brian Mitchell) is a delightful gathering and sharing of wine related information, past learned experiences and quotes, as well as subtle psychology all along the journey. This book would be great for any wine geek friends, because it has so many concepts contained within it. It will keep your wine loving friends busy for a while. It’s one that once read is then accessed for a tidbit or two, with great cocktail party opening lines…

Sabores de Portugal (Tastes of Portugal), by Chef Silva (Given to me by my client Enoforum, while in Lisbon) is another great Portuguese recipe book. In both Portuguese and English, your family or friend who receives this book will be able to cook up a great dish to go with a great Portuguese wine… and maybe even invite you to the party. This has the potential to be the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s been a very interesting year… this 2009. Looking forward to 2010, and meanwhile you and your family and friends can share a bit of the world that was a banner year for me.

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