Each year I enjoy putting a list together of the best wine and food books I read throughout the year, and recommend them for the holidays. Since I have a great collection – already – for 2017, I thought I’d share for summer reading. We’ve still got six weeks to go. So, sit back, glass of wine in hand, and relax with lots of great wine books!
A Vineyard in Napa, by Doug Shafer, Fills in an Important Historical Napa Timeline
Written by Doug Shafer, this one is a library keeper for sure, in my Napa Valley history area. From the 70s until 2012, I really enjoyed reading about how it all began; why and how it’s still moving along really well. But, as Doug will tell you, it’s never been a completely comfortable bed of fluffy roses.
From the Shafer family, Doug segues into the Stag’s Leap District, and then into the Shafer’s extended family. Actually, chapters are quick and to the point, until you arrive at Chapter 23, and Doug introduces the time when he and John needed some help with winemaking. A much more fact-filled chapter introduces Elias Fernandez, in 1984, their long-standing and honored
Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker, is a joyful story of learning the who, what, when, and where of the quirky inner sanctum of sommeliers. Bianca is a down to earth SOMM, who’s a great teacher for the fun nuances of wine. She also writes about architecture, which complements her in a yin yang way… Science and emotion, all wrapped up into one very funny person. What a great sense of humor I found, throughout the book.
Page 46: Now, you can sip. Swish the wine around your mouth, then purse your lips like you’re about to say “oh no” and – oh no is right – suck in air over the wine so it feels like it’s bubbling over your tongue. “Aerating” the wine, the official term for wine snobs’ slurping, helps release its odor molecules, which combine with taste to form flavor. You’ll look ridiculous and probably lose friends, but you’ll get more from your wine.
Making Your Own Wine at Home, by Lori Stahl. Making your own wine is done by a lot of home winemakers. And, if you’ve ever thought about making your own wine, right in the comfort of your homestead, there’s a great new book on the market. Written by Lori Stahl, and published by Fox Chapel Publishing, Making Your Own Wine at Home is a no nonsense book that’s a practical, how-to beginners’ guide. Lori gives us creative recipes for making grape, fruit, and herb wines. From Fox Chapel’s Website…
It’s easier than you think to make wonderful wine at home. Get started today with this practical guide to making your first bottle of perfect homemade wine. Author Lori Stahl demystifies essential winemaking techniques with friendly, jargon-free instructions and gorgeous color photography. She begins by taking you step by step through making wine from a kit, and then shows you how to go beyond the kit with creative additions. Soon you’ll be making your own flavorful wine from fresh grapes, apples, berries, and even flowers and herbs. This home winemaking companion offers a wide selection of seasonal winemaking recipes, new twists on traditional favorites, and sweet ways to enjoy and indulge in the wines you create.
Red Mountain, by Boo Walker, is a novel that will draw you in, hold your attention, and have you up in the middle of the night because it’s nearly impossible to put down, wanting to know what happens next.
The challenge of a really great book, and this one is one of those, is that, for its readers it’s a reminder of our life cycle… It can begin with great joy. As it evolves, it has its intermediate moments of joy turning into learning curves for growth. And, like a dearly beloved family pet, its life is shorter than ours, so we have to take deep sighs at its “The End.” We eventually have to put it to rest in our libraries, for perhaps a revisit from time to time. I know that’s why I’ve schlepped my library from Maine to California, from Windsor to Geyserville, and the good gods only know where to next. But, schlep I will. Red Mountain is a keeper, and I’ll revisit it from time to time…
W(h)ine ~ 50 Perfect wines to Pair with your child’s ROTTEN behavior, by Jennifer Todryk, is so whiny and perfect in every single wine way. Got a behavior? Has she got a wine for you to fix that. Jennifer Todryk will have you choose a wine (Malbec) and pair it for certain behaviors (Temper Tantrum Wine). I was looking for Petite Sirah (given my history), but didn’t find it, among all of her varieties given the spotlight. For Petite, I was thinking all out warrior, ye-ha!, would have worked really well. Jennifer has covered so many other varietal wines, with so many other perfect tantrum storms, that I can just let Petite Sirah go for now.
If you’re a mom of small children, this book lets you know, you’re not alone. If you’re a grandmother, give the book to your daughters and sons, to let them know they’re not alone. Raising kids is the toughest job you’ll ever have, and if you can’t find the humor, when it’s all said and done, you missed a very important, adventurous boat filled with delights… beyond the tantrums, and some wine recommendations that will give you the giggles, at the end of the (long) day, before you hit the short, sleepless night.
White with Fish, Red with Murder, by Harvey Mazuk, is a murder mystery set in San Francisco and Russian River Valley in 1948. Harley Mazuk’s novel is one where you imagine Art Deco influences, with Humphrey Bogart (playing P.I. Frank Swiver) and Lauren Becall (Cicillia “Cici” O’Callaghan, as a brunette) getting it on in more ways than one. He calls her “doll,” she a vixen who’s sassy as all get out, and the intrigue, suspense, and sensuality draw you in… in this who done it, and why it’s been done to whom novel.
Does it help that it’s set in my neighborhoods? Yes, completely for me, while it will educate others to wine country, California Bay Area style. Even though Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland and now lives in Maryland; he knows these neighborhoods well, though, while he shares his love for California wines (and the business life-style side of it, shaped into this well-crafted novel).
White with Fish, Red with Murder heralds the beginning of a stimulating new series… Thank the good lord for that, because as you realize you’ve just read the final words, you’re already hankering for more.
Excellent for me, and probably the same for you, too ~ James Gabler
Jim Gabler is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with degrees in economics and law. He served as a finance officer in the U.S. Army. He practiced as a civil trial lawyer for both the defense and plaintiff. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife. The following are his wine books.
Dine with Thomas Jefferson and Fascinating Guests: an account of 25 fact-based dinners at Monticello, the White House, Paris, Philadelphia, and the French wine country. The dinners center on four of Jefferson’s passions: wine, food, conversation, and travel. The guests are a who’s who of famous people of the time. A perfect companion for those who appreciate wine, food, travel, interesting conversation, and the camaraderie of fascinating people. $25, Amazon’s Direct link.
An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation. Travel back in time to 18th century Paris and spend an evening with two of the most extraordinary men in history who loved wine and food and changed the world for the better. In the comfort of Jefferson’s residence, join Franklin and Jefferson for dinner, and in response to your questions they tell in their own words the most interesting stories of their lives. “A brilliant roman à clef around the lives and travels of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin,” Robert M. Parker, Jr, Amazon’s Direct Link print $18, e-book $9.99.
Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson: “Brilliant”…”Magnificent”… “Remarkable”… “Exciting”… “Superb”… Winner of the 1995 “Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year,” and a Robert M. Parker, Jr. “Wine Book of the Year” selection. “With the touch of an artist, Jim Gabler brings to life Jefferson’s passion for wine.” The definitive work on Jefferson and wine. $25, Amazon’s Direct Link
How To Be A Wine Expert, A Beginner’s Guide, 3rd edition, $15, amazon.com, makes learning about wine fun and easy with an emphasis on the three keys to wine appreciation: color, bouquet and taste. The essentials of more than 100 of the world’s best wine varieties are covered including the following: