DISCLAIMER: All of the following books were sent to me as #sample copies for my reviews.
Then there are wine books that are slowly savored, in sound bites. Do you remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of my blogging time enjoys reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is my resource for anyone searching for help in choosing wine books for others, or even one’s self. This year was a fun journey, again, with Peter Staford-Bow’s new novel, Firing Blancs. Then it was followed by some serious education:
- Mythology of Wine
- Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys
- Professional Drinking
And a great little entry book, everybody needs one when just starting, What Varietal is That? A Beginners Guide
If you love wine, love to read, and love to occasionally embark on a modern-day, non-fiction reality of wine; or, if you choose to embark on a fantasy wine journey (still) based on actual wine facts, wine novels really deliver.
Where does one begin, once the story ends? After Corkscrew and Brut Force, I wondered where it would go next. The answer is Firing Blancs, written by Peter Staford-Bow.
Always, the book’s outrageous covers are revealed within the body of the book. This one is so outrageous, but this is might just be my white privilege talking. People do do the darndest things… Something very primal is an understatement for Peter’s latest novel Firing Blancs. A (disgusting) rite-of-passage opens up a whirlpool of adventures, sucking our naughty hero Felix Hart into a cultural vortex of subprimal essence. As a result of his wine sales and marketing job, Felix Hart is transported into a world of South African, female dominance. In many ways, it’s so dark with raw ethnicity and the sense of being on the other side of the coin. To be the only one who is on the outside looking in is very curious and cool at the same time for Felix.
Felix Hart, in this novel, is the head of wine at Gatesave Supermarketing in the UK. Early on he accidentally chokes his CEO to death during a board presentation. Next, he is sent to South Africa to subdue bad publicity, a novel idea evolves.
The Mythology of Wine, by Arthur George, is one delightfully serious body of work. You must pay attention, as it’s fast-moving over the last 6,000 years, yet very well documented, with listed sources, while very mindful of then and now. It’s also a divinely, engaging read, as it goes through history, with a relevant “now” comment from Arthur George.
It’s a valuable resource for anyone studying, enjoying wine culture, and wanting more enrichment; or, even for writers, scribing their own journeys and needing solid, fascinating resources. It also belongs in a wine section in any library… Great for those of us where we have a dedicated wine section in our own book libraries. In this enological, history is the guiding path to a bright future for enjoying even more about wine, than its acid, pH, alcohol levels, and what of the hundreds of flavors does wine have, for the exact same compounds as other fruit. Nothing wrong with that, seriously; now add the sunshine, the music, and the skill of who, what, when, and where, in bringing forth “why?” This book is loaded with whys and hows.
In the world’s history, is there anything else with as much history and intrigue as wine? For the curious, there are more facts in this one book, to keep you occupied and inspired for a very long time. The depths of storytelling is so intricate and so well researched. Personal moment, it made me shake my head, when I read “King Scorpion I,” from around 3150 BCE.” Who knew? Certainly not me, at this point in time, until now. Not sure I’d even want to meet King Scorpion I.
Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys
Women Winemakers was written by wife and husband team Lucia Albino Gilbert & John C. Gilbert.
Here’s what you really need to know and remember ~ Well acclaimed history professors, writing about female winemaking history with in-person interviews, facts, figures, and from around places in this world. Each woman was interviewed and telling it like it was and still is, through having conducted what must have been some of the most tedious and extensive, albeit enjoyable, moments of the authors’ lives.
The foreword was written by Zelma Long. From there, it’s very focused, purposeful, and an important resource for any research related to the world of wine, as it cohesively and historically begins each odyssey for each woman; the who, what, when, and where of it all, into the emergence of women into a traditionally male-dominated world. The farmers grew it and the farmers’ wives stood at the ready to sell it at the end-of-the-driveway farm stand. That’s as close as they got to having some control. For the world of wine; get educated, but expect to stay in the lab as an enologist. Once in, many women wanted more and they managed to have it their way. Following each story, there are similarities and some differences.
After each introduction, bios were revealed, then how they emerged into their chosen field, and that burning question: Each woman was asked about working in a male-dominated field. The character of each woman seems to be just about the same, but not always for the reasons. That’s broken down into unique entries.
Professional Drinking, by Jim Schleckser, is an excellent cornucopia of new insights, chocked full of idiosyncratic nuggets… I really highly recommend it for anyone; from a beginner to anyone studying for a wine certification.
This book isn’t just about wine knowledge. Being a host, which is why this book has been written… Listen up you techie guys with a bank account for entertaining, this is your Cliff Notes book.
There’s more to beverages than just wine, and if you get ahead of the curve, by being well versed in more than wine, and you have a client you’ve taken to dinner, imagine offering an opening cocktail, and knowing just the right one to please everyone. Or, you’re off into a pub, leave the wine behind and know the difference between a lager, an English ale, a wheat beer, or stouts porters. I’m not a beer drinker (allergies), but it’s still fun helping someone make a choice, based on what you know about differing beer characteristics. (I know more than one dry wine pro.)
- The chapter on Champagne… I’ll never be allergic to any sparkling wine, even if I ever am. When wine sparkles, I feel like dancing. Nuf said… Choosing the right one is well documented in Professional Drinking.
- How many times are we asked, “how many bottles should we have for each person at a dinner party?” There are rules of thumb, and this book takes all of the stress away.
- Where are we supposed to cut the foil? I didn’t know this one, either, but I do now. I’ve been thinking I was so chic… Naw, I haven’t been. And now I’ll have no more dripping. Who knew?
What Varietal is That? A Beginners Guide to the Most Important Grape Varieties, written by Darby Higgs, is a great little reference book… something you take with you on trips into wine land places, to keep check of seeing the grape leaves, clusters, and vines, while reading about them and taking notes right then and there. If you still love books, like I do, and you have your own wine library, this book is great to have for any beginners’ adventures, for taking more notes.
Lots of basics here, grape breeding and production, clones and varieties, and critical selection of grape varieties can make or break with what a grape grower is trying to achieve. Why do those varieties matter and what are their styles? Answered within…
Then, Darby Higgs goes into his 40 white wine variety descriptions and his 46 red wine choices. In this text is where you can be standing in a vineyard, and begin your wine education trajectory, with your handy dandy wine guide for “What Varietal is That?” and make forward gains.
Starting out? I do recommend this book… Go for it! The book just might be your new best friend in wine.
Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for featuring this story.