I spend a lot of time with my head in wine books. I rarely read for fun per se, but I possess a constant thirst, an ever present curiosity to search for something new to fill my glass with, whilst topping up my rudimentary knowledge of the wine world. Absorbing different opinions and experiences of the beautiful industry we occupy is a great pleasure. I wanted to share with you the books I have learnt the most from, that have inspired my wine journey, and have conjured up incredible bottles to enjoy.
The Vineyards of Britain: Cellar Door Adventures with the Best of Britain's Wines
by Ed Dallimore
The first book is a very personal recommendation; a book that I was incredibly privileged to be a fly on the wall throughout its writing. Ed has helped me to connect with so many wonderful people in wine, and many bottles have been shared as a result. The book travels across Britain, telling the stories of the vineyards that inhibit it. Each vineyard is mindbogglingly different, from the styles of wine, to the people tending to the land. Ed documents this incredibly well. Dallimore's talented photography is also a joy to behold, present throughout the book, providing an inherently personable feel. The definitive English wine guide.
£19.99 via https://59vines.com
Hugh Johnson on Wine: Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling
by Hugh Johnson
Johnson is a historian and journalist by trade, and has even written books on gardening. His takes on wine are thus presented from the perspective of an avid enthusiast, not as an expert or at a level one could present oneself following decades of experience and countless writing awards. Modern wine journalists do not share his incredible level of humility. I particularly enjoy Johnson's wittiness, which is the same in person I can testify; the authentic and natural understanding that wine is inherently personal, and should be reflected on paper as such. A lighthearted compilation of excerpts from as far back as the 60s. Besides from elegant prose, I find this book an incredibly interesting and easy read, captivated by the trends that have dominated the wine industry for decades. The guide appears timeless, with surprising and poetic anecdotes.
£13.59 via https://www.abebooks.co.uk/
Wine Folly: Magnum Edition
by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
I will waste no time in saying if you're starting out in wine, this is the ultimate wine book for you. It helped me forge an important understanding of principle grape varieties, their characters when grown in different regions, and the very fundamental knowledge needed to decipher any wine list or wine bottle. Brilliantly designed and easily digestible information marks this reference guide among the best.
£30 via Waterstones
Making Sense of Wine
by Matt Kramer
A book for people that don't want to embark on any type of traditional or formal wine qualifications. Kramer outlines in detail what the liquid that swirls around our mouth actually is, how to expertly store and collect wine, it's beautiful and longstanding history, and how to make sense of it all. It's dangerous territory to suggest that there must be etiquette alongside the enjoying of wine, but Kramer seems to dance around the subject, whilst being informative and relatively lighthearted. I particularly enjoy his criticism of criticism, and the judging of wines. Kramer explains that time after time, the same styles of wines are given the best scores, for nuance cannot be taken into account when there is a flight of 40, 50+ wines. Our palates become tired, as do our minds and imaginations following the plethora of gold medals received by Aussie Shiraz and Napa Cabernet.
£5.95 via Amazon (Urgh, sorry. I did look for independents. Abe Books the best bet...)
by Jane Anson
This is the most comprehensive guide to Bordelaise wine culture and history, and I was like a child at Christmas when I received a copy. An extensive reference guide to Bordelaise wine culture, politics and history. Anson provides an incredible insight to the city and wine region that has become a stronghold in the world's wine industry. The book contains Château appraisals, detailed regional geography sections, vintage guides and tells us of the wines we really should be drinking from the region.
£60 via Berry Brothers
I Drink, Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine
by Roger Scruton
With a personal interest in philosophy, this book was immediately intriguing. I found Scruton's words endearing, his approach to wine and its inherent social capacity fascinating. There are a number of useful recommendations, for which I have scoured the internet in search of, and tales of wine (with friends) that have left my tastebuds envious. The book certainly falls into the trap of self indulgence, embarking on a path suggesting wine is a virtuous method of intoxication. I am not so sure I agree wholeheartedly, but, the tendency towards the theatrical and the verbose allows each turn of the page to possess charm.
£12 via Roger Scruton
Making Sense of Burgundy
by Matt Kramer
Another in Kramer's 'Making sense of' series, and ludicrously hard to come by in the UK. Abe Books has a few American copies, and it's well worth the wait. For a wine lover, I don't gravitate towards Burgundy, and I used this book as a gateway drug into the mysterious realm. I must say, it didn't woo me into becoming a Burgundy fanatic like so many collectors are, but the fundamental understanding gained of the confusing array of villages and single vineyards fought over by producers was second to none. A must for anyone with a vague interest in Burgundy.
Naturally, these books are all hard copies. There is nothing more refreshing than the feeling of turning a page after a day of emails and SEO work. However, if you're reading tendency takes you towards reading online, then I can wholeheartedly recommend the writing of Eric Asimov and the world of Jon Bonné. Both provide writing of an incredible standard, with equally exceptional palates and a humble nature to match.