We all know that the day after Thanksgiving can only mean two things: turkey sandwiches and the start of the holiday shopping season. Making a turkey sandwich is easy. Trying to figure out what to give the wine lover in your life takes a bit more thought.
Of course, wine is the obvious choice, but buying wine can be tricky unless you know what wine your recipient favors, and cork screws are the proverbial neckties of the wine world.
For my money, books are the way to go. They’re perfect for the novice as well as the old pro and they can be used over and over again without having to replace a single cork. Best of all, you can ship books to any state and they won’t break!
Here is a collection of books that should satisfy the intellectual palate of any wine, beer and spirits lover in your life.
When I first got interested in wine, my bible was Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine Course. Today, Zraly’s Complete Wine Course 2012 Edition is the new standard. Before you jump directly into his eight wine classes (not glasses), be sure to read the first chapter “Prelude to Wine” and then skip to page 249 and read “The Physiology of Tasting Wine”. When sipping your way through the book, notice the factoids written on the white space of the chapter as well as the questions at the end of each chapter. And make sure you sample your way through the chapter on “Best Value List: $30 and Under.” $28
My favorite book this year is 1000 Great Everyday Wines From the World’s Best Wineries, Editor-in-Chief Jim Gordon. It is researched and written by a group of wine writers who catalog, by country, their top value wines. For example, one recommendation from France includes a second label wine by a renowned chateau. A recommendation from California highlights the Franco-American paring between the Perrin’s (Southern Rhone) and Haas’ (Central California) Tablas Creek venture. And wines from emerging wine regions, such as Israel, are a treat to learn about. This book provides a lot of bottle for the buck. Only $25!
The long and colorful history of the winemaking industry of Argentina is chronicled in The Vineyard at the End of the World by Ian Mount. This historical accounting dates back approximately 600 years and continues through to modern times, recounting the evolution of the winemaking industry, including the integration of French and American winemakers’ influences on the industry. The political clime of Argentinean history provides an interesting backdrop during the industry’s developmental timeline. $27
If you’re looking for a good, solid reference guide, then the Beverage Basics Understanding and Appreciating Wine, Beer, and Spirits by Robert W. Small and Michelle Couturier is an excellent choice. Think introductory textbook for Wine, Beer, and Spirits 101. The chapters are easy to navigate, have adequate white space for your annotations, and offer classic food pairing suggestions for each grape varietal. The appendices are particularly useful and provide a wealth of consolidated information in tables and charts for easy reference. $65
If the current economic situation has you staying close to home this year, then pick up a copy of Saint-Emilion: The Chateaux, Winemakers, and Landscapes of Bordeaux’s Famed Wine Region by Beatrice Massenet, Emmanuelle Ponsan-Dantin and Francois Querre and take a virtual trip to France’s most famous wine region. Open a bottle of your favorite Bordeaux wine, curl up with this book and take a vicarious journey to 70 famed Bordeaux houses, such as Chateau Cheval Blanc and Ang