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Can You Recommend A Good Wine Book?


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I have a friend who is an emerging oenophile to whom I would like to give a gift. What I was hoping for--and wouldn't know how to begin actually searching for--is a fun and colorful book about wine, wine enthusiasts, the wine industry, its significant historical figures or issues, or all of the above. My friend would love something that lends, or pretends to lend, an insider's perspective. In this case, grit, color, and readability are more important than masterful writing.

I am wide open to your suggestions.

Thanks, y'all.

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When I was first getting serious about wine, and for quite a while afterward, I got great mileage out of Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible. At its heart, it's a reference book with sections on grape varieties, winemaking, wine & food pairing, and all of the major regions (slightly outdated but only from a true geek's perspective.)

But it's an engaging read, easy to follow and colorful- a tough feat to pull off when writing about the nuts and bolts of wine. There are lots of interesting asides and cute anecdotes as well.

ETA: jparrot's suggestions are all great ones as well. Adventures on the Wine Route is a classic from one of America's most influential wine icons.

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If your friend is at all interested in the winemaking process, and what makes a wine taste like it does, I recommend "Backyard Vintner," by Jim Law of Linden Vineyards in Virginia. It's written for the home winemaker, but from the perspective of a commercial winemaker, with the idea of "Here's what you do if you want your wine to taste like ...

It is much more informative and interesting than the usual "how a wine is made" type of book. No gossip about the industry, though. For that, you want James Conaway's books on Napa or Paul Lukacs' "American Vintage" - a nice history of wine in America, and now out in paperback.

ETA: Hear, hear on "Adventures on the Wine Route" by Kermit Lynch. You might even be a cheapskate and just sign your friend up for Lynch's newsletter from his store, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, in Berkeley, Calif. Good reading every month.

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I always ran to "Wine Lover's Companion", the sister book to "Food Lover's Companion". It's not colorful, it's a dictionary, paperback size, and chock full of tons and tons of cross-referenced basics, with kickin appendices in the back. Come to think of it, I need to buy one for myself since i'm not able to grap (and misplace) TP's from his desk anymore. I never lost it permanently, I swear!!! :angry:

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Thanks, everyone, for your recommendations. Here's what I ended up purchasing, and I look forward to borrowing a few of the titles to read myself:

1. The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, Julia Flynn Siler

2. Matt Kramer's New California Wine: Making Sense of Napa Valley, Sonoma, Central Coast, and Beyond, Matt Kramer

3. The World's Greatest Wine Estates: A Modern Perspective, Robert M. Parker

4. The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., and the Reign of American Taste (P.S.), Elin McCoy

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In the Wine for Dummies vein, I like anything by Oz Clarke. When I was breathtakingly ignorant about wine as opposed to my current status of simpleton, it was a non-threatening introduction to an arcane world.

the book titled " TERROIR" is great for a look at true topography and soil compostiions and climate, with history,, or also the stevenson books, like a guide to champagne is awesome

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Wilson's Terroir is an excellent study, but I find it more useful as a reference book than as something to read on its own. I find it lacking in wine content/organoleptic analysis, choosing instead to focus solely on soil/site/weather (the author's specialty) and allow the reader to make his own taste analogies.

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