There's a time to drink, a time to think and time to combine both of these marvelous things. Welcome to a breakdown of some of the best books of the year on wine. From funny to educational, if you're a wine lover these books should be on your list. The best thing is, you can read with a glass of wine in hand.
We'll start with the heavy hitter that's not even out yet. And by heavy, I mean it. It supposedly weighs seven pounds. Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz (November 6, 2012) You know its serious when one of the authors writes for the Financial Times and The World Atlas of Wine is also one of Jancis Robinson's titles. Her co-author Jose Vouillamoz is a botanist. That's right, this book has some serious credentials. The authors establish genetic links between grape varietals, cover the synonyms and names for all types of wine and apparently it also includes an impressive collection of illustrations. A relatively serious book, but a must for any die hard.
For several years, James Nevison's "Had a Glass" series has provided a guide to inexpensive wine options and it also recommends ways to evaluating a wine's color, clarity, aroma and bouquet. The book also comes complete with labels and barcodes so that you shop for your favorites easily. Had a Glass 2013: Top 100 Wines Under $20 (Paperback, October 16, 2012) is not the most sophisticated of manuals but this book is likely a must have for your wine library each year, so it also makes a great holiday gift for those of you getting an early start.
Twenty dollars too much? The Wine Trials 2012 by Robin Goldstein, Alexis Herschkowitsch and Tyce Walters (September 1, 2012) has more wines (175 to be exact) and they are all under $15! Goldstein has contributed to the blog Freakonomics so you know you're getting what you pay for. It seems the series began in 2008 with taste tests from wine in paper bags. Cataloged are now the apparently shocking results that some of the cheap stuff was pretty good.
New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov aids those looking to appreciate wine more with his grounded guide, How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto by Eric Asimov (Hardcover, October 16, 2012) It opens with "Does the world really need another book about wine?" revaling a honestness that's hard to come by. At one point he humously discusses the "swirling technique," a moment that displays years spent at wine tastings. Seemingly, Asimov has succeeded in his aim to lift the veil on the mystery of choosing the right wine for the right time and in sharing knowledge on how to love wine!
The yet to be released The Pleasantness of Wine: The Method of Tasting by Luca Maroni (Paperback November 16, 2012) concentrates on a tasting method the author created in 1995, which is presented in a scientific way. "Basic Axiom: Wine is pleasant when its taste recalls in a true way (Consistent, balanced, integer) the taste of the fruit from which it has been obtained." The author has tasted over 123,000 different wines and if you're on the move, he also has a tasting app for your mobile devices. This is another book which attempts to break down jargon so that "anyone" can begin to learn more about how to taste wine but also seems to be anticipated by many experienced wine connoisseurs.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.