by Tania Tomaszewska –
People often ask me for book recommendations when they want to learn
more (on their own time and own terms) about what they’re sipping, how to
analyze that drop or about the wide world of wine generally.
So here are just a few ideas to pair with your “curling up by the fire” vino.
Already crushed these reads? Then drop me a line at tania@ttwineexplorer
and we’ll take your list to the next level!
Memoirs, Investigative & Historical
Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass (Natalie MacLean). A candid and witty look by this Canadian award-winning wine writer behind the scenes in the fine wine world (including vignettes on burgundy, champagne, Riedel wine glasses and influential wine critics). Humorous and real.
Shadows in the Vineyard (Maximillian Potter). Another true investigative story – this one about the anonymous threat made to Burgundy’s DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) in 2010 to destroy their famous vines, which are considered to make the world’s finest wine. Sting operations and “botanical” crime.
The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine (Benjamin Wallace). A bottle of 1787 Château Lafite, thought to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson, was sold at auction in 1985 for $156,000. But what’s the provenance of that bottle? Parisian cellar? Secret Nazi bunker? Elaborate con? You don’t need to know anything about wine to get pulled into this true story detective thriller.
Cork Dork (Bianca Bosker). One of my absolute favourites. A fast-moving memoir about this journalist’s one-year “crash course” foray into the intense world of sommeliers, starting as a “cellar rat” and working her way to the floor of NYC’s famed Eleven Madison Park restaurant. For beginners and cork dorks alike.
Wine & War (Don and Petie Kladstrup). An inspiring historical account about French vignerons during World War II and how they tried to save their wine and way of life whilst living under the Vichy regime.
A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles). Historical fiction not exclusively about wine, but beautiful bottles make cameos during this intriguing story set in Moscow during World War One and the Russian Revolution.
Wine Travel, Education & Reference Tools
The World Atlas of Wine (Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson). A “must have” if you like looking up anything about a grape, style or wine producing region in the world. I consult this “wine bible” regularly.
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine (Madeline Puckette & Justin Hammack). Another “go to” reference tool to learn about grapes, their flavours and how they express themselves in different parts of the world. Complexity made clear and accessible through great graphics. Check out www.winefolly.com for their highly informative blog.
The Okanagan Wine Tour Guide (2020 edition) (John Schreiner & Luke Whittall). Want to learn more about a specific winery in B.C.’s interior? This guide lists most of them alphabetically and includes background information about each winery’s story, owners and the wines for which they’re known. I always take this one on the road!
Wine Geek Territory
The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste (Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay). A deep dive into specific European wine regions to get a close-up view of select producers and to experience the sense of place from which great “Old World” wines come.
Godforsaken Grapes (Jason Wilson). About grapes which most of us have never heard of! But this book is not opaque nor pretentious – just the opposite. An accessible journey into the world of hunting down obscure and under-appreciated wines. It’s about travel, history, colourful personalities, trends and geopolitics – and how those things have fashioned the wine we drink (or don’t drink). The title? A hint: It’s derived from comments made by renowned wine critic Robert Parker Jr.