Favourite wine books

Posted on: 14th January, 2019

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

I was reading in my Sunday newspaper that books about Brexit are flying off the shelves in the United Kingdom. Another topic that appears to be flourishing in the shops appears to be all things associated with the appreciation of wine. Pocket guides, wine atlases, wine and food matching books – the choice is almost bewildering.

My own collection of wine books now compete with my beloved travel guides for space on the shelves. It grew considerably this Christmas, (easy for people shopping for someone known as a ‘wine buff’!)

Let’s start with the pocket guides. Issued annually, my two favourites are Hugh Johnson’s and Oz Clarke’s. The former is well detailed, authoritative, and reliable. The latter is just a bit more lighthearted while still passionate and comprehensive and so is my go-too reference book.

At the other end of the scale would be Oz Clark’s massive Wine Atlas, which contains panoramic maps of all the great wine regions. Another, more recent publication, Oz Clarke’s ‘World of Wine’, is a bit more accessible than the Atlas while still managing to give an great insight, as he takes us on ‘a grand tour’ of the great wine regions of the world.

I wonder was my son in Seattle trying to tell me something when he sent me ‘Stuff Every Wine Snob Should Know’ and I was just prepared for a laugh, then I noticed that it is written by a Master Sommelier and has simple and clear explanations on topics like the merits of hand picked grapes in the wine making process over machine harvesting… (the latter cannot distinguish between ‘good grapes’ and ‘bad grapes’…).

Along with the aforementioned, my Christmas stocking contained ‘Wine Trails of Italy’, A Michelin Guide detailing 125 different itineraries around the beautiful wine producing regions of Italy including tips on wineries with lodging etc. A travel guide and wine guide in one book, what a great idea. As if I needed encouragement!

Very nice neighbours gave us a copy of Fiona Beckett’s ‘Wine Lover’s Kitchen’, which is full of recipes for cooking with wine. The Pork, Pancetta and Polpettine in White Wine is proving to be a favourite, although this book has settled down in Clare’s equally impressive collection of cookbooks, as opposed to my wine books collection.

Finally the book I’m most looking forward to settling down and having a good read of, is Oz Clarke, (again!) ‘Red and White’. Easy to spot on the shelves, (it is, well, red and white…), this is kind of an autobiography of the great wine writer’s life, told through his experiences travelling the wine regions of the world, It is a big read, (some 600 pages) and comes with a recommendation from Victoria Moore which I love, ‘It’s good enough to read in bed…’

Knowing more about the ‘story’ of the wine you are drinking can definitely improve your enjoyment, and with the myriad choice of wine books available it has never been easier or more fun to learn that particular story.

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