Great new wine books for Book Lovers Day
Remember those Summer Reading Lists from Grade School? I loved them, so much in fact, that I was through the list before the first month of summer was over. I had a favorite reading spot in the woods in the ravine that ran along the side of our yard—a large moss covered boulder, flat on the top. It was never hot down there and always in dappled shade. I usually had a jar of watered down kool-aid balanced beside me.
I still love a summer’s day of reading, but in a softer chair, and instead of kool aid, a glass of chilled rosé or a glass of summer white or sangria over ice. The books have changed, too, from biographies of childhood heroes and imaginary worlds to dreams of food and wine.
Here’s my suggested reading list:
About to come out, Wine Folly, the new Magnum Edition. This is coming out to rave reviews in early September! The new edition of this informative and delightful book is coming out with the same light-hearted and amusing illustrations as the ones that make her website so accessible. Author Madeleine Puckett loves wine, and wants to put everyone else as at ease with it as she is. She quickly and painlessly makes sense of wine grape varieties, of origins, and growing conditions, and seeing and pairings. Get on her Website, her Facebook Page. Watch her Youtube chats.
Wine: All the Time: The Casual Guide to Easy Drinking is written by another wonderfully unpretentious woman, Marissa Ross, who is crazy about wine and wants to make it a joyful experience for all. Like Wine Folly, it is an easy read, full of humor and really useful wine advice.
Wine is supposed to make you happy, to help you relax and enjoy life. No one should be daunted by the wine on a wine list or in a wine shop. No one should be worried about what to serve winey friends or what to give a wine geeky boss for Boss’s Day. Wine writer Jon Bonne has put together a neat little book of The New Wine Rules, sayings designed to make things simple.
Or, on the other hand, if you prefer a detailed 900 page compendium, something you can jump around in and pick and choose what you want to study, get a hold of Karen McNeil’s The Wine Bible, a well-organized armchair trip through the wine regions of the world, entertaining and full of information on food, wine, and culture, with maps and photos.
For a gossipy romp through the strange world of professional and amateur wine folk, a bit in the tone of Bourdais’s early books on the backrooms of restaurant life, try Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste.
If you want something mystical and poetic, read wine importer Terry Theise’s book Reading Between the Wines, a passionate tribute to wine, the land it grows on and the people who make it. Reading this book is a great time to get acquainted with some of the most beautiful of all wines—the Rieslings of Germany!
Or if you want to experience a similar visual tribute, look for these two documentaries: The Year in Burgundy or The Year in Champagne. Either one enjoyed with a glass of Champagne of a glass of red or white Burgundy!
Are you a history buff and a lover of the grape? Try this World War II cliff hanger: Wine and the War: The French, The Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure Don and Petie Kladstrup. Clever French Vintners found ways of hiding their precious wines from the plundering Germans of Occupied France. Many of those vintages survived in family cellars to be tasted in recent times.
Or read about how the small unknown Napa winery, Chateau Montelena, that produced a Chardonnay that won in a blind tasting competition against some of the greatest French Burgundies. Read George Taber’s book: Judgment of Paris. California Versus France and the 1976 Tasting That Changed the World. If you haven’t seen the movie Bottle Shock, a fictionalized telling of this same story, get together with friends, serve chilled bottles of Montelena and some buttery popcorn and watch it. Alan Rickman is wonderful as the stuffy British French wine worshipper, Steven Spurrier.
Are you interested in Science? Here is one of my recent favorite reads: Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine by Kevin Begos. This is absolutely fascinating, a blend of science, history, and physiology.
Writing Food and Wine
Let wine and food writers inspire you to start your own wine and foodie and memoirs. I discovered a gem in our local bookstore a couple of weeks ago by Shauna Niequist, called Bread & Wine: A love Letter to Life round the Table with Recipes. It is a reminder of the table as the center of life and community, of food and wine as sacrament, as symbols of hospitality, as repositories of memory. Each of Nyquist’s brief chapters focusses on an experience and ends with a related recipe. And this offers a neat recipe for you to start your own notebook of food and wine memoirs.
How to get started.
- Get a notebook or journal that you really like, get a pen that you love to write with. Or , if you are a keyboard writer, go to your computer.
- Start this possibly lifelong activity with a simple list of things to write about. Go to the local market or grocery store for inspiration. Let the smell of fresh strawberries evoke a memory of picking strawberries in the sun as a child, or smelling your mom making strawberry jam. In the store, walk through the produce section and remember how much you hated the smell of cooking Brussel Sprouts, or walk the cereal aisle and try to remember your favorite breakfast cereal.
- Keep the list going with just little reminders of what you could write about—no longer than Twitter length. Worst Thing I Ever Ate, Secret Junk Food Treat, and Thanksgiving when Crazy Uncle Came, Christmas Eve Food Tradition, School Lunch, First sip of wine, and so on… Once you have a good starting list of 30 or so things you could write about, you will never be able to say, “But I don’t have anything to write about!” Keep adding to your list even after you have knuckled down to flesh out stories.
- Choose a routine writing time of 15 minutes to a half hour a 3 or 4 times a week. Get a glass of wine. Get away from people. When you sit down to write, pick something from your list, and just start to write as fast as you can, only stopping to take a sip of the wine you have chosen for the writing ritual. Stop when your time is up, even if you haven’t finished. In fact, leaving a piece of writing open-ended makes it easier to pick up and move on.
About Roz: During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.
Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.