I’m a big reader – there are always 2-3 (more like 4-5) books on the go on my night table. There are magazines and another couple of books in the bathroom, on the coffee table and always one in my gym bag (sometimes it takes me a little longer to read that one). because I never know when I’ll have a few minutes or 20. After I took a wine class, the need and desire to learn more about what I’m drinking has led to a growing wine collection – not just the text book variety which, I learned the hard way, are always required to weigh at least 10 kgs. Here are some fun and fast favourites that are worth making their way to a reading spot near you.
Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert by Lettie Teague
If you love movies and love wine – this book is fun quick read by Lettie Teague who writes a terrific column for the Wall Street Journal. She takes on the challenge of teaching the elements of wine to Peter Travers (no relation), the long-time film critic for Rolling Stone magazine whose favourite wine is a flabby Chardonnay. This is not wine school. This is a fun ride through varietals, regions, peppered with analogies to movies and movie makers. It won’t change your life, but it will have you wishing to have Lettie Teague as a teacher when you look at the wines they sampled together – simple little bottles from the $599 Harlan Estate to a $4000 bottle of Screaming Eagle. And where else would you find out what Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese and Peter Jackson pick from the wine list?
Red, White and Drunk All Over by Natalie Maclean
Now I LOVED this book. Natalie Maclean, Queen of www.nataliemaclean.com, takes you on a journey of her wine experiences while making you lust after some of her stops along the way. COME ON, she tours Domaine Romanee Conte – which ONLY produces one of (if not THE) greatest Burgundies of all time with owner Aubert de Villaine. She spends a few days in the fields with one of California’s most colourfull wine makers Randall Grahm – founder of Booy Doon Wines. He describes himself as a vinarchist and “champion of the ugly-duckling grapes” which is one of the reasons he became known as a Rhone Ranger. And that’s just the first two chapters. What I really liked about this book, is Maclean’s approachable style. Each chapter is a great experience with lots of information thrown in. It is educational – but not dull or intimidating in any way. Honestly, by a few pages in you just wanted to be riding shotgun on that adventure.
A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine by Jay McInerney
Jay McInerney exploded on to the bestseller list (and on to my night table) with Bright Lights, Big City in 1984. Now one of my go-to sites on Saturday morning is the Wall Street Journal where he writes a wine column. There’s nothing stuffy about this collection of essays from McInerney’s days as a wine columnist for House and Garden magazine. McInerney blends his extensive wine knowledge with his ability to tell a great story. It’s so well written that there are descriptions imprinted in my memory. Who else would describe the notoriously difficult Pinot Noir Grape as ” the source of more heartbreak and tears than country music radio “? His essays take you around the world: from the most modest wine store – where the writer was first exposed to the joy of wine to a restaurant table in Italy for a chat with Angelo Gaja – one of the greatest
living wine makers. It’s no wonder Salon has called McInerney, the best wine writer in the U-S.
There are so many more great wine books out there. And coming soon will be a few suggestions on books about wine pairings (a couple are still on the night table). But just writing about these ones has made me want to read them all over again!