Generally speaking, wine lovers enjoy receiving two things for Christmas: gadgets and books.
Books are knowledge, and that is what we crave most. Here are 11 books published this year, any of which would make a superb gift for the wine lover on your Christmas list.
“Extreme Wine,” $25: Mike Veseth, a retired University of Puget Sound economics professor, follows up his popular “Wine Wars” (2011), with this look at “the best, the worst, the outrageously cheap, the insanely overpriced and the undiscovered” wines. Veseth writes The Wine Economist blog.
“The Essential Scratch &Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert,” $20: This is my candidate for the most original and enjoyable book of the year. Master sommelier Richard Betts put together this book that not only explains wine, but he also provides the aromas for you to try out. A perfect book for every wine lover, from novice to snob.
“Celebrity Vineyards,” $35: If you are curious about wineries owned by people who are famous for reasons other than wine, writer Nick Wise provides insights. He travels the world to explore wines made by Hollywood types (Francis Ford Coppola, Dan Aykroyd, Fess Parker), the world of sports (Dick Vermeil, Mario Andretti, Wayne Gretzky) and the music scene (composer Ludovico Einaudi, Doobie Brothers manager Bruce Cohn).
“Uncorked, the Science of Champagne,” $25: Author Gerard Liger-Belair, a physics professor at the University of Reims, explores the science behind the world’s most famous bubbly. He also dives into the myths and truths about sparkling wine, as well as its history and technology.
“Pinot Envy,” $22: Canadian wine writer Edward Finstein (The Wine Doctor) has penned an enjoyable yarn about a stolen bottle of famous Burgundy. The story is set in California’s Napa Valley and Bay Area. Those who enjoy Nadia Gordon’s Sunny McCoskey mysteries (“Death by the Glass,” “Sharp Shooter,” “Murder Alfresco” and “Lethal Vintage”) will likely get a kick out of Finstein’s book, too.
“The New California Wine,” $35: Jon Bonne, wine editor at the San Francisco Chronicle (and former Seattle-based wine journalist) has written a book that is bound to be controversial in the country’s largest wine-producing state. He takes on the status quo and explores the wines and wineries he finds most interesting — that is, those producing wines that emphasize style and elegance over power. It offers many great insights into California’s often-overwhelming wine industry.
“WineTrails of Washington,” 2nd edition, $25: The most popular book on Washington wine ever written is back with twice as many wineries packed into 640 pages. Steve Roberts has rewritten the essential book on Washington wine touring.
Hugh Johnson’s “Pocket Wine Book 2014,” $16: Expect a huge dose of information about the Old World (Europe) as well as a fair bit about the New World in this annual pocket guide from one of the world’s leading experts on wine.
World Atlas of Wine, 7th edition, $55: British authors Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson gang up to produce this gorgeously illustrated reference book that rivals anything written on the subject. This is the perfect coffee table book for serious wine lovers.
“Bordeaux Legends,” $55: Written by Jane Anson, this book explores what arguably are the five greatest wineries in the world: the five First Growths of Bordeaux. Anson, a wine educator and journalist, explores the 500-year history of Chateaux Haut-Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Mouton Rothschild and how they managed to climb atop the wine world.
“Adventures on the Wine Route,” 25th anniversary edition, $28: California importer Kermit Lynch’s classic wine literature gets a refresh after a quarter-century as one of the quintessential books about French wine. This is truly a delight to read, as Lynch’s anecdotes from traveling through France searching for the great and unusual provide wonderful insight into this business.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.