All books are good, but some are good enough to nourish the better part of taste – understanding. While 1989 was a great vintage for wine books and Bordeaux, it was a superlative year for daughters.
Vintage, the Story of Wine by Hugh Johnson (1989) is just that – the story of wine. Mr. Johnson portrays the insightful role of the storyteller with information, history, wine personalities, lore, science, fascinating sidebars and clear prose.
Plain Talk About Fine Wine – by Justin Meyer (1989) is the slimmest, most authentic wine book I have ever read. The verbiage is of a different time, but the message rings as clear as a bell – enjoy the wine.
Windows on the World Wine Course by Kevin Zraly (updated biannually) remains the finest educative book in print. Usefully and pragmatically sectioned, the organization of each section is based around questions that we all ask about different topics in the wine world. The beauty of the book rests in its clear, concise and faithfully accurate answers.
Vintage Timecharts by Jancis Robinson (1989) is out of print, as is the specific information listed inside; however, the lingering power of the insights of this book keep informing decisions based on vintage character and longevity of current releases. Despite much coaxing, Mrs. Robinson would rather move ahead than re-make glories of the past.
The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay (2018) is written for readers in the ‘biz and for readers who REALLY want to be. Its title is its insides. Focusing on regions and winegrowers around France, Italy, Austria, Germany and Spain the insights offered are the details of cultural, gustatory and situational aspects of these regions’ wines and their unique differences from across the road and across regions and countries.
Drink: A Social History of America by Andrew Barr (1989) provides insight and the perspective necessary to fully grasp the role of liquor, beer and wine in the culture of these United States.
Making Sense of Wine by Matt Kramer (updated 2003) remains a paragon of wine wisdom in the 21st Century. Like Terry Theise below, Mr. Kramer’s lucid explanations of complex ideas invites re-reading every year or so.
Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch (1988, updated 2013) documents Mr. Lynch’s travels and travails across France learning the language of wine, culture and hospitality.
Reading Between the Wines by Terry Theise (2010) like Matt Kramer’s Making Sense of Wine remains one of the most poetic defenses of great attention to the flavor, process and appreciation of wine. Where Kramer is more pugnacious, Theise is more impressionistic; both are masterfully communicative.
Wine Folly, The Master Guide by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammacher (2018) Visual, non-linear, and flagrantly communicative, this book bridges wine to wine drinkers old and young (but not too young). The authors’ insatiable curiosity about all things wine is only surpassed by their eye for informational design. This is a book that shows off a deep knowledge of wine in a funformational format.
There are many worthwhile authors that I have yet to add, and I always love recommendations.
Additionally, the following periodicals appeal to a wine industry perspective:
Decanter – published out of the UK with the most informative and influential contributors in the world. The news updates are best from the online version, as always, but the depth of coverage between the pages is enormous. This is a magazine that is bigger on the inside than the outside.
Sommelier Journal – published from the U.S. with a range of features from specific locales like Denver to appealing educational content from around the globe. Studying for certification is easier with this periodical resource in all areas of tasting, theory and service.
Wines and Vines – published out of the U.S. with a focus that analyzes trends and data from the firm of Gomberg Fredrikson, the articles range from sales to education to networking in the wine and spirits industries.