There’s something about reading a story, that is infinitely more fun than studying from a textbook. Not only is it more entertaining, it’s easier to pick up and retain information, at least it is for me.
Today, I’m going to share the best non-textbook reads from my wine library. These are books I’ve read, re-read, and loved, that also helped me learn more about my favourite subject. Even better if they are enjoyed on a comfy couch, with a glass of wine on the side table and a pet at your feet. Enjoy!
Kermit Lynch: Adventures on the Wine Route
I’m starting with my favourite of the bunch, this book was just so much fun to read. Kermit has Personality (with a capital ‘P’), and strong opinions, always good things when it comes to being a protagonist. He’s just released a 25th anniversary edition which I’d recommend, as it follows up on parts of the story. This is a vivid story of an American who falls in love with French wine, determined to make a go of his California wine store. It follows his buying trips through France, and introduces us to some incredible characters in the vineyards and wineries of the Rhone, Burgundy and Loire.
Tilar Mazzeo: The Widow Clicquot
This is the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, who came of age in the aftermath of the French revolution, and inherited a wine business as a young widow. For those who have an interest in women in business, or the history of Champagne, this will be captivating. This is a woman who changed the world of my favourite beverage; I don’t think Champagne would be what it is today without her.
Lawrence Osborne: The Accidental Connoisseur
This is a funny book, as in it made me laugh out loud funny. It’s from the perspective of an irreverent outsider falling into the wine world. Lawrence takes us into the most incredible scenes, a private lunch with Mondavi, to vineyards in the Northern Rhone, plus commentary on Parker’s nose. It’s a sceptic’s perspective, and he’s not afraid to skewer sacred wine cows.
Jancis Robinson: Tasting Pleasure (Confessions of a Wine Lover)
The word that comes to mind when I think of Jancis, is erudite. She’s a Master of Wine, and also a very prolific writer. This was one of the first wine books I ever read, and I loved it. She takes us behind the scenes to some of the most incredible places, with big names, in the wine world. It tells her story of going from a university student to a famous wine writer, and it’s eminently readable. If you want to be inspired, read this.
Elin McCoy: The Emperor of Wine (The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr,. and the Reign of American Taste)
If you’ve ever wondered why we use a point scale to score wine, or why people refer to “Parker” as a pejorative, this is the book for you. Love his taste or hate it, Parker has completely changed the way wine is made around the world. I remember while I was first getting into wine study, hearing Parker had claimed to remember every wine he’d ever tasted. That’s either hubris, or a man who’d make a fascinating subject for a book. This is a peek into the world of a famous wine critic, and it’s a thrill to read.