I frequently am asked for advice by those looking to learn more about wine. They want to know which wine books they should purchase for their home libraries. This makes sense, as there are any number of worthy authors out there who have written at length about all kinds of subjects relating to wine. People want a short list of the important books, and they often turn to me for that list, assuming for some reason that I am well read. What I have decided to do is to post the list of important wine books here, on my blog, so that I may just refer people to the link in the future, and thus by so doing, subtly intimate to these people that no one buys physical books anymore.
So without further ado, this is my listing, given in no particular order of preference, of my very favorite books about wine.
This insightful text on wine collecting is a must read for any budding wine enthusiast. The Sneetches are a species of Cabernet, and some of the Sneetches are born with "100" on their bellies, while others are not. The desire for the 100 sign on a belly greatly preoccupies the Sneetch culture, as it also defines the Sneetch social hierarchy.
The story of the narrator's long search for a good blind taster. Repeatedly the narrator is frustrated by those who identify the mystery wine as a Hat DOC, when it is in actuality a Boa Constrictor That Has Swallowed An Elephant DOCG. Finally, the narrator is heartened to find an excellent, intuitive blind taster, a little boy who can not only discern the Provencal AOC of Box, but also identify the specific commune of Box-Holding-A-Sheep-Inside. Later there is a lot of talk about planets and stars and flowering times.
Which follows the many tasting exploits of the famous Master Sommelier Sherlock Holmes. Holmes frequently reminds his protege Dr. Watson to fill in all of the tasting boxes, explaining that this is the key to deducing the mystery at hand. One of my favorite passages involves Holmes deducing the origins of a unknown banker. "It's elementary, my dear Watson" says Holmes, to the amazement of the doctor, "this banker is from New Zealand, and his name is Sauvignon Blanc!"
This is still the benchmark work on Natural Wine and the Natural Wine Movement. With this book, Sendak explored some of the rituals most associated with Natural Wine, such as burying the cow horn and staring at yellow eyes without blinking once. Sendak also showed for the first time that many of the prominent Natural Wine Growers dance a wild rumpus by moonlight, something that is common knowledge today, but which was rarely talked about before the arrival of this key text.
The story of a dog named Clifford the California Pinot Noir, which although it was once a runt, grew and grew and grew, to hugely gigantic proportions. Clifford the California Pinot Noir grows so big that he is hard to accomodate around the dinner table of his home.
This classic book explores the origins of many now common phenomena, such as how the Leopard got its Spots, and also how the Camel got its Hump. An often overlooked chapter, which is my particular favorite in the book, explains how the Ribolla got its Orange. A treasure trove of reliable wine related information.
An extended look at the Biodynamic Calendar and the concept of "Root Days," those rotten days when even the finest wines fail to show well.
A spirited defense of Brettanomyces in wine. Includes lots of cute drawings!
Like all the best sommeliers, Curious George began his career as a dishwasher.