Reading Between the Wines

Is it overkill to read about wine while enjoying a glass of it? Not in my book!

I am a wine lover.  I am also a reader.  Put the two together and I am in heaven. Yes, I’m a bit of a wine nerd, and I’ve read my fair share of wine books - from heavy, encyclopedic tomes outlining the grapes and regions of the world to humorous, autobiographical accounts told by well-known wine personalities.

Books and wine

Books and wine

One of my favourite wine books is George Taber's The Judgment of Paris (2005), an eyewitness account of the seminal 1976 tasting that shook the foundations of the wine world. Many wine lovers will know the basic story - a modern-day “David” (small unknown Californian wineries) pitted against “Goliath” (some of the grandest Bordeaux Châteaux) in a blind tasting in Paris. I won’t tell you the outcome – don’t want to spoil it for you! But you might be able to figure it out.

George Taber, the only reporter present, wrote a four paragraph article for Time Magazine that many claim was the single most significant news article ever written about wine. In his book, he provided a thought-provoking discourse on the globalization of wine triggered by the earlier legendary tasting.

Next - wine fraud. Fake wine has been in the headlines recently (Rudy Kurniawan, anyone?) but the practice of forging wine is as old as making wine itself. Benjamin Wallace’s The Billionaire’s Vinegar is a classic tale. The bottle in question, a 1787 Château Lafite from Bordeaux, made history when it sold for more than $150,000 at auction in 1985. At the time, The Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever was believed to have originated from none other than Thomas Jefferson’s private wine collection. What followed the auction were loud whispers about the authenticity of this bottle.  In his book Wallace’s attempts to uncover the true story.  Wine, money, ego and pride! 

Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot

Finally, if you are partial to a glass of bubbly and want to delve into the life of one of the most important woman in the world of wine then grab a copy of Tilar J. Mazzeo’s The Widow Clicquot. When her husband died, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin didn’t just take the reigns of the family wine house in Reims, she grabbed them. Ponsardin navigated wars, politics and sexism to build her Champagne empire and she is remembered as one of the world’s first successful businesswomen. 

Just a few essential volumes to kick start your own literary Adventure in Wine!

Cheers, Michelle

[Image Credits:  Mihail KozuharovShawn Hoke]