It has been quite a good long while since we did a product round-up here on 1WD, and judging by the size of the pile of wine books samples in my office, it’s now high-time that we rectify that. Either that, or I’m going to have a hospital bill in my future after tripping on all of these dead trees…
Given the personal risk of the situation described above, I’m going to defer the final entry in my Southern Rhône series to next week, so that we can get you the skinny on a handful of new wine book releases (and perhaps save me a broken toe or two).
Does the world need yet another how-to-select-a-wine book? Not really. But the world doesn’t really need any more cat memes, either. Both the kitties photos and Find Your Wine have places in this world, however, because both are pretty adorable. Yes, I am really saying that about a wine book. Aimed squarely at beginners (assisting them in discovering personal tastes, finding wines to match, and learning more about the major grape varieties and styles of fine wine), Find Your Wine wins in its combination of making some rather complex wine topics seem approachable (to the point that even its quoted wine expert resources have toned down the rhetoric), and presenting everything in a layout that is so easily digestible that little children could navigate it without instruction. Which will either endear it totally to its recipient, or nauseate said recipient (see, that cat meme comparison really works)…
On the (complete) other end of the spectrum, we have Italian wine auctioneer’s coffee-table tome, The Perfect Wine Cellar. Everything about this large book is meant to impress: its size, weight, austere font choices, gorgeous photographs, and intense focus on the wines to select to fill one’s cellar to the point of throwing wine-loving friends into jealous fits of rage. Giannotti mostly sticks to the (admittedly impressive) brands that she knows here (storied selections from Italy and France make up the vast majority of the book). Like the cellars of the more snobbish collectors that are likely at least part of its target audience, The Perfect Wine Cellar focuses as much on style as it does on content, and is largely full of trophy bottles. Like those trophies, the price tag is steep, and the contents beautiful and well-crafted; but if the impressive isn’t your personal cup of tea, the whole experience might leave you wondering if it was all worth it in the end.
Of course, after you’ve selected your vino and stocked up, eventually you’ll want to drink it. The compact, pithy, and well-considered Cheese Beer Wine Cider can help with that, assuming that you like pairing cheese with adult beverages (and if you don’t… uhm… WHAT?!?). There are seventy-five specific cheese/beverage pairings in this book, and just about all of them sound delicious.
Cheese Beer Wine Cider is a bit too hipster for its own good, choosing its fair share of difficult-for-most-people-to-find wines and craft ciders/beers, but we can forgive its authors for this bit of self-indulgence, because in the process of elucidating on this pairings, we end up learning a decent amount about wine, a good deal about cider and beer, and (thanks to co-author cheese monger Jones) a crap-ton about more cheeses than most folks would have known existed.
Full disclosure: author Steve Raye is a friend of mine. He also happens to be one of the more savvy, intelligent, forward-thinking, and capable wine marketers in the USA. In How To Get U.S. Market-Ready, Raye does a bit of a brain dump of what he’s learned about brand building, working with (or, in some cases, maybe without) distribution, online marketing, labeling, pricing, e-commerce, and… well, pretty much every aspect of the crazy US fine wine market that one can imagine. And it turns out that Raye has learned a great deal, indeed. If Raye’s book design is a bit too textbook-meets-infographic, that’s a minor cavil considering all of the useful information he’s assembled here. Given the insane state of affairs in the US wine market, anyone who is or is considering selling wine in this country (which, basically, includes any brand that’s born here or is exporting here) should put How To Get U.S. Market-Ready on their required reading list.