Thursday, December 7, 2017

Holiday Gift Giving: Best Books of the Year

Holidays are here and it's time to shop for gifts or just stock up on your supply of books for winter reading. Here are my recommendations for the best of 2017.

1. Best Wine Book of the Year: The City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles

This is the best untold story in wine. We're lucky to have a wine historian as esteemed as Thomas Pinney to finally tell the tale of California's original wine country and its subsequent prosperity, glory days, and demise.

One of my favorite wineries in the world is Galleano, a surviving Los Angeles area winery run by a family that has hung onto 100 year old organically grown (and certified) vines (and redwood tanks) to this day, making some of the best sherry you'll ever taste. Treat yourself to a glass of Galleano's Mary Margaret sherry while you read this excellent volume.

2. Best Food and Wine Book of the Year: The Gourmands' Way

Another extremely well written book by a polished writer covers the influencers who introduced the U.S. to French food and wine. It's an indirect exploration of the roots of our mass foodie-ism movement where Americans learn to care about organic farm to table foods (and hopefully organic grape to glass). Wine merchant and educator extraordinaire Alexis Lichine is one of those profiled. Enjoy with a glass of your favorite (organically grown) Bordeaux.

3. Best Wine Murder Mystery Book of the Year: Requiem in Yquem

Looking for some light reading? The fun and frivolous Winemaker Detective series from Le French Book is always good for a few hours of entertainment. This is the 13th in the series about the wine consultant Benjamin Cooker who gets help from his wise wife and his young sidekick. Written by two Frenchmen - Noel Balen and Jean-Pierre Alaux. If you're new to the series, this volume might entice you to explore all the others in the series. Drink with Chateau d/Yquem, of course.

An honorable mention also goes to Alice Waters for her touching memoir about the her discovery of French wine and food and the origins of her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. I liked the book but I really enjoyed the audio book, read by the author herself.

4. Best Wine Paperbook of the Year: Cork Dork

Looking for a popular nonfiction book about the world of wines and somms?  Bianca Bosker's smash hit Cork Dork is a winner, no matter how much or how little you know about wine. The paperback version came out in 2017. Check out the New York Times review. Drink with whatever overpriced, much hyped, hipster, small lot (the more inobtainium, the better) wine you prefer.

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