Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers: A Roundup of Great Books

The days are passing, and unless you've done your homework about shipping laws it may be too late to send wine to the wine lovers on your list.

If good wine is out, how about a good book about wine? Personally, I think I'm even more delighted to receive a book than a bottle.

Here are some of the best books available, with my recommendations for just who might love to have them on their shelves.

For Adventurous Types
Oz Clark, Oz Clark's Grapes and Wines: the Definitive Guide to the World's Greatest Grapes and the Wines They Make ($25; $16.50 from
This is the book for wine lovers who never pick Chardonnay off the wine list. It's chock full of information on rare grape varieties and it takes account of geographical diversity and how climate influences the character of grapes.

For Pinot Noir Lovers
John Winthrop Haeger, Pacific Pinot Noir: A Comprehensive Winery Guide for Consumers and Connoisseurs ($21.95; $14.93 from
If you have someone on your list who loves West Coast Pinot Noir, then get them a copy of this new book. It has notes on more than two hundred wineries stretching from California through to Oregon, tasting notes, vintage reports, and more. I found Haeger's characterization of various "house styles" on target and very useful. A highly recommended new release from the University of California Press.

For History Buffs and Keepers of Great Tasting
George Saintsbury, Notes on a Cellar Book ($29.95; $21.56 from
George Saintsbury (1845-1933) was an English literature professor at the University of Edinburgh. In 1920, he published his Notes on a Cellar Book, a wonderful collection of reflections on drinking everything from the best French Burgundy to a refreshing pint of beer. Reading this new edition of Saintsbury's work is a glimpse into our viticultural past, as well as a revelation of how great wine and great
literature can go hand-in-hand.

For Biography Lovers--and Fans of Bubbly
Tilar J. Mazzeo, The Widow Clicquot: The story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It ($25.95; $17.13 from
I've been waiting for this book for a long, long time. Finally, Tilar Mazzeo tells us the compelling story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin (aka Veuve Clicquot). How this woman transformed the reputation of Champagne from a lowly tipple to the toast of tsars and emperors sheds light on the power of image in the wine business and the determination of one woman to do things her way despite years of tradition and resistance.

For Mystery Lovers
Benjamin Wallace, The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine ($24.95; $16.47 from
Combine a famous president, some classic Bordeaux, a lot of wrangling for the "best" and the "rarest" and you get the perfect conditions for fraud, skulduggery, and behind-the-scenes machinations that would but Machiavelli to shame. This is a real page-turner, and will delight history fans and wine collectors as well as mystery buffs.

For Those Just Beginning Their Journey Into Wine
Tyler Colman, A Year of Wine: Perfect Pairings, Great Buys, and What to Sip for Each Season ($24.00; $17.44 from
Colman's new book is the perfect choice if you have someone on your list who is new to wine or is intimidated by wine. Taking a steady, month-by-month approach, Colman proves that context is all and that the wine you love in January may not be the one you want to sip in August. Specific recommendations and travel tips accompany pairing suggestions and round out this accessible, informative guide. It's like having Dr. Vino right in your house whenever you need him!

Even last minute shoppers are sure to find something here to suit almost everyone on their list. And with no shipping restrictions, you are sure to be able to get your gift to its recipient in time for the holidays.

Full disclosure: With the exception of Oz Clarke's book, I received these books as samples.


Anonymous said...

You failed to mention one of the best books of the Gary Vaynerchuk..101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring the Thunder to Your World.

**** I highly recommended it!! Check it out

Anonymous said...

VERY cool you've got "Notes On A Cellar Book" in there.

Tom Wark...

cblukens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cblukens said...

Good round-up. Thanks for the post! - colin

Amy Atwood said...

I must check out 'Notes on a Cellar'.
Am enjoying 'Everyday Drinking' by Kingsley Amis right now

Jon and Steph said...

Love your blog! My husband and I are avid wine drinkers and love trying new wines and visiting vineyards! This book list is great! Thanks for sharing

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, Tom. Amy, if you like Amis you will really like Saintsbury. And Welcome, Jon and Steph. Let me know how you like the books!

RJ's Wine Blog said...

Thanks for the review of books. Some of these I've read, some I have not, but I just posted a short review of The Billionaire's Vinegar on my blog - didn't like it much.

Also, I blogrolled your site - really good stuff and I look forward to tasting more of the wines you're tasting.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend sent me a gift.The gift as I found out contained a wine bottle and now we're thinking it may have been rejected since it was an alcoholic beverage. Can anyone answer this?


Gifts are source of happiness to both - provider and recipient.
What a great idea! Trash to Treasure is always a good thing!
Thanks for ideas

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