A dear friend of mine reached out to me recently with this question:
I am looking for a birthday gift for a big wine connoisseur…perhaps a book about wine. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!
I LOVE Tina’s question because she wants to buy the right gift for her friend but understands that wine is super subjective. We don’t all like the same wines (umm, that’s why I created Wine4.Me), so asking for a suggestion of a wine to buy a friend is something she may strike out on. And who wants to do that with a gift?
What are the best wine books to give as gifts?
These are some of my very favorite books about wine:
Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes by Evan Dawson
In Summer in a Glass, Evan Dawson tells the stories behind many of the pioneers of the Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York. This is a book any human can enjoy, not necessarily only wine lovers, as it profiles not just the wines and the industry, but the spirit behind those who are transforming the Finger Lakes into a region growing and crafting delicious wines.
I ordered this book from Amazon after hearing an interview with Evan on NPR. I tore through the book in two days, which was a feat considering I was also rearing toddlers at the time. After reading it, we planned a trip to the Finger Lakes where I was fortunate to have met several of the people in the book, as well as the author.
Check out the book’s video.
Educating Peter: How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert by Lettie Teague
Lettie Teague knows her wine, and she is fantastic about sharing her knowledge in a super approachable way. She is currently a wine columnist for the Wall Street Journal. When the book was first released, she was the Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine.
In Educating Peter, she lets us into conversations she is having while teaching her friend Peter Travers, who is Rolling Stone’s film critic, about wine. In reading it the first time, I wanted to go out and buy all of the wines mentioned so I could taste along with the two of them!
I love the way she approaches wine in a comfortable way, yet backs up all of her statements with well-researched and experienced fact. This is a great read, filled with solid information and insight set in a narrative I also had trouble putting down.
(Writing this today makes me want to go back and read it again, nearly 4 years later, to see what I’ve learned since I first enjoyed it!)
Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course
Kevin Zraly, who created the Windows on the World Wine School in Manhattan, has sold more than 3 million copies of his Complete Wine Course books over the years. There is a reason why: His writing makes sense and his knowledge runs very deep. Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course is an easy-to-read resource for learning about wine. It’s great for looking up fast facts about regions, taking a deeper dive, or learning how to explore and identify different aspects of wine when tasting it and enjoying it.
What to Drink with What you Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
Curious as to what wines might go best with what foods?
What to Drink with What you Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page takes advice from top sommeliers across America in paring not just wine, but spirits and coffee with thousands of foods. This is a fantastic resource guide and a great start from which to create a menu.
I love how it is organized such that you can search by beverage or dish to find great matches. The authors also offer an explanation of the senses and why certain combinations go well together at the beginning of the book.
I keep this one on my coffee table and flip through it often for inspiration.
The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson
This one is a classic.
Jancis Robinson, who is a Master of Wine, is the weekly wine columnist for the Financial Times. The Oxford Companion to Wine, which she authored, covers almost all you could ever want to know about wine and has gorgeous photographs of wine countries all over the world. It’s a very complete, yet also very beautiful resource book in which you can look up just about any wine term, variety, region, and more and find out more than you ever need to know.
This is another one that lives on my coffee table, and I flip through often. It is definitely a book to give to a wine enthusiast…unless she already owns it.
Those are my top 5 wine books to give (and get) as gifts. Are there any you might add to the list?
If you have any wine questions that I can answer for YOU, drop me a note and I’ll do my best. I can be reached at amy (at) wine4 (dot) me.