A Very Good Year: Here’s to 10 Books That Will Be A Welcome Addition to a Wine Lover’s Library
It was another very good year for wine books, with a newly revised edition of a classic reference book and a couple of excellent food-and-wine pairing guides standing out. Here are some favorites:
Women of Wine
Ann B. Matasar
Published by University of California Press; $24.95
In her book Women of Wine: The Rise of Women in the Global Wine Industry, Ann B. Matasar, business professor at Roosevelt University, reports on women’s growing contributions to the world of wine. She outlines the obstacles women in wine-related professions must overcome, and then interviews the women who have done so and explains the changes in the past 25 years that have made this possible.
While Matasar spends most of her time on winemakers and estate owners, she includes many other professions — journalists, publishers, researchers, critics, scientists, viticulturists, consultants, auctioneers, merchants, executives and more. She also features four pioneering women of the 19th century — the famed Veuve Clicquot and Madame Pommery, both of Champagne; Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira of Portugal, and Mary Penfold of Australia — who made significant contributions to the industry. With this book, Matasar makes her own significant contribution to it.
The Oxford Companion to Wine , 3rd edition
Jancis Robinson, editor
Published by Oxford University Press; $65
The Oxford Companion to Wine comes with a distinguished pedigree. Earlier editions of it have won every major wine-book award. And no wonder. It’s edited by British wine expert Jancis Robinson, aka the First Lady of Wine. Robinson is, Matasar writes, “considered by some to be one of the twentieth century’s two great wine writers....” She’s also one of the few to have passed the Master of Wine exams on the first try. And she’s the first wine writer to have received the Order of the British Empire. Robinson is a star, and here she’s aided by 167 contributors, including renowned academics, wine writers and other wine experts.
This third revision covers everything from Alfrocheiro to Zentralkellerei — as well as more familiar topics, from Asti to Zinfandel. An eminently browsable book of almost 900 pages, with a million words and 3,900 entries — almost 400 are new and 40% have been extensively revised — it’s a must for any truly serious student of wine. Robinson writes that it “aims to be the definitive single-volume wine reference.” It’s certainly the reference book I turn to first.
Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food
Published by University of California Press; $29.95
Goldstein, aware that “no other consumer product [besides wine] causes such paralysis by analysis,” aims to demystify food-and-wine matching so “you will ultimately find pairing as intuitive and natural as breathing.” It’s hard to think of anyone better suited to the task.
In addition to earning the prestigious Master Sommelier title, he’s been teaching consumers and professionals about wine and food for more than 20 years. Here he explores 12 varietals, plus sparkling and dessert wines. He covers the regions they grow in, the choices vintners make and the vocabulary that describes wines’ flavors. Then he gets down to the nitty-gritty of food-and-wine pairing. Recipes by “renowned chef” Joyce Goldstein — who just happens to be his mom — are provided, as are recommended wines and producers to accompany them. Sections like Keys to Understanding Wine, Keys to Understanding Food, Magic Ingredients and Their Effects and Quick Reference (A Cheat Sheet) add to the mix. This is a very important book for anyone seriously interested in food-and-wine matching.