Three favourite wine books
It took a house move to make me realise that I was “over-thinged.” Included in my excess baggage was every Decanter magazine since 1977 and several hundred wine books. They had to go. The magazines went into a skip and I donated my books to Wine-Searcher where they now reside in specially constructed shelves.
La Vigne by Bertall
This is my favourite. I love it for the illustrations, one of which depicts maidens treading grapes – reproduced above. The book is in French, which is such a struggle for me to read that I don’t bother. La Vigne was printed in 1878. It is a 658-page tour around the wines and wine regions of France. I bought a reproduction of the original in London around 1990. It’s a lavish, gold-embossed leather-bound volume that lives in its own leather case. I bought it for the illustrations, which are out of copyright and have been extensively reproduced by me.
The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding
I should start by declaring an interest – I have written the New Zealand section since this 850-page book was first published. This is truly a wine bible. I use it to fact-check and flick through it when I need inspiration. It’s a good bedside read – chockablock with interesting facts about a vast and diverse range of wine-related topics. Truly a “must have” for anyone who’s been seriously bitten by the wine bug.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz
Why do I seem to like big books? Should I seek counselling? Wine Grapes has 1,242 pages of highly technical stuff that is surprisingly accessible. I wouldn’t describe it as a “good read” but it is the go-to book for anything to do with wine grapes. There is so much nonsense talked about wine grapes (no, syrah/shiraz did not originate in Persia) but with support from DNA testing the authors politely set the record straight. When I was at school you only had to drop the library copy of Lady Chatterley gently on its spine for it to open at the naughty bits. Try that with my copy of Wine Grapes and it flicks open to pinot noir.