If you or a fellow zythophile (beer lover), enophile (wine lover), or liquorphile (ok, you get it now!) happen to be thirsty for a good read, here’s a roundup of half-a-dozen super stocking-stuffers published in 2013.
Here’s to your health and good cheer!
1) The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition, Completely Revised & Updated, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, Mitchell Beazley/Octopus/Hachette Book Group, $55.
On a roll after Ecco Press this time last year released the magisterial “Wine Grapes”, in which Jancis Robinson, a Master of Wine, and her two co-authors, trace the genetic and viticultural history of the wine world’s 1,368 grape types from Albariño to Zinfandel, now Robinson together with her fellow English wine authority, Hugh Johnson, have just released the fully updated, 7th edition of their best-selling “World Atlas of Wine.” This full-color atlas is the go-to guide to locate, see, and understand the true meaning of “terroir”, be it at one of the globe’s most recently delimited appellations in Ningxia, China or one of its oldest, say, the Côte de Beaune, in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or.
2) Apothecary Cocktails, Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today, by Warren Bobrow, Fair Winds Press, $21.99.
Bobrow, a respected mixologist, beverage blogger and author, digs deep into our country’s cocktail past. In his Apothecary Cocktails, he examines how late 19th century homemade and commercial remedies, most laced generously with alcohol, are vegetal, herbal inspirations for some 21st century recipes that are breath-taking in their creativity and, often, sheer savory power. Such a collection of 75 apothecary-inspired recipes will surely get the creative juices flowing, for you, your cocktail-obsessed friends or your regular customers at the bar.
3) The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming A Wine Expert, by Richard Betts, Houghton Mifflin, $19.99.
Betts is on a simple mission: Take the starch out of pretentious wine books by offering an approachable, sense-based guide to appreciating why we love the wines we love. Employing all our senses, and concentrating on a list of 4 smells and flavors – fruit, earth, wood, and other – each of which is ably illustrated by artist Wendy MacNaughton, Betts gets down to the sensual essentials of discerning what we like in a wine’s aroma and flavors. In this short book, the reader is empowered by his common-sense tools and pithy vocabulary to learn to articulate the why in the wines we love.
4) The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine, Jeffrey Siegel, $12.95, to purchase, visit: winecurmudgeon.com
Siegel boasts his work as “perhaps the only wine book ever written that doesn’t have pictures of grapes, vineyards or hilltop wineries.” To compensate, he succinctly differentiates between a wine made cheaply and a cheap wine. He also details how to buy cheap wine and how to find a good retailer, the latter section alone worth the price of the book for any merchant interested in raising their game!
5) The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, by Tom Acitelli, Chicago Review Press, $14.64.
Craft beer sales are scorching hot and steadily rising. At a time not too long past, when owing in large part to forces of consolidation, the number of operating American breweries dwindled to below 100, today the landscape in all 50 states is dotted with micro-breweries, almost 3,000 at last count! What happened? Author Tom Acitelli gives us the historical background behind this frothy renaissance. Pour a mug and savor this uplifting story, full of hops, barley and ample measures of pure American moxie.
6) American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit, by Clay Risen, Sterling, $24.95.
In the last 20 years there have been a slew new micro- and artisanal distilleries built, brands launched and barrels filled with all kinds of craft whiskies. Catching up on the history, growth, decline and rebirth of the America’s whiskey business, Clay Risen also offers the reader tasting notes for more than 200 whiskies and an alphabetical listing of each distillery and the brands they age and market.
Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in the December 2013 issue of Beverage Media; the author wishes to thank its editors for permission to reprint this story.