“The Life and Wines of Hugh Johnson”
By Hugh Johnson (Académie du Vin Library, 252 pages, $45)
The venerable British author has helped ignite many a reader’s love of wine (together with mine) with books similar to “Classic: The Story of Wine” and “The World Atlas of Wine,” now in its eighth version (and co-authored by Jancis Robinson). “The Life and Wines of Hugh Johnson” is an up to date revision of his 2005 work, “Wine: A Life Uncorked.” (Good to have a mulligan in life.) It’s a memoir organized extra like a standard wine primer or atlas. Slightly than loading us with statistics of winery acreage and soil varieties, Johnson takes us alongside as he recounts his personal journeys exploring the world of wine. He’s been throughout that world, and he appears to have been current at or close to the start of each vogue or pattern, even when he disapproved of them.
This can be a don’t-miss e book for individuals who plan their travels round vineyards. Johnson is at his finest when he unspools historical past from historical instances to the current, with wine because the fixed, frequent thread. In a typical passage, he recounts a visit he took with fellow wine lovers retracing the routes of historical Greeks to Lipari, a small island north of Sicily the place Agamemnon sought obsidian, the “black shattered lava” that “made the keenest edge then recognized” for weapons. The island additionally made wine, after all.
“On Lipari, sitting within the balmy night air underneath a vine, searching on the wine-dark sea, I had no hassle dreaming myself again to the creak and smash of galleys, triremes with three banks of oars slicing the grey rollers south of Italy,” he writes. “This wine appeared proper for the fighters of the Trojan wars: amber, nut-flavored, dense and powerful.”
“To Fall in Love, Drink This”
By Alice Feiring (Scribner, 269 pages, $17)
Whereas Johnson is a traditionalist, Alice Feiring is a firebrand. This nation’s main proponent of pure wine, Feiring burst onto the wine scene in 2008 with “The Battle for Wine and Love: Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization.” The e book is a memoir in addition to a battle cry towards a not totally imaginary world wherein most wine conformed to the preferences of 1 omnipotent critic. “To Fall in Love, Drink This,” her newest, is extra private.
Feiring walks a wonderful line between vainness and vulnerability as wine turns into her portal to a life past the confines of her conventional New York Metropolis Jewish upbringing, the place wine meant Manischewitz with the sabbath meal. For Feiring, wine is about connections — to nature, to the world, and most of all to different folks: would-be lovers, even a chatty plumber who shares his personal vulnerabilities whereas taking too lengthy to repair her bathroom. She as soon as used her artist abilities to attract kosher markings on the label of a wine she wished her mom to attempt. And when her brother, with whom she had a lifelong emotional and non secular bond, was dying of most cancers, she poured him a Georgian wine “the colour of rattlesnake venom,” to not revive him a lot as to cling to him. “Consuming that wine was the closest I used to be going to get to sharing life with him, a final try,” she writes.
Alongside the best way, Feiring introduces us to a few of her favourite pure wine producers, together with a husband-and-wife staff she describes as “hospitable vegans.” These sections appear perfunctory and counsel that Feiring’s single-minded and sometimes ideological concentrate on pure wine might have closed her off — or maybe shielded her — from potential connections with a much wider world.
“Consuming with the Valkyries”
By Andrew Jefford (Académie du Vin Library, 224 pages, $35)
Andrew Jefford is of the British college, a era youthful than Johnson, having begun his wine writing profession in 1988. “Drinking with the Valkyries” is a set of Jefford’s columns, principally for Decanter journal. In such brief doses he employs a number of moods, from the giddy delight of ingesting younger classic port (the column that lends its title to the e book) to somber reflection in the course of the quiet of coronavirus pandemic lockdown in France, the place he lives, when the arrival of nightingales on their spring migration from Africa reminded him that beneath the stillness, the world nonetheless moved.
“Wine has by no means appeared extra superfluous as an edifice, an unlimited palace of fussiness; but its essence, as not only a bodily however a psychological or non secular restorative, has by no means been extra helpful,” he writes. “A lot and generally all the customary texture of life has been stripped away, so we treasure that which fortifies resolve — like a glass of wine at day’s finish. Wine, in the intervening time, has gone elemental.”
Jefford’s essays are like that cup of wine at day’s finish — restorative, uplifting and enlightening. It’s possible you’ll wish to learn one other earlier than placing down the bottle — I imply, the e book.
By Karen MacNeil (Workman, 736 pages, $40 for paperback)
New wine lovers starting to discover the horizons past the glass or anybody needing a one-stop reference e book ought to look no additional than the third version of “The Wine Bible.” MacNeil has up to date this third version with shade images (lastly) and new sections on historical wine historical past and local weather change. I take pleasure in opening the e book at random. I’m at all times sure to see one thing new by means of MacNeil’s authoritative, whimsical and ever-joyful perspective.