Fancy yourself as a bit of a wine connoisseur but don’t know your Pouilly-Fumé from your Pouilly-Fuissé? Or are you a ‘trend-hopping’ vegan who likes the look of this natural wine phenom, but doesn’t exactly know what it is? Perhaps you’re someone starting your career in wine?
As fickle and splendid technology today can be, there’s nothing quite like reading a book. The dust-laden ones, or the new ones fresh out of the book shop which remind us of childhood, even the feel of turning the first page. Over the years I’ve amassed countless wine books – a testament to my mother who roams second-hand shops on my behalf in search of more older editions and discontinued wine books for my ever-growing collection.
I’ve rounded up a selection below of my personal favourites new and old, which I hope will bring you as much joy and knowledge as they have to me over the years.
The World Atlas of Wine 7th Edition (2013) – By Hugh Johnson OBE & Jancis Robinson MW.
Considered as the ‘most essential and authoritative wine reference work available’ – if you have only one wine book in your collection, let this one be it. This book is without question the bible for wine professionals. Not only is it written by the world’s most respected wine writers, but it is also the most comprehensive book brimming with information, maps, and explanations for any wine question you will ever have.
Originally published in 1971, there have been seven editions released since then, where the content has been reviewed and updated over the years to reflect the modern winemaking techniques and winegrowing regions of today.
Available for around €37-€45 from Amazon or in good bookshops nationwide, The World Atlas of Wine is indeed one book you’ll likely have forever.
Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine (2015) – By Justin Hammack & Madeline Puckette.
An eclectic and fun approach to learning wine for those beginning their wine journey, Wine Folly is an interactive book full of colour and simple, with easy to understand language. Hammack & Puckette have written this super cool book to simplify wine, remove them scary barriers that the subject sometimes gives, and so those who read the book can feel confident in tasting, handling, and food pairings.
This book has been such a success since its publishing in 2015, that a new sequel, ‘Wine Folly: Magnum Edition’, is being released later this year, which will give an expanded level of information compared to the first book. For those of you who are Wine Folly fans, be sure also to check out their Facebook and Youtube channels where fun, informative, wine videos are posted daily by eccentric co-author Madeline Puckette.
Available from Eason Stores nationwide for €26.60.
Wine and War: The French, The Nazis, and The Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure – By Donald Kladstrup & Petie Kladstrup (2001)
Donald Kladstrup, a retired American Network Correspondent and his wife Petie, have accumulated a collection of stories of how many heroic French winemakers during the Second World War saved not only their best wines and way of life but also hid and sheltered Jewish refugees in their cellars, resisting the force of the Gestapo.
A coincidingly uplifting and heart-breaking book, this is one piece of wine literature that can be admired by those who enjoy both fiction and non-fiction and appreciate the art of wine with an influence of historical emotion.
A sentimental ode to the courageous French vignerons of their time, this book is available on Amazon online for between €12-€15.
Wine – A Way of Life – By Steven Spurrier (2018)
Written by Steven Spurrier accounting on his own life around wine, this book follows Spurrier’s journey from being a 13-year-old being inspired by a glass of Cockburn’s 1908 Vintage Port, to organising the world’s most historic wine competition, The Judgement of Paris, in 1976.
Recognised by many as the most admired and celebrated man in the wine industry for decades gone by, Spurriers long-anticipated autobiography released this year tells much about his time in 1964 joining London’s oldest wine merchant, becoming the president of the Wine Spirit Education Trust, and now owning his own vineyard in Dorset, Bride Valley Vineyard.
A book which will inspire and one you won’t want to put down, this great read is available in Dubray Books nationwide for €27.05.
Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink like the World’s Top Wine Professionals (2010) – By Rajat Parr & Jordan Mackay
Before being one of Oregon and California’s top winemakers today, Rajat Parr in 2010 was deemed by many as America’s top sommelier, presiding as Wine Director for the Mina Group, a collection of Americas 17 most exceptional restaurants. In this book, Parr and wine journalist Jordan Mackay present a captivating representation of wine professionals and their trade, interviewing many elite sommeliers in the US who give envy-inducing tales of super bottles sold, and what the most exceptional wines in the world taste like.
Parr, throughout the book, also offers his take on the sommelier profession giving an immersion course in tasting and serving wine like an expert; sharing approaches for acquiring hard-to-find bottles at a reasonable price, identifying value sweet spots among the top regions, and educate readers on how to make inspired food pairings.
If like me, you’re also a sommelier, and what to learn off one of the best in Parr, do be sure to make this book part of your library. Available from €30 on Amazon.
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (2018)
First published in 1977 and released every year since with updated content, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book is a staple of wine information that almost every wine lover should have in their book collection. This annual guide provides commentary on nearly 6000 wines, with detailed accounts on growers and regions worldwide.
It also offers excellent advice on selecting a bottle of wine for a casual weekday, or one in which you want to make a significant investment in for long-term keep. Its food and wine matching guide is also helpful for those new to the concept of flavour pairings.
Available from Easons and all good bookshops nationwide for €18.20.
Originally from Celbridge, Kildare, Philip Dunne has worked in the Irish hospitality industry since he was 15. After experiences in fine and casual dinning, he started to work at Ashford Castle in 2015 and after working his way up, he became Ashford Castle’s Head Sommelier at the age of 25. Following this, Philip became the Restaurant & Wine Director at Old Street Restaurant in Malahide. He is now Head Sommelier at Dublin’s Westbury Hotel.
Philip’s passion for wine goes beyond the service at the luxurious five star as he also writes about the topic and he’s an enthusiastic and active presence in the Irish wine scene.