Wine Books of 2020: Six to Savor

Food & Drink

This year, a handful of wine books have risen to the top of the best published in 2022. Here are a few to savor.

If you’re an Italophile oenophile, pick up Chianti Classico, The Complete Atlas of the UGA Vineyards, Alessandro Masnaghetti and Paolo De Cristofaro (translated by Burton Anderson). This is a particularly helpful book for students of Italian wine, the first of its kind delving into the region after its new Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (UGA), subzone classifications. Published by Enogea, the author’s imprint, and encompassing 500 pages and some 180 maps, it’s expected to be available in the U.S. in early 2023, but will be worth the wait (or sleuthing if you can find by other means) for its maps, explanatory detail and “sensorial intimacy.”

Drinking with the Valkyries, Andrew Jefford. Also from the Académie du Vin Library publishing imprint and also authored by a British wine writer, this volume is a collection of Jefford’s columns, most of which appeared in Decanter magazine, his long-time publishing home. An advocate of being wine-curious in the truest sense he urges readers and drinkers to ask a range of wine-related questions from flavors and perceptions to market value and personal value.

To Fall in Love, Drink This, Alice Feiring. The cover, a riff on Alice in Wonderland, is a delightful lead in to the memoir by the well-known natural-wine champion. Feiring was first known for her 2008, The Battle for Wine and Love: Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization, a work that first signaled her refusal to go along with the crowd, or at least a crowd-pleasing critic, and her brand of invidualsim and passion is the consistent thread in her other books focused on natural wine. Rather than taking a long arch, this memoir is organized as a collection of essays—memories and people-and-place inspirations.

The Life and Wines of Hugh Johnson, Hugh Johnson (Perhaps one of the most prolific wine writers of the old guard, Johnson has authored numerous classics including garden books for which he may be less known. His Pocket Guide is said to be the best-selling compendium, and he has co-authored the World Atlas of Wine. This volume is an update of his 2005 memoir Wine, A Life Uncorked, with Johnson as the narrator and a sort of tour guide as he takes readers down memory lane, which, for him, happens to be most of the great vineyards of the world. Foreword by Eric Asimov, published by Académie du Vin Library, the imprint Steven Spurrier revitalized before his death.

Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine, Joe Campanale with Joshua David Stein. This is a beautiful book for the coffee table, to hold and to read, starting with the Florentine marbled-end papers and punctuated with lovely photography on quality matte paper stock. The book is organized by 20 chapter devoted to each of Italy’s major wine regions, with producer recommendations in each; explanatory material on the wine classification system and a section on emerging styles, which in Italy, with its some 400+ grape varieties, will be a chapter forever told. Campanale is well known in the New York City restaurant scene as a sommelier and owner/operator of Italian-focused eateries.

The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil. First published in 2001, new to this third edition of the venerable primer, are color photos and expanded text to include salient topics such as climate change and a renewed interest in wine origins and history. MacNeil is an impassioned and engaging speaker, educator and it shows in her knowledgeable, inclusive and democratic approach to wines of the world. Easy to follow modular layout will appeal to those learning about wine.

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