I’ve been wading through the upcoming releases of new wine books set to debut just before the holiday season this year. Oh, it’s an exciting lot! All kinds of fascinating, controversial, and just plain must-have books for the literate oenophile. Both of them. Many of these new releases are self-published, but the rest are actual books. Here are some of my favorites. All of the books were reviewed totally blind to guarantee objectivity.
“The Completely Amateur Guide to Writing Worthless Wine Books” by Madeline Puckette
Ms. Puckette, pixieish author of the fairy tale website “Wine Folly” (why, just kiss a frog and, Abracadabra, you’re a knowledgeable wine writer—with frog breath, just like Michel Bettane!), has written a very useful book for wine bloggers who want to publish. So many wine bloggers ask themselves, “How do I create a successful wine book when I know very little about wine, and have the writing skills of AutoCorrect?” Ms. Puckette managed that very feat with her book, “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.” If by “Essential” you mean “facts don’t matter.” The Donald Trump approach to wine. Turns out it’s simple, though one might assume that given the author. This useful book gives the aspiring wine writer worthwhile tips on how to write a worthless wine book:
Use lots of graphs and pie charts. They look official even when they are totally worthless, sort of like Scientologists.
Who needs experience when you have Wikipedia? With a few quick strokes and deletions, you can take any wine information found on the internet and Melania Trump that motherfucker. Simple.
Get a cute haircut. No reason. Just, for once in your life, get a cute haircut. All the wine experts have them!
“The Completely Amateur Guide to Writing Worthless Wine Books” is an Essential guide to wine writing. And I do mean Essential.
“The Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk” by Kelli White
The prolific Ms. White, author of the heaviest wine book on record, “Napa Valley Then and Now,” has outdone herself with the supersized “The Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk.” Used by juiced-up Russian weightlifters as a workout tool, “The Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk” is the authoritative guide to the Finger Lakes wine growing region—the Wine Book of the Year no one has been clamoring for. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not an autoerotic sex manual for lonely Master Sommeliers. They already have “World of Fine Wine” for that. (Never borrow their copies. The Terry Theise pages stick together like natural wine writers.) Rather, White has managed to produce the definitive guide to what she calls, “America’s premiere cool climate grape growing region, if you don’t count Barbara Banke’s lingerie drawer.” Weighing in at just under Peter Dinklage, this is a fascinating account of the winegrowing history of the Finger Lakes, and includes White’s perceptive reviews of the best wines of the best producers, giving special attention to the wines of the Middle Finger Lake, known as Lake Fuckyou, named for a local Native American tribe. White is a delicious writer, and you'll want to devour this massive tome with a knife and forklift.
“Riesling: Who Really Gives a Shit?” An Anthology
The perfect companion book to Ms. White’s, “Riesling: Who Really Gives a Shit?” is the newest in the “Who Really Gives a Shit?” series, following “Orange Wine: Who Really Gives a Shit,” “Wine Blog Awards: Who Really Gives a Shit,” and “Dry Furmint: Who Really Gives a Shit.” The “Riesling” edition may be the most controversial in the WRGAS? series. Riesling has long been touted as one of the world’s finest wine grapes by authorities ranging from Stuart Piggott to the highly regarded Stuart Piggott, and everyone in between. In this anthology, the editors have compiled articles expressing the majority opinion that, while Riesling may be one of the great wine grapes on the planet, most folks don’t really care. Sure, it’s great, it’s the Barry Bonds of wine, but let’s not pretend we actually like it when, really, we’re just afraid of it. Who buys Riesling? Oh, it goes with so many foods, just like bad breath. Contributors to “Riesling: WRGAS?” include Eric Asimov (“If One More Sommelier Suggests Riesling, I’m Going to Take a Wikileaks on Him”), James Laube (“I Get Enough Diesel Sucking Marvin’s Tailpipe”), and Jancis Robinson (“Riesling: It’s Rheingaud Awful”).
“Making Sense of Phoning It In” by Matt Kramer
Some wine writers tirelessly impart wine knowledge; Matt Kramer is our leading wine writer who tirelessly speaks of his own. In this collection of columns first published in Wine Spectator, Kramer delights us with clever satire (“Letter to a Wine Snob: Be More Like Me) and hard-hitting editorializing (“Letter to a Wine Snob: You’ll Never Know as Much as I Do”). Kramer has an easy-to-read style. He’s the Easy Bake Oven® of wine writers—he works with one low-wattage light bulb. This is the latest in his “Making Sense of…” wine books. The wine world is eagerly anticipating next year’s release, “Making Sense of Hanging it Up.”
These are all must-have wine books. And keep your eyes open for these other about-to-be-released titles:
“Melania Trump and Me” by Natalie MacLean
“Mama Mia, Logorrhea!” by David Schildknecht
“The Fred Dame MS Story” by Fred Dame MS, as told to Fred Dame MS, English Translation by Fred Dame MS, published by Fred Dame MS, foreword by Fred Dame MS.
“A Crash Course in the Wines of Sicily” by Eric Asimov with Alfonso Cevola.