It's getting to be that time of year when the world of books to read and books to give collide. They are often one and the same thing, especially for wine and spirits aficionados.
This year, there has been an outpouring of interesting books. Here are our choices:
“A Man and his Mountain: The Everyman who Created Kendall-Jackson and Became America's Greatest Wine Entrepreneur,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes ($26.99, Public Affairs Books), is an in-depth 306-page look at the life and wines of the late Jess Jackson, and through it a wonderful accounting of recent California wine history. The kind of story movie directors covet, it starts with a “street-smart farm boy” buying his first vineyard and ends with a self-made billionaire owning some 14,000 acres of vineyard land and the most popular chardonnay brand in the world.
“Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer's Tour of France,” by Berkeley-based wine merchant Kermit Lynch ($28, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a favorite of wine drinkers everywhere, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of publication with a redesign and updates, including a list of Lynch's 25 most memorable bottles. The outspoken French wine authority serves as both valuable resource and lively raconteur.
“American Wine,” by Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy ($50, University of California Press), released earlier this year, is the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource on the planet for where wine is being made across the United States, from detailed looks at Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara County to what's going on in Colorado, Missouri and the entirety of New England. With helpful maps and producer recommendations, this book will ignite a desire to hit the open road and taste it all yourself.
“Cheese & Beer,” by Napa Valley-based writer Janet Fletcher ($24.99, Andrews McMeel), released last April, is a lovely slip of a book packed with good ideas for pairing craft brews with craft cheeses, including party platter ideas and an indispensable chart on appropriate beers for many styles of cheese. Organized by beer types — ales and lagers — Fletcher gives each beer a series of style notes, followed by a list of specific beers worth trying and their affinities with specific cheeses. Barley Wine, for example, goes well with Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk. Yum.