Thursday, August 13, 2020
Aug. 13, 2020

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Check It Out: Raise a glass to these books about wine


Do you know what a sommelier is? I thought I knew, but to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster’s definition is this: “a waiter in a restaurant who has charge of wines and their service; a wine steward.” I bring this up because I’m in the middle of reading “Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier” by Victoria James. At the ripe old age of twenty-one, Ms. James became a sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s a field that has typically been dominated by men, so being young and female presented her with many challenges from both co-workers and customers. I am really enjoying her story and also learning more about wine.

To continue with a wine theme, I am offering a reading list for oenophiles (Merriam-Webster again: “a lover or connoisseur of wine). Whether you like to drink it or make it or all of the above, check out some library books devoted to the grape.

For a look into a Pacific Northwest winery, read Susan Sokol Blosser’s memoir “The Vineyard Years.” If you like wine but don’t know much about it (maybe you’re ready to move from box wine to bottles?), two books will help you on your journey: “Know-It-All Wine” by Gerard Basset and “Wine Simple” by sommelier, Aldo Sohm. Perhaps your knowledge of wine has advanced to the point that you want make it yourself. Well, you’re in luck because “The Homebuilt Winery” by Steve Hughes and “Wild Winemaking” by Fred Lyon will give you plenty of tips and advice.

Even if you don’t drink wine, it’s hard to deny the beauty of a vineyard. We’re lucky to have so many vineyards in Washington, and my husband and I love to take drives past these grape-laden fields. The pandemic makes it more difficult to travel, so a bibliographic tour of vineyards might be the next best thing. “Vineyards” by author and photographer Fred Lyon shares over 200 pages of his black and white photographs of vineyards from all over the world.

One thing I’ve yet to do is to learn more about wine pairings. I know that red wine goes well with beef and white wine with fish, but that’s the extent of my knowledge. I also know that there is a real art to wine pairings, so sometime soon I am going to check out “Fire + Wine” by Mary Cressler and Sean Martin. The authors are barbecue experts, Ms. Cressler is a master of wine, and they’re from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, so I’m guessing this would be a good place to start for a summer of grilling meats and drinking wine.


• “Fire + Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings” by Mary Cressler and Sean Martin.

• “Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey Through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine” by Jason Wilson.

• “The Homebuilt Winery: 43 Projects for Building and Using Winemaking Equipment” by Steve Hughes.

• “Know-It-All Wine: The 50 Essential Topics, Each Explained in Under a Minute” by Gerard Basset.

• “The Vineyard Years: A Memoir with Recipes” by Susan Sokol Blosser.

• “Vineyards” by Fred Lyon.

• “Wild Winemaking: Easy & Adventurous Recipes Going Beyond Grapes” by Richard W. Bender.

• “Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide from a World-Class Sommelier” by Aldo Sohm.