Jeff’s Corner 12-9-22

Howdy, and Ho, Ho, Ho to all!

Well, if you are at all like me, you are still scrambling for a few last minute gifts. If you’re shopping for someone that has a passion for wine and loves books, I suggest a book about wine. Over the years I’ve amassed quite a collection, and today I’ll share a few that I feel confident almost all wine-lovers would be delighted to find under their tree.

For over 25 years, my go-to quick reference guide has been “Wine Lover’s Companion” by Ron Herbst and Sharon Tyler Herbst. Now in its fourth edition (I have the first at work and the second at my desk where I write) it features around 4000 wine-related terms and phrases. I can maybe count on one hand the number of times I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

In addition to its encyclopedic entries, the appendix is over 100 pages with  useful info on grape varieties, how to read labels (with examples), serving temperatures, glassware, a great glossary, and much more.  This book has taught me how to pronounce wine words I’d mispronounced for years…

If I were still teaching wine classes, I would select “Wine Folly Magnum Edition” by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack for my textbook. It is incredibly informative and extremely accessible to individuals at all levels of expertise.

“Wine Folly” is jam-packed with easy to understand colorful graphics and includes great info on how wine is made, how to taste wine, and how to serve and store it.  It also features in-depth sections on food and wine pairing, grape varieties, and the style of wines they produce, and wine regions around the world.  PLUS, it’s available for sale in our tasting room and is discounted if you are a Wine Club member!

History has always fascinated me, and wine history, has always played a prominent role in Jeff’s Corner. One of my favorite lesser-known books is “Judgement of Paris” by George M. Taber.

“Judgement of Paris” is the story of the historic Paris wine tasting in 1976 that changed how the world perceived French wine and globalized the wine industry. The movie “Bottle Shock” is a wonderful Hollywood version of this historic event. The competition matched the greatest Burgundian chardonnays and red Bordeaux blends against the upstart California Cabernets and Chards.  

The California wines won, the wine-world was in shock, and French wine began to lose its grip on global dominance. In addition to detailed notes about the tasting itself, “Judgement” is full of fascinating insights into the early fears of the California wine renaissance and the pioneers that made it possible.

Finally, “The Winemaker” by Dr. Richard G. Peterson is an autobiography written about his historic role in the rebirth of California wine. The book has won numerous awards and spans well over 50 years of his pivotal role in our industry, including his early years when he joined Gallo in 1958 as a food chemist, and when he took over as winemaker in 1968 at Beaulieu Vineyards from the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff.

A few years ago, I had the incredible honor to sit on a panel with him and one other judge for three days and judge the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. I have a lot of books, but this may be one of my most coveted. I got my copy from him, and it’s signed “To Jeff, a great wine judge.  With my best regards, Dick Peterson.”