The best wine and spirits books 2023

Collage of wines and spirits book covers

This year has been interesting, if challenging, with social, political and economic volatility keeping news streams lively and baffling. The overall instability has fuelled a hunger for analysis and context, in turn shedding new light on the past couple of decades.

The wine and spirits publishing year reflected this general mood, with outstanding titles covering a wide range of regions and issues with depth, insight, wit and critical thinking.


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Beyond the inevitable reference titles (on which 2023 also did not disappoint, not least with the release of a revised, fifth edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine), the titles below offer something more: context, analysis and a platform to discuss broader issues.

The release of these excellent books might have been overshadowed by the multiple challenges the wine, spirits and hospitality industries experienced in 2023 (staff shortages, duty increases, inflation, etc). They should not, however, be overlooked; many of them will surely become even more relevant in years to come. And they all make for interesting, though-provoking and beautiful Christmas gifts.


Best wine books 2023

The New French Wine – Redefining the World’s Greatest Wine Culture

by Jon Bonné, published by Ten Speed Press
Available from Amazon UK

Jon Bonné’s nine-year research on the deep transformation of the French wine landscape since the turn of the millennium, has yielded a comprehensive and insightful two-volume opus. The work puts Bonné’s conversational and witty style to good use, delivering a personal, opinionated account of the momentous changes – cultural, historic and socio-economic – that changed the way the French produce and drink wine. A truly fascinating and thought-provoking read that raises deep questions about how France (and Europe) positions itself in the world today – as a leading wine producing country and otherwise.

The Complete Bordeaux Vintage Guide: 150 Years from 1870 to 2020

by Neal Martin, published by Quadrille Publishing
Available from Amazon UK

Rather than merely listing growing conditions and regional variability, Neal Martin takes readers on a journey back in time. Each vintage is put in historical, cultural, social and economic context, making this volume much more than a factual Bordeaux reference book (which it also is). Although playful, Martin’s tone and approach are no less informative and informed, bridging spiritedness and erudition with ease.

How to Drink Australian – An Essential Modern Wine Book

by Jane Lopes and Jonathan Ross, published by Murdoch Books
Available from Amazon UK

American-born Lopes and Ross developed a love for the diversity and exciting evolution of the Australian wine scene while working as sommeliers in the antipodean country. Now back in the US – where they launched an import business dedicated exclusively to Australian pours – they have also worked hard to produce this wonderful book that captures the complexities, stories and many nuances of one of the world’s most important wine producing nations. Technical, historical and geographic information is delivered alongside profiles of key producers, while acknowledging the presence and role of the native peoples of Australia – an important debate with which Australian producers are increasingly engaging.

Vintage Crime: A Short History of Wine Fraud

by Rebecca Gibb MW, published by University of California Press
Available from Amazon UK

A condensed, enjoyable and insightful overview of the many ways in which, since it has existed, wine has been adulterated, ‘bettered’ and counterfeited. By analysing the many altering processes (ill-intended or not), cons and heists involving the precious nectar, Gibb raises interesting and timely questions about the nature of wine itself, the complexities of the industry and the concepts of fault, fraud and authenticity. That Gibb does so in an approachable and engaging way…


Source : https://www.decanter.com/spirits/the-best-wine-and-spirits-books-2023-519123/

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