christmas wine photo featured

Making Spirits Bright: Books About Wine,
Beer, And Other Potent Potables

christmas wine photo featured

I was recently requested to recommend a book for a somewhat irascible relative of a friend of mine. I asked, “What are his hobbies? What does he like to do?” Without blinking an eye, she answered, “Drink.”  Madam, your wish is my command.

Wine connoisseurs can be hard to buy for, but one sure bet is THE FOOD LOVER’S GUIDE TO WINE. The authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, penned the popular “The Flavor Bible,” “What To Drink With What You Eat,” and the cult classic “Culinary Artistry.” Former weekly wine columnists for The Washington Post, they’ve been honored with James Beard Awards. In this much anticipated volume, the authors break down wine into flavors, and celebrates America’s place as one of the world’s great growers of fine wine.

Alice Feiring is a great proponent of NAKED WINE, which is free of chemicals and additives.Feiring is well qualified to write on the subject; she was the wine/travel columnist for “Time.” Not content to leave the task of creating natural wine to others, Feiring plunged in, and created delightful wine from her own crushed grapes and just a little sulfur. This is the story of her undertaking.

Argentina is now considered in the rank of the best wine nations in the world, but this wasn’t always true. As Ian Mount relates in THE VINEYARD AT THE END OF THE WORLD, it was first imperative that the country stage a wine revolution. Stretching back four hundred years to the arrival of the Spanish in the Andes, through the infusion of immigrants from Italy and France, up to the collapse of the wine dynasties in the 1970’s, Argentina has a rich tradition in wine that was worth reviving. Today, the once humble Malbec grape is revered.

While wine is becoming more popular with each passing year, the United States is primarily a beer drinking country, thanks largely to the influx of German brewing families. BREWED AWAKENING, by Joshua M. Bernstein, chronicles the rise of the micro brewing phenomenon. This is a well-illustrated walking tour of beers that are super-bitter, cask-conditioned, organic, gluten-free, and just about every other permutation. Great fun for anyone who’s ever lifted a stein.

Once you’re hooked on making your beer yourself, you need BROOKLYN BREW SHOP’S BEER MAKING BOOK, by Erica Shea & Stephen Valand. It features fifty-two seasonal recipes for making this popular drink in small batches. Promising you can make beer right in your own kitchen, there’s a variety of choices, including Peanut Butter Porter, Gingerbread Ale, and Rose Cheeked & Blonde.

For the sophisticate, nothing quenches like a cocktail. Jim Meehan and Chris Gall have perfectly captured the appeal in THE PDT COCKTAIL BOOK. This is a class offering, with heavy pages and unique comic book inspired illustrations. The PDT of the title is a little speakeasy hidden away in the East Village, accessible only via a vintage phone booth. A perfect present for the amateur- or professional- mixologist on your list.

There’s even a book for THE TIPSY VEGAN. John Schlimm features seventy-five boozy, spiked recipes to turn every vegan repast into happy hour. Schlimm is from one of the oldest brewing companies in America; his buzz inducing treats include Hot Toddy Tofu with Shiitakes, Three Tomatoes to the Wind Flan, and Wild Rice Under the Influence.

There’s absolutely something for everyone who enjoys a nice holiday drink every now and then; so lift a glass, give a toast, and enjoy.

Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist, who has more than a passing acquaintance with liquid refreshment, and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively about food, drink, and books, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com

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Beer, And Other Potent Potables

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