Another Wine-themed Diversion While Sheltering in Place

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As I’m penning this week’s column, it feels like a typical mid-April spring day. Blue skies, the sun beating down while the air is still crisp and tulips ushering in the cascade of spring color from flowering bulbs and bushes.

But, unfortunately, it’s not a typical spring day. It’s a day during which I’m otherwise confined to sheltering in place as we all fight this deadly virus that has upended our lives.

So what am I to do to persevere through these dark days? Remote working still goes on, but my days have free time that I’ve rarely enjoyed in the past. Now beginning my fifth week of life on pause, I’ve exhausted many of the diversions that were once invigorating but now lack excitement.

Especially those with a wine theme. I’ve exhausted viewing the list of wine-themed movies I recommended a few columns back. The Zoom wine tastings I partook in with friends, as I suggested in another recent column, reminded me that digital reality is no substitute for physical reality. What next?

And then it hit me. I went to the wine books section of my home library shelves. Browsing through the titles, I noticed books not yet read and those worthy of a second read. I now have a new wine-themed diversion.

Allow me to offer for your consideration several of the books on my shelf, grouped by topic. These books transport me to vineyards, wineries and locales where wine has flourished for centuries. The places, people and science remind me that wine is an integral component of the intricate fiber that constitutes our society.

Space restricts the length of my list and any meaningful descriptions. For most books, the subtitle provides an enticing summary of the subject matter. Feel free to contact me for a more comprehensive list.

1. A Deep Dive into the Science
“Oxford Companion to Wine” by Jancis Robinson. Google in hard copy, and remarkably on one Google website.
“Kevin Zraly Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, 2019 Edition.” Chock-full of interesting tidbits; an amazing four million copies sold.
“Winetaster’s Secrets: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Art of Wine Tasting” by Andrew Sharp.
“Native Wine Grapes of Italy,” by Ian D’Agata. Everything you ever wanted to know.

2. A Practical Understanding of Wine
“Secrets of the Sommeliers” by Rajat Parr and Jordan MacKay.
“Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food with Wine” by François Chartier.

3. Views of the Wine Industry
“Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste” by Bianca Bosker.
“Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures” by Paul Lukacs.
“Napa” by James Conaway. Excellent history of the pioneering families and vintners.

4. Traveling the World
“In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism” by George M. Taber.
“Vanilla Beans and Brodo: Real Life in the Hills of Tuscany by Isabella Dusi.
“A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. His first, a classic.

5. Reflections by Wine Professionals
“Passion on the Vine” by Sergio Esposito.
“Reflections of a Wine Merchant on a Lifetime in the Vineyards and Cellars of France and Italy” by Neal I. Rosenthal.
“The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land” by Ferenc Máté.

6. Reads Like a Novel
“The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine” by Benjamin Wallace.
“In Vino Duplicitas: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire” by Peter Hellman.
“The Road to Burgundy: The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France” by Ray Walker.
“Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure” by Donald and Petie Kladstrup.

7. Fiction
“The Vintage Caper” by Peter Mayle.
“Nose” by James Conaway.
“The Winemaker’s Wife” by Kristin Harmel. Resisting the German occupation of the Champagne region during World War II.
Go to your favorite reading spot at home (or outdoors if it’s a beautiful spring day), curl up with one of these books (binge reading is acceptable) and a glass of wine (after 5 p.m. of course). And pray for a return to a state of reasonable normalcy.

Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years, he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine journalists. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at or on Twitter @sharingwine.

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