This year, wine sales have boomed in Britain as we all looked to treat ourselves during lockdown and perhaps expand our horizons on the occasions when we could eat out. Luckily, this season there is a bumper selection of books on wine, drinks in general and a particular boom in guides to pairings. Lisa Markwell pops a cork and turns the pages
This weighty tome promises “a chance to lift the veil on the dark art of sommeliers” and coming from the exclusive 67 Pall Mall, it certainly showcases serious knowledge. Co-author Ronan Sayburn describes in great depth everything about the world’s great wines (don’t come to the book looking for top tips for good buys below £10…) – from terroir to grapes varieties, characteristics of certain producers to classic and less expected pairings. Chef Marcus Verberne provides the recipes. You expect to read about steak matches, but there’s also the Australian Viognier that pairs like a dream with dukkah-encrusted cod with dried apricot falafel. A fancy book for fine wine completists.
£40, 67 Pall Mall
Hell, yeah. If there’s anything to lighten the mood as the darker months of dark 2020 descend, it’s this comprehensive guide to cocktails. As ever with Phaidon, this book is packed with information in a user-friendly, stylish format and author Adrienne Stillman starts with a thorough introduction to setting up your home bar – equipment, glasses, the spirits to have on hand and how to make great syrups and cordials. Once that’s done, allow your thirsty curiosity to stroll through a history- and geography-rich array of recipes for sours, refreshing, spirit forward, tiki and tropical, punches and finally coffee and dessert cocktails. Last man standing washes up the highball glasses…
It’s been out for a while, but this little book deserves a re-up for its very clever format that allows you to browse pairings from popcorn to pork chops, ramen to risotto and all points in between. Bert Blaize, who has form as a sommelier at many London restaurants and is now keeping a beady eye on new opening Birch, gives his wine expertise while Claire Strickett understands food and how our appetites work. This is a brilliant book for all occasions and budgets.
This is a ‘does what it says on the label’ book but none the worse for being straightforward and helpful. Raul Diaz writes and lectures on wine (you might have seen him on TV’s Sunday Brunch) and although by his own admission is not a professional chef, he’s put together simple recipes which pair well with wines accessible to all. This would be a good Christmas present for an entry-level wine fan who wants to get beyond Malbec and Bolognese.
I’m sure they worked damned hard, but life for Noble Rot’s founders Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew sure looks like fun. In this, their first book, they take a deep dive into the bottom of many and varied wine bottles. The Rotter’s road trip takes in all the grooviest producers in Europe and there are recipes for some of the desirable dishes on offer at their Lambs Conduit Street restaurant (Soho has only just opened). It’s as much a curl-up-and-read book as a kitchen guide, however with stellar contributors. Mind-expandingly good writing and eye-popping visuals make this a real treat not just for wannabe oenophiles but everyone really. One of my books of the year.
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