Wine (and Whiskey) Books of 2022

For years Andrew Jefford has been one of the English language’s most thought-provoking writers and wine artists. He is never willing to talk or repeat old tales. Almost always, he is the first and most provocative person, although he is by no means the driver.

“Drinking with the Valkyries: Writings on Wine” (Academie du Vin Library, $35) is a collection of his books published in wine journals over the past decade or so. Mostly short and easy to digest, they can be eaten here and there, but it’s even more fun to sit down with them over time to understand the depth of his curiosity and insight.

“Japanese beauty rescues the rejection of nature,” he writes about koshu, a grape and wine grown mainly in the Yamanashi region of Japan. He reflects on the secret of a white Lebanese wine from the famous Château Musar that at first smelled like “wood and green beans,” but after four days it changed: “In the end I love its smell , he’s sweeter than ever. , as if the evening had become dawn, the bakers were baking, and they sprinkled their bread with olive oil and pressed lemons.”

Mr. Jefford, who is English, has been all over the world and now lives in France. When he’s not writing about wine, Mr. Jefford is a poet, and he’s more interested in the poetry of wine — the thoughts it transports and the dreams it inspires — than the technical details. Sometimes the language feels forced, as if you decided clarity was necessary for the main image. But most of the time he keeps watching and enjoys reading.

“Sense of place” is a term often applied to wine that describes the characteristics and personality of the area where the grapes were grown and the people and culture that produce them. “A Sense of Place: A Journey Around Scottish Whiskey” by Dave Broom (Mitchell Beazley, $50), makes a convincing case that it applies equally to Scottish single malts.

Mr. Broom, who was born in Glasgow and has been writing about ghosts for decades, is the perfect author for this beautiful, provocative book. He knows the whiskey landscape intimately, and has a sense of wonder, empathy and history to tie it all together, as well as a knack for bringing out the smell of salty air, the sound of barley shine in the air. , the rattle of hammers turning brass into barriers and the creaking of oak poles as they bend in the fire.

This is not a whiskey guide or atlas, although you may want to refer to a few of Mr. Broom’s other books, such as “Whiskey: The Manual” and “The World Atlas of Whiskey,” for this book’s journey to around Scotland. Mr Broom travels from the Orkney Islands in the north-east to Islay in the south-west, visiting artisan distillers, garage distillers and megadistilleries. He designs characters and environments and finds connections, with whiskey as the centerpiece and linchpin connecting the past and the present.

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