Sunday, December 14, 2003

Raise a glass to these wine books

The Associated Press

Wine books, small and large, make nice gifts for both connoisseurs and novices. Here are a few new titles to check out.

• Bordeaux: A Consumer's Guide to the World's Finest Wines (Simon & Schuster; $60) by Robert Parker is a "completely revised and updated" fourth edition of a classic by the respected author and publisher of The Wine Advocate. This is an exhaustive survey of France's most important wine region, packed with Parker's detailed research and brightened with punchy language.

• Fine French Wines (Flammarion; $29.95) by James Turnbull is a wider survey of French wines from all regions. In his introduction, Turnbull, who lives in France, describes the book as presenting the best estates and reviewing their growing and winemaking techniques and the styles of wine achieved. The book has handsome color photos of classic bottles and labels.

• The All-American Cheese and Wine Book (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; $37.50), by California-based food writer Laura Werlin, brings together many homegrown examples of a traditional pairing. Werlin matches fine artisanal cheeses with equally excellent wines being produced across America, providing guidelines and charts. She also includes profiles of cheese makers and wine makers, recipes, glossaries and lists of suppliers.

• If you want to develop further wine-pairing skills, there is also Renaissance Guide to Wine and Food Pairing (Alpha; $18.95) by Tony DiDio and Amy Zavatto, a wide-ranging, well-organized handbook to enjoying wine with many more foods besides cheese.

• Oz Clarke's New Encyclopedia of Wine (Harcourt, 2003; $22 paperback) is the noted wine writer's updated and revised softcover edition of a clearly written, well-illustrated 1999 book. As the jacket points out, its A-to-Z format covers "The complete world of wine from Abruzzo to zinfandel."

• If you particularly like zinfandel, take a look at Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and its Wine (California; $24.95) by Charles L. Sullivan, for a specialist view.

• Wine for Women (Morrow; $24.95) is a "guide to buying, pairing, and sharing wine" by Leslie Sbrocco, a California-based wine writer. No reason wine neophytes of either gender should not benefit from this helpful, sensibly presented information.

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