My Top five wine books

Looking for some great wine reads? James Payne of Douneside House takes us through the tomes that he’s found most useful and inspiring down the years.

1001 Wines you must try before you die (revised edition) edited by Neil Beckett, Octopus

So, how many have you tried/served?

What I most enjoy about this collection of Icon wines of the 20th century is the introduction to each wine by a specific journalist, likely to be a specialist of the given region or country of production. The selection is truly a wish list, right down to the best vintage. Having served over 500 of the entries during my career, I would attest to their greatness and rightful place in this book.

The New Spain by John Radford, Mitchell Beazley

Radford, undisputed king of Spain

A brilliant presentation of the watershed era when modern Spanish wines were gaining global recognition as new classics. The acknowledgment of traditional wine styles is also wonderfully and authoritatively described. John was our inspirational lecturer for Spain at WSET diploma level in the mid 1990s.

Vintage Wine (second edition) by Michael Broadbent, Pavilion Books

From one of the world’s great palates

As a young sommelier it was such an education to read and learn from the detailed tasting notes with such succinct descriptive vocabulary on specific vintages of the greatest wines of the World. Very useful to assist in buying these wines because of the unique assessment of their potential quality and current state of evolution. It was a privilege to have witnessed Mr Broadbent with a gavel in his hand presiding over wine auctions at Christie’s South Kensington.

Port and The Douro by Richard Mayson (revised edition), Infinite Ideas Classic Wine Library

Great place, great book

A specialist book tracing a path through the timeline of development of this UNESCO heritage region of outstanding geographic beauty and importance to the modern Portuguese wine industry. Authoritative and accessible prose from an author who spends a great deal of time on the ground in the vineyards and cellars with some of the most highly regarded producers to gain the deepest insights into what drives quality. Richard was our WSET diploma tutor for Portugal.

Wine Folly, A Visual Guide to the World of Wine by Madeline Puckette & John Hammack, Penguin

Brilliant intro to the world of wine

What a revelation this uniquely well designed introduction to wine represents! I have given it to colleagues to help them ‘get into’ wine. 

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