Book Reviews from W&S December 2021 - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Book Reviews from W&S December 2021

Photo by Nick Mrozowski

Bubbles All the Time

We may not be out of the woods yet, but we’re close enough that a glass of bubbly doesn’t seem as out of place as it might have in the darkest days of the pandemic. Sparkling Wine Anytime offers extra encouragement in the form of a world tour of sparklers, from simple pét-nats to complex single-vineyard Champagnes. Katherine Cole lays out the basics behind the bubbles with clarity and wit, then highlights standout bottles, from biodynamic Champagne made by Marie Courtin to Brazilian brut and Broc Cellars’ pink valdigiué pétillant. Expert opinions from the likes of Anne Krebeihl, MW, (on German Sekt); Chevonne Ball (on Beaujolais); Shelley Lindgren (on Campania); and many more offer an inside line on bottles to seek out, while they also offer compelling arguments for choosing sparkling wine anytime, and anywhere. ­—Tara Q. Thomas
Sparkling Wine Anytime by Katherine Cole
(Abrams Books, 2021; $25)

Settlement Wine

When it comes to agriculture, vineyards have unusual power. They imbue a place with an air of sophistication that most crops just can’t match; they also signal the caretaker’s long-term commitment to a place, as it takes years for vines to fully mature and produce grapes for fine, long-lived wine. In fact, vineyards were often on the front lines of Europe’s colonial past. Owen White, a history professor at the University of Delaware, documents the role vineyards played in the French colonization of Algeria in The Blood of the Colony. From the burning of ancient olive groves and villages to make way for grapevines to the trade machinations that ensured Algerian wine wouldn’t take market share away from France, White traces France’s role in turning a largely Muslim country into a powerhouse wine producer before abandoning the vines when the country gained independence in 1962. Told with energy and riveting detail, it’s a fascinating—and sobering—tale that touches on issues of politics, race relations, economics and environmental sustainability that remain integral to the conversation around wine today. —T.Q.T.
The Blood of the Colony: Wine and the Rise and Fall of French Algeria by Owen White
(Harvard University Press, 2021; $40)

Points South

The first edition of The South America Wine Guide, by Amanda Barnes, is a reference book in the truest sense of the word, including detailed text, maps, photos and recipes. The tome is a complement to the website (, where more detailed vintage guides and winery profiles can be found. Barnes organizes the book by country, including chapters on Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, in addition to the more front-of-mind wine countries like Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. She offers detailed histories, chief varieties, notable producers and terroir-expressive wines to seek out. Small profiles feature quotes from prominent winegrowers on their philosophies.

While giving the reader a clear and detailed picture, both historical and contemporary, of South America’s wine, this book is meant to get you there. And, once you’ve arrived, to get you around. Barnes leans on her background as a travel writer with tips on driving, safety and hotels in each of the chapters. Besides, many of the wines she features are not exported—including a number of pipeños, the rustic wines made by farmers working with ancient país vines in Chile. ­—Corey Warren
The South America Wine Guide by Amanda Barnes
£35 (E-Book £35, also available digitally by chapter)

is W&S’s editor at large and covers the wines of the Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe for the magazine.

Corey Warren is the Tastings Editor in addition to covering the wines of the Loire, Southern France, Argentina and South Africa.

This story appears in the print issue of December 2021.
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