Summer Reading

New wine and spirits books to refresh your drink repertoire

review by Tara Q. Thomas, Rachel DelRocco
July 12, 2018

A User’s Manual to Drinking Well
Drinking Distilled (Ten Speed Press; $17) is not your usual cocktail guide. Author Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Clyde Common and Pépé Le Moko in Portland, Oregon, and he shares what he’s learned during 20-plus years of bartending to turn you into a proper drinker in any scenario. He describes how to efficiently execute a Bloody Mary brunch, how to hit on your bartender (don’t) and when and where it’s legal to carry a fl ask. The tips are timely, the recipes are simple and some of the anecdotes will make you laugh out loud. Whether you’re a seasoned bartender or a new cocktail devotee, you will surely find a way to relate. —R.D.

Wine by Meal
Wine Food: New Adventures in Drinking and Cooking (Ten Speed Press; $25) takes a novel approach to a cookbook, arranging the chapters by the feel of the event rather than by main ingredient—and by what wine you might want to pour. Portland, Oregon–based Dana Frank, once the sommelier at Dame, is now co-owner of Bow & Arrow, a winery and distributor. She makes the wine suggestions, dividing them among chapters devoted to brunch, picnics, exotic feasts or cozy nights in, offering background information on the varieties, as well as examples. Andrea Slonecker then riffs on the chosen wine with a recipe that relates to it in culture or flavor. Some of the combinations are straight-up classics, like le grand aioli with Provençal rosé; others present a familiar dish in a new guise, like deviled ham folded into a hand pie. Even if you never make it into the kitchen with the book, it makes good reading. Just go with one of the pairings listed on the “what to drink but don’t want to cook” cheat sheet. Poulsard with a ham-and-butter sandwich sounds like a good place to start. —T.Q.T.

Gin, Explained
UK-based gin expert David T. Smith delves deep into this juniperscented liquor in The Gin Dictionary (Mitchell Beazley; $20), an a-to-z guide covering everything from abv to Zanzibar. The format and brisk writing make the book terrific poolside reading—G&T in hand. He’s filled it with entries that illuminate the curious history and development of gin over time, from the essential place of juniper in its flavoring to the inclusion of ingredients like pomelo, peppermint and galangal. It’s also a handy reference if you want to compare major brands, or geek out over the details of vacuum distillation, rotovaping and pot stills. —R.D.

The Greek Wine Scene
Master of Wine Konstantinos Lazarakis is not only one of the most knowledgeable writers alive on the subject of Greek wines; he’s also one of the most enthusiastic. That energy comes through in his second edition of The Wines of Greece (Infinite Ideas; $45), updating the first, printed in 2005. His book covers all the bases, from history to grape varieties, wine laws and regions, but it’s the producer profiles that offer the most vivid feel for the place—the steadfast determination of Roxane Matsa, catalyst for Attika’s savatiano revolution; the French transplant Jerôme Charles Binda at Domaine de Kalanthos on Tinos, who’s now a regular exhibitor at RAW wine fairs; the brilliant but tortured Haridimos Hatzidakis, who challenged the status quo on Santorini every day of his far-too-short life. Lazarakis works as a wine distributor as well as an educator, and has noted the wineries with which he works; his fondness for his country’s wines seems to make any conflict of interest moot, as his appraisals come across fair and balanced. —T.Q.T.


This review appears in the print edtion of the August 2018 issue.
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