Christmas gifts for wine lovers don’t have to stop at bottles and gadgets—there’s a world of wine books and cookbooks to delight them too.
There are many ways to consume wine, whether by a sip of a favorite bottle or a forkful of beef bourguignon, and also in the avid consumption of information about a topic whose nuances transect history, geography, meteorology, religion, gastronomy, and good, old-fashioned pleasure (just to name a few).
There are also many ways to cook with wine, though it would seem that the two most popular are: follow recipes that include wine in the ingredients, and pour yourself a glass to enjoy while you cook. It goes without saying that these approaches are not mutually exclusive, and dare I say, rather recommended as compatible processes.
Related Reading: The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers in 2019
For those in your life whose cooking process begins with an uncorking, regardless of whether any part of the bottle will get upended into the pot, as well as those who consider knowledge the more intoxicating part of a storied, alcoholic beverage, these 10 cookbooks and guides should serve as inspiration for grand cru wining and dining, where you, the generous gift-giver, definitely also stand to benefit.
For the beginning wine aficionado in your life, try “Wine Folly,” Madeline Puckette’s James Beard Award-winning original cuvée: a brilliant, infographic approach to tasting wine that provides color wheels to highlight common tasting notes among the world’s most popular grapes, along with contextualizing details such as regional specificity (i.e., why sauvignon blanc from New Zealand tastes different than sauv blanc from France.) In The Magnum Edition, the same approach is applied to over 100 grapes, with added sections on demystifying European labelling systems, and understanding structure: the interplay between sweetness, acid, tannin, and alcohol.Buy Now
“Grasping the Grape: Demystifying Grape Varieties to Help You Discover the Wines You Love” by Maryse Chevriere, $14.39 on Amazon
Another approachable wine guide, this is like a pocket-size sommelier that introduces beginners to the world’s most prolific wine grapes and regions. There’s also other useful information like tasting terminology, tips on how to read a wine label, and basic wine pairing essentials—all written in the voice of a beloved, helpful bestie who knows their stuff but is never pretentious about it.Buy Now
“Wine Food: New Adventures in Drinking and Cooking” by Diana Frank and Andrea Slonecker, $22.50 on Amazon
Wine pairing refers to the elusive interplay between what you are drinking with what you are eating. Diana Frank, natural wine bar and winery owner, turns the table on the usual approach, by putting the wine first, describing the characteristics in taste and texture of a popular wine, and then offering a recipe to complement it, along with context about why it works. Wines and their counterpart dishes cover a range of occasions, from brunch, to formal, to Tuesday. Whimsical watercolor illustrations also add to its heady nature.Buy Now
“The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Need to Know” by Jon Bonné, $7.99 on Amazon
This light, tight wine guide has the easy approachability of your favorite pinot grigio. Perfect for the wine lover in your life who’d like a little more info, rather than just defaulting to the second-least expensive selection, but doesn’t want to get too high brow about it. According to wine writer Jon Bonné, price is not necessarily reflective of quality. Cerebral discussions of terroir and vintage variation are eschewed in favor of democratic tenets such as “Drink the Rainbow” and “it’s never the wrong time to drink rosé.” Take the tedium out of wine adjectives by learning the eight you’ll ever need: fruity, herbal, spicy, dry, tannic, mineral, animal, and rustic. (Animal? Better buy a copy for yourself, too.)Buy Now
Food writer Fiona Beckett takes cooking with wine to its ultimate expression: the inclusion of wine along all possible meals and categories. Wine for breakfast, wine for dessert, wine in friggin’ salad. For example: Radicchio and Blue Cheese Salad with Moscatel and Honey Dressing. Beckett also incorporates a variety of varietals and styles; cooking with wine is not limited to just crisp whites for deglazing a pan. See “Moscatel,” above, and feel free to have me over when you make Chestnut, Mushroom, and Madeira Tarts.Buy Now
Like other texts with similar names, “The Wine Bible” is a manuscript of a certain length that devotees of its particular wisdom will find themselves returning to over and over. The beauty of Karen MacNeil’s writing is that one might find it equally filled with psalms and parables, transformation and drama. The foreword alone begins with rather stirring imagery illustrating the author’s fondness for Spain and its especially animal-forward wine. You’ll learn a ton about wine, without ever realizing you’re reading the preeminent textbook on the matter. Buy Now
Compiled by the editorial team of Food and Wine Magazine, the fun of this cookbook is in its variety. The world’s most popular grapes and styles are each given 15 or more recipes to demonstrate different approaches to pairing, from mirroring to contrast, to quotable tenets such as “what grows together, goes together.” Far from just a singular culinary point of view, recipes are as diverse as the wines themselves: from plush and off-dry like Ina Garten, to grippy and robust like Sofia Coppola.Buy Now
“Natural Wine for the People: What It Is, Where to Find It, How to Love It” by Alice Feiring, $13.89 on Amazon
There are trends in wine, and then there are revolutions. Natural wine and its devotees belong to the latter category. Natural wine is an unstoppable force, generally referring to the practice of making wine with as little vintner intervention as possible. James Beard Award-winner Alice Feiring offers a pithy and charming manual for being as in-the-know about this phenomenon, including best natural wine producers as well as restaurants and shops where it can be found.Buy Now
“Wine Bites: Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine” by Barbara Scott-Goodman, $14.84 on Amazon
Is the wine lover in your life also a snack lover? A perfectly elegant way to entertain with wine without the structure of a full, sit-down, multi-course meal is a classic cocktail party format, sub wines for the cocktails. Small bites from salty to sweet and the wines that love them are delineated by snack category, i.e. Dips, Seafood, Fried Bites, etc. Wine and dip? Game changer. Includes a bonus category on assembling a perfect cheese plate.Buy Now
The truest study of wine begins with the map, understanding the rivers that carve the slopes for some of the world’s most sought-after wines, the fossil beds that create the soils that transmit themselves so clearly into the glass, and the relationship to the equator that dictates the ripeness of respective grapes. In the way great wines are balanced between fruit, acid, and alcohol, Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson’s tome is balanced between scholarship, coffee-table appeal, and geekiness. Buy Now
“Season: Wine Country Food, Farming, & Friends” by Justin Wangler and Tracey Shepos Cenami, $31.40 on Amazon
“Season” is a farm-to-table cookbook approach where the farm is within striking distance of a vineyard, and Master Sommeliers rub elbows with those that work the land. A celebration of the United States’ grand dame of wine, California, and its seasonal mindset, Wangler’s and Cenami’s book is as much about cooking and entertaining as it is about planting and harvesting.Buy Now
See our best food and drink gift guide for even more ideas.
Header image courtesy of Amazon.