Essential Wine Lovers’ Guide: Must-Read Books, Shows to Watch, and Podcasts to Listen To

By | 26 March 2024

Looking for inspiration? Here are the best things to read, watch and listen to for wine lovers. We’ve picked out some of the top wine-related books, TV shows, podcasts and more for your enjoyment!

by Alex Gambal

Subtitled How an American came to own a legendary vineyard in France, this memoir tells the tale of Gambal’s journey from Washington DC to Burgundy. It reveals how he managed to acquire some of the most coveted vineyard land in the region (the first non-Frenchman to own Montrachet grand cru vines) and set up a boutique winery that he went on to sell to Burgundy’s Boisset family in 2019.

This updated version of Oz’s 2015 book The History of Wine in 100 Bottles charts the history of wine and winemaking through 100 specific, significant bottles. New chapters cover phenomena that have had a significant impact over the last decade: climate change (and how it has transformed grape-growing in the UK), orange wines, natural wines, alternative packaging and wildfires.

Highlighting its full title, Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation and Drinking Too Much, this is an authentic memoir penned by celebrated US wine author Natalie MacLean. The book details her journey in overcoming her personal and career upheavals. She offers a peek into the experience of being a female professional in the heavily male-centric wine industry, while also suggesting some of her top wine picks. This is a book that is brutally honest, emotionally raw, and inspiringly uplifting.

Employing his typical captivating style, US wine editor Ray Isle seeks to aid his readers in choosing more delectable, fascinating, and eco-friendly wines that won’t strain your budget. Isle begins by explaining how organic / biodynamic/ sustainable/ regenerative wines are cultivated, and why it’s important, before introducing his top independent wineries globally that operate ‘in ways that benefit the planet, rather than screw it up’.

A bottle from Bordeaux’s Liber Pater winery can fetch upwards of US$30,000. This documentary puts the spotlight on Loïc Pasquet, the man behind the label, who has spent time behind bars for his defying Bordeaux’s farming laws and practices. The film gives a unique look into Pasquet’s unyielding stand on wanting to operate on his own terms. Apple TV link, £8.99 or link, $7.99 to lease for one week)

Available to view in the US on the Tastemade channel, and co-produced with Constellation Brands, Street Somm features self-taught wine expert and hip-hop businessperson Jermaine Stone. Stone journeys across six famed food destinations in the US, ranging from New York to San Francisco, and various places in between. Each episode pairs Stone with a different professional in the food industry, while also showcasing unique dishes, surprising wine pairings and the stories behind them all.

During this summer, Sam Povey, a wine educator, embarked on a unique challenge. He aimed to barter his way from a basic bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz to a highly priced bottle of Domaine de la Romanée Conti’s Romanée Conti, carrying his social media followers along on his journey. This challenge is unfolding on his engaging and insightful Instagram account, By the time Decanter‘s November issue was published, he had made progress up to the Domaine Coffinet-Duvernay, Bâtard-Montrachet GC 2018.

Master Sommelier Stefan Neumann hosts this comprehensive online video course that caters to wine enthusiasts, especially those preparing for blind tasting examinations. The course consists of fifty videos divided into nine learning units that span three hours in total. The course content includes identifying the grape variety, region, and vintage without seeing the bottle, alongside tips for enhancing sensory vigilance, constructing taste profiles, and building vocabulary.

The popular learning and quiz app is now updated and available for iOS, with Android availability on the horizon. The app offers learners bite-sized chunks of material covering various aspects like key vineyard regions, viticulture, the process of winemaking, and different wine styles. An exciting new daily two-minute quiz pits users against the same set of ten questions, enabling them to test their knowledge. The app is free to download. However, an annual subscription, priced at £20, unlocks all 1,500 questions spanned across 82 modules.

Katherine Cole, a well-known wine journalist based in Oregon, serves as the executive producer and presenter for this James Beard Award-winning podcast. This podcast shares weekly episodes that delve into trending wine-related news, making it an effortless and fun way of staying updated. With a blend of serious and light-hearted stories, and the typical episode length of 20 minutes, this podcast is perfect for those who want to stay informed on the go or during short breaks.

Produced by the proprietors of Madrid wine shop and tasting haven Madrid & Darracott, this specialized Spanish wine podcast features approximately 180 episodes with the advent of Series 3. It features an in-depth exploration of popular regions and styles like Rioja and Cava, in addition to catering to those starting to explore Spain’s lesser-known wines – anyone up for a glass of Tostado do Ribeiro? Available on Apple Podcasts

For ‘Professor David Nutt’ fans, a brief podcast search will yield numerous stand-alone episodes from varying series where the celebrated neuropsychopharmacologist and previous UK Government advisor elucidates the science behind alcohol consumption. Concurrently, at Wine Blast (S4, E13), hosts Susie Barrie MW and Peter Richards MW engage Professor Tim Spector in a dialogue on wine and the microbiome, emphasizing how moderate intake of red wine can augment gut health.

Curious about the specifics of being Decanter magazine’s editor? Unearth these insights through a noteworthy ‘Careers in Wine’ segment on Italian sommelier Mattia Scarpazza’s Looking Into Wine podcast. The discussion with Amy Wislocki, a prominent figure at the magazine for 23 years and counting, delves into themes like the transformation of Decanter over the years, strategies for thriving as a wine writer, and the magazine’s survival tactics throughout the pandemic.

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