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Reading between the wines

Often, after the busyness and festivities of the winter holidays, some folks like to hop on the boozeless lolly cart of January: Slower days, more quiet and time for self reflection during the deeper days of winter.

That, of course, doesn’t mean you must stop learning, or even enjoying the cultures of the fruit of the vine.

So, just for you, dear reader, here’s a small collection of eclectic suggestions for curling up with a good book — with or without wine. The narrative of wine is both ancient and modern. I’ve chosen books that read as stories rather than textbooks. Each is educational and entertaining. Along with a brief book description, I’ve included reading notes taken from the wine world.

History

“9000 Years of Wine: A World History” - Rod Phillips, wine writer and historian, gives an integral and detailed study of wine, historical and cultural, through the ages. Indulgent and illustrious. Dense and complex.

“Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail From Genesis to The Modern Age” - An “odyssey of biblical wine country” co-written by a biblical scholar, Randall Heskett, and Joel Butler, a wine educator. Although based in biblical writings, the book is nonreligious and presents more of a spiritual journey of humankind. Opulent, but balanced. Connected and concentrated.

“The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine” - Todd Kliman’s book reads like a novel by telling American history through the story of American winemaking. Earthy, big and chewy ... with a dash of spice.

“Vignette: Stories of Love & Wine in 100 Bottles” - Master sommelier Jane Lopes is a true storyteller and lover of wine and life. You want to learn? She’ll take you there, and you’ll enjoy every palate. Expressive, bright, finesse, with a silky finish.

Novels

“Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury - Classic vintage by an iconic storyteller. Buttery, grassy, rich.

Cozy Wine Mysteries - What can I say ... they’re fun. Mysteries, secrets and wine, oh my! Some are tannic, others sweet. Definitely complex, often jammy, medium body, with a short, crisp finish. “The Wine Country Mysteries Series” by Ellen Crosby take place in Virginia and weave in the history of the area. Pairs well with “The Wild Vine” above.

“A Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries Series” by Philip R. Craig - Ex-cop, action, somewhat literary, sense-of-place recipes.

“Sonoma Wine Country Cozy Mysteries” by A.J. Carton - Food and wine. Even some romance.

Books for fun and frivolity

“Wine Memories: Great Writers on the Pleasures of Wine” - Memorable short writings. Old wine labels.

“Are You My Wine?: A Children’s Book Parody for Adults Exploring the World of Wine” by Reese Ling - Illustrated spoof. Spend some time with the animals at their happy hour. You may never look at wine the same again.

Coloring books - because, why not?

“Creative Haven Wine Time” by Jo Taylor

“Wine Life” by Papeterie Bleu

Galileo said, “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” May the light stream through as you read between the wines, and your glass be ever refillable. Welcome to 2021.

Reach Paula Bandy at pbthegrapevine@gmail.com.