Book Review: 'Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties...'

Astonishing and encyclopedic, a necessity for wine lovers

We can only imagine what an incredible joy it was to receive a copy of Jean-Jacques Audubon’s gorgeous Birds of America.

For wine lovers, the new book Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz (Ecco, 1280pp, $175) is every bit as astonishing and encyclopedic as it is a necessity for oenophiles everywhere.

Photo courtesy of Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson is on a roll with reference books. She also wrote The Oxford Companion to Wine and was the co-author (with Hugh Johnson) of The World Atlas of Wine. Combining the three books would cost between $180 and $300, depending on where you buy them. That’s a stiff outlay, but you would possess a masterful reference library in just three volumes.

There are all sorts of wine lovers. Some love the panning-for-gold feeling of scanning the aisles for ridiculous bargains. Others are happy to spend a huge amount of money just to impress their friends. I have no doubt the latter group will snap this book up and lay it out for all to see. But what I would really love to see is the former group get copies and use them till the pages are covered with wine stains, hand-written notes, and lists of the best wineries for each of the grapes.

Like Audubon’s opus, Wine Grapes is by necessity just a smidge behind the times as soon as it’s published because viticulturists are always discovering new grapes. Luckily, Robinson’s own website will be keeping abreast of these events.

Jancis Robinson (Photo courtesy of Jancis Robinson)

Back to Birds of America. A copy recently sold for $12 million. I’m not sure a copy of Wine Grapes will ever fetch that kind of money, but I have no doubt, for those of us who love wine, this will end up at a similar level of importance.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More wine
What Would a 100% Tariff on Wine Look Like?
What Would a 100% Tariff on Wine Look Like?
Spoiler alert: You might want to stock up now

Jessi Devenyns, Jan. 22, 2020

Every Day is Rosé Day!
Every Day is Rosé Day!
But on June 9th it's official!

Emily Beyda, June 8, 2018

More by Wes Marshall
Weekend Wine: Boxed Wines for the Current Reality
Weekend Wine: Boxed Wines for the Current Reality
Wine tastes even better during quarantine

April 4, 2020

Weekend Wine: Rich Red Malbec Fresh from Argentina
Weekend Wine: Rich Red Malbec Fresh from Argentina
High Note's wine stands up to winter's best comfort food dishes

Feb. 8, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

wine, Wine Grapes, Jancis Robinson, John James Audobon, Birds of America, The Oxford Companion to Wine, Hugh Johnson, The Atlas of Wine, Gift Guide 2012

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle