A particular swath of history is the focus of Joel Butler and Randall Heskett’s “Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail From Genesis to the Modern Age” ($27, Palgrave Macmillan). Mixing research and interpretations of the Bible, the authors examine the surprisingly wide range of wines a few millenniums back and, of course, that whole water-into-wine deal (which I had not known was Jesus’ first miracle).
Examining much newer vinous regions, “Wines of the Southern Hemisphere” ($24.95, Sterling Epicure) finds Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen surveying vineyards and vintners on three continents (Africa, Australia and South America) in encyclopedic fashion.
For more intimate reading, check out ”A Vineyard in Napa” ($29.95, University of California Press), in which Doug Shafer and Andy Demsky recount how Doug’s father, John, left a cushy Chicago job at age 47 and forged one of America’s very best wineries. (Wine Spectator named the 2008 Shafer Relentless its wine of the year last week.) Full disclosure: I have met all three men and winemaker Elias Fernandez and admire them mightily. You will, too, after soaking in this captivating saga.