clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Best Books About Booze, and What to Drink With Them

Read about the woman who revived Veuve Clicquot and sip a glass of her Champagne

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.


Pairings aren't just for wine and cheese. Below, 10 great booze-related books, plus author suggested beverages in which to imbibe while reading.

1) Book: The Widow Clicquot
Author: Tilar J. Mazzeo
What to drink: Veuve Clicquot NV Brut

Reading about the Widow Clicquot’s tenacity adds a new edge to her wildly popular Champagne. In 1805, the young widow took over the flailing French Champagne house she had married into, and revived it to its current glory. She effected change on all Champagne through inventing the remuage (riddling) method of separating a wine's sediment. While reading this book, author Tilar J. Mazzeo suggests drinking Veuve Clicquot's nonvintage brut, as that Champagne "made the Clicquot yellow famous," she explains. But for those willing to shell out a little extra, Mazzeo recommends Veuve Clicquot's Cuvée St. Petersburg, "which is a modern Champagne made in the style of the days of Madame Clicquot, with the higher residual sugar preferred especially by the Russian aristocrats who first helped to make her famous."

Image courtesy of The Widow Clicquot

2) Book: Tignanello
Author: Marchese Piero Antinori
What to drink: 2012 Antinori Tignanello

Antinori wines are central in Italy's Super-Tuscan wine revolution of the 1970s. As one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the world, the story of Antinori wine dates back to the late 1300s. Written by Marchese Piero Antinori who runs the vineyard, this book tells the story of the wine that brought the vineyard to international fame, and with that, he offers a pairing: "The 2012 Antinori Tignanello is the perfect wine to drink with my book. Not only is the wine the namesake of the book’s title, but it represents the true greatness that can take shape when we apply the right mixture of talent, passion, and dedication to our work."

Image courtesy of Tignanello

3) Book: The Brewer's Tale
Author: William Bostwick
What to drink: Dogfish Head's Ta Henket

William Bostwick takes readers on a trip back in time to learn about the world’s ancient beer making past, going far back to ancient Babylon and tracking brewing methods and philosophy through modern times. Bostwick explains, "Most of the beers and beer styles I researched for The Brewer’s Tale don’t exist anymore—so I made them myself, some to greater success than others. There’s a reason concoctions like sour, moss-flavored Viking grog don’t get much tap space at your local bar. But as craft brewers look to stranger and stranger corners of time and space for inspiration, some of these old styles are reemerging at production scale. One of the best creatively anachronistic brewers is Dogfish Head. Try their Ta Henket, based on an ancient Egyptian recipe using wheat, chamomile, and doum palm fruit. It’s a fine, and easy-drinking first step back in time, bready and sour-sweet, with faint herbs and white flowers on the nose."

Image courtesy of The Brewer's Tale

4) Book: For the Love of Wine
Author: Alice Feiring
What to drink: Iago's Wine Chardaki Chinuri

In her new book, author Alice Feiring follows Georgia’s wine history, covering the ancient, Soviet, and modern influences on Georgia’s wine and winemakers. Beyond the idea of terrior, many factors affect a wine's taste, and herein Feiring focuses on the importance of the vintner, specifically local Georgian winemakers. As for reading and drinking, in Chapter 8, Feiring recounts spending Yom Kippur in Georgia while enjoying Chinuri wine with winemaker Iago Bitarishvili: "It's perfect to read Yom Kippur and Chinuri when drinking Iago's Wine Skin Contact Chin, who figures prominently in that chapter. Meeting him through the wine deepens the fun."

Image courtesy of For the Love of Wine

5) Book: The Beer Bible
Author: Jeff Alworth
What to drink: Cask ale

The Beer Bible is a detailed guide with vitals on every beer the world over. Author Jeff Alworth doesn’t give a specific beer with his otherwise very specific recommendations, though offers: "As beer is best drunk in a pub, and no pub is so delightful as an English pub (or, for our American purposes, an English-style pub), I'd say that the very best conditions include a pint of cask ale, a cozy nook, wood paneling, and perhaps a fire crackling nearby. But, since these circumstances are more difficult to obtain in the U.S., any pub will do, and any sessionable, low-ish ABV beer will serve as an able companion. If not a cask ale, then a helles, porter, or saison will do in a pinch. Something that will delight the palate, but not leave your brain too clouded to make a dent in my overly long exegesis on the world's finest fermented beverage."

Image courtesy of The Beer Bible

6) Book: Imbibe!
Author: David Wondrich
What to drink: Prescription Julep

Drinks historian David Wondrich won the James Beard award for his deep exploration of American cocktail history and his ode to the father of mixology, Jerry Thomas. While reading, Wondrich suggests imbibing the following: "I'd recommend a Prescription Julep, as I call ita recipe I found in an 1857 issue of Harper's Monthly and decoded from the apothecary's Latin in which it was written (you'll find it on p. 195 of the 2015 second edition of Imbibe). Cognac, rye whiskey, sugar, mint, and snow iceit's got all of the major food groups, particularly if you add a float of good, fragrant Jamaican rum as I like to do. The Prescription Julep is heady, complex, luxurious, old-fashioned and completely winningall qualities I have aimed for in my writing, and some of which, at least, I like to think that I have achieved."

Image courtesy of Imbibe!

7) Book: Wine & War
Author: Don and Petie Kladstrup
What to drink: 1943 Clos du Maréchal

The spoils of war often destroy large parts of a country’s culture as well as its land, both of which are integral to wine. In their book Wine and War, Don and Petie Kladstrup tell the story of French vintners falling under Nazi Germany, and how they found resourceful and risky ways to continue producing wine. "If there is one wine that captures the spirit and sense of history of our book, it would be the 1943 Clos du Maréchal. Only one vintage of that wine was ever made, named for Maréchal Petain who, as chief of state, headed the collaborationist government at Vichy. Wine from that lone vintage disappeared, some of it drunk and much of it relabeled because of embarrassment about its Vichy connection. But most of it was bought up at auction by an association of French veterans for the benefit of those of their number who suffered in the war. Nearly everyone assumed the wine had vanished. And then, just a few years ago, we got a call from a friend. A few bottles of the 1943 Clos du Maréchal had been discovered in the cellars of Patriarche Pere et Fils in Beaune. It came as a surprise if not shock to everyone. Even Patriarche did not realize it was still in their mammoth caves. We traveled to Beaune and were fortunate enough to purchase a couple of bottles. When we tasted the wine, it was a revelation. Smooth and silky, it was much younger and fresher than we expected. Should you happen to find a bottle on the market, go armed with an adequate credit limit or overdraft allowance. Today, the wine from that parcel is now bottled as Dames Hospitalieres (from the Hospices de Beaune)."

Image courtesy of Wine & War

8) Book: Judgement of Paris
Author: George M Taber
What to drink: Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay from Bordeaux and Napa Valley

George M. Taber witnessed the 1976 tasting that permanently changed the world’s perception of California Napa Valley wine. In a blind tasting of Bordeaux versus Napa, French wine experts chose the American juice in categories of both red and white. Taber's advice to fully experience this book: "I suggest that you simply buy French (Bordeaux) and California (Napa Valley) wines of comparable prices. Cabernet sauvignon red and chardonnay white. The wines at Paris were three of four years old, so it would be good to have the age comparable. If you want to have some fun, you might want to have a blind tasting of just a few of the wines. Most people have never had the experience of being a judge in a blind tasting. So they learn something in the process. I usually do that with just one French red and white and one California red and white. It doesn’t cost much because you are only doing a tasting. You can pour only about an ounce per person, which means you can get 25 samples out of a bottle."

Image courtesy of Judgement of Paris

9) Book: Whiskey Women
Author: Fred Minnick
What to drink: Bushmills, Laphroaig, Maker's Mark

Whiskey is traditionally considered a gentleman’s drink, but paradoxically the survival of today’s whiskey owes much to female leadership. In Whiskey Women, Fred Minnick recounts inspiring stories about the various women who kept the whiskey industry afloat. He tells of Elizabeth Bessie Williamson, who became the proprietor of Scotland's Laphroaig Distillery, and who eventually went on to champion Scotch Whiskey in the U.S. While reading, Minnick suggests drinking "Bushmills, Laphroaig or Maker's Mark because of the female influence for all three. Without women, they wouldn't be here today."

Image courtesy of Whiskey Women

10) Book: The Audacity of Hops
Author: Tom Acitelli
What to drink: Anchor Liberty Ale

Fritz Maytag bought California's Anchor brewery in 1965, and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing. Author Tom Acitelli recounts these stories and more in The Audacity of Hops, a look back on the pivotal figures and moments in America’s beer history. While reading, Acitelli suggests sipping Anchor Liberty Ale "because that beer, which debuted in 1975 (it's named after the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere's famous ride), is probably the most influential American-made beer of the last half-century, with the possible lamentable exception of Miller Lite. Why is Liberty Ale so influential? Because it spawned the modern pivot toward ever-bitterer releases. It's an American IPA in everything but name, and was a boldly forward release (that initially went nowhere but has stood the test of time). All the IPAs, double IPAs, Belgian IPAs, etc., can be traced back to Liberty."

Image courtesy of The Audacity of Hops