The best storytelling books about how history has influenced wines

Sarah Rowlands Author Of The Periodic Table of Wine
By Sarah Rowlands

Who am I?

I became intensely interested in wine while working in a Michelin Star kitchen where understanding how flavours work together, developing nuances in my palate, and an interesting wine list combine. Enthusiasm and passion led to success in wine examinations at the highest levels, working in wine retail, travelling the globe visiting amazing vineyards, and wineries, meeting iconic winemakers, influential vineyards managers, as well as other luminaries in the world of wine. The greatest benefit being many new friends and lifelong special memories. Along with the wine tastings I give, The Periodic Table of Wine is a way to share discovering wine and the joy it brings to new audiences.


I wrote...

The Periodic Table of Wine

By Sarah Rowlands,

Book cover of The Periodic Table of Wine

What is my book about?

The Periodic Table of Wine is sold globally to wine drinkers looking for adventure as well as beginner sommeliers starting out on their careers. Designed as a fun and quick way to give wine lovers more confidence in picking different wines they enjoy without being intimidated? The easy-to-use table, in an accessible pictorial format, shows how different wines relate, guiding you to new wines to discover and love.

The books I picked & why

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The Vineyard at the End of the World: Maverick Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec

By Ian Mount,

Book cover of The Vineyard at the End of the World: Maverick Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec

Why this book?

Today Argentina along with her malbec wines are held in high regard. It wasn’t always this way. This is a pacey rich journey through four centuries telling how ‘wine is not just a drink, it’s a story’. Full of characters, anecdotes, wine, business…Argentine style…like the hospital stay where a doctor’s recommendation is the best bottle of wine on the hospital’s café menu.


Phylloxera: How Wine Was Saved for the World

By Christy Campbell,

Book cover of Phylloxera: How Wine Was Saved for the World

Why this book?

An entertaining story of how the mystery of why vines were withering and dying in swathes in the late 19th century was solved. Campbell brings these ugly miniscule root munching girls interestingly to life by intertwining amusing yarns of the sometimes eccentric methods and people of the time involved in the eventual discovery of the solution to the dying vines.


Judgment of Paris: Judgment of Paris

By George M. Taber,

Book cover of Judgment of Paris: Judgment of Paris

Why this book?

An inspiring story of how prejudice in the wine world was brought into focus which started a revolution in the way wines from around the world are viewed. It uncovers the people and places involved in shattering conventional wisdom and demonstrating that exceptional wines can be produced in many countries. So well told is this story, that it inspired the film Bottle Shock.


Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

By Don Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup,

Book cover of Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

Why this book?

You don’t need to know about wine or WWII to enjoy the story of how French wine was ingeniously protected from pillaging Germans during the Occupation. It reads like a war movie, about wine. Some anecdotes with a touch of James Bond about them, with others more Allo Allo. Sadly, the heroism involved continues to this day, but now with Lebanese wine producers. Indeed, there is another more recent book covering this very topic too.


Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

By Daniel Okrent,

Book cover of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Why this book?

Americans have quite a different relationship with alcohol compared to Europeans. This book uncovers the background of how Prohibition came about, how influences other than alcohol were key, along with the ingenuity of people on both sides of the debate to put their case or dodge the restrictions. Full of stories that explore the men, indomitable women, bootleggers, and economic as well as social forces and hypocrisy involved in the establishment and eventual repeal of Prohibition laws across America.


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