The best wine books of 2021 take you on journeys through Italy, France and California

Wine lovers lost a dear friend this year with the death of Steven Spurrier. But he left us a final bequest that should delight us for years to come: the Académie du Vin Library. Named for Spurrier's 1970s school in Paris, where he educated expats in the joys of French wine and schooled the French that the New World had caught up to them, this imprint aims to publish new works about wine as well as older works that have gone out of print but should not be forgotten.

"South of Somewhere: Wine, Food, and the Soul of Italy" by Robert V. Camuto. Foto: University of Nebraska Press. "In the Vine Country" by Edith Somerville and Martin Ross. Foto: Academie du Vin Library

This year's best wine books, ideal for holiday giving, include three from the Académie du Vin Library and an engaging romp through the wine country of southern Italy.

Hands down the wine book of the year: "In the Vine Country," by Edith Somerville and Martin Ross (a pseudonym of Violet Florence Martin). These Irish cousins from County Cork penned several travel books and articles about Ireland and Europe in the 1880s and 1890s. Summoned to London by the editor of the Lady's Pictorial magazine, they were given an unwieldy contraption they called "the Kodak" and dispatched to Bordeaux to chronicle the wine harvest. More than a century later, they give us a fascinating glimpse into the world's most famous wine region at the advent of wine's modern era. Bordeaux was recovering from the ravages of phylloxera, reestablishing its vineyards with a sense of optimism and exploring modern technology and chemistry to fight traditional vine diseases...

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