“Ten Grapes to Know: The Ten & Done Wine Guide” by Catherine Fallis, The Countryman Press, 192 pages, softcover, $24.95

“101 Wines to Try Before You Die” by Margaret Rand, Hachette Book Group, 224 pages, hardcover, $14.99

“Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2019,” Hachette Book Group, 336 pages, hardcover, $16.99

“Wine Food: New Adventure in Drinking and Cooking” by Dana Frank and Andrea Stonecker, Penguin Random House, 256 pages, hardcover, $25

“Beer Hacks: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Projects” by Ben Robinson, Workman Publishing, 153 pages, hardcover, $16.95

“Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink” by Fred Minnick, Running Press, 240 pages, hardcover, $25

Pairing wine with food can sometimes be a little tricky.

This new year might just be the time to up your wine (and beer) game, and there's plenty of new books on the market to help.

In the introduction of “Ten Grapes to Know: The Ten & Done Wine Guide,” Catherine Fallis, a master sommelier, says, “Wine, like food, is a pleasure for the senses” and to enjoy a glass of wine requires using our eyes, our nose, and our palate.

Her book looks at the 10 wine grapes she says cover most of the wines found in stores or on a restaurant wine list. Writing in an unintimidating way, she explains how to taste wine, how to pair it with food, and how to buy and store it. She also offers fun exercises to help the reader hone his or her tasting skills. For each grape, readers learn how to pronounce the name, its history and geography, and taste profile. Fallis also suggests bottles at every price point and food pairings.

This is an appealing, easy-to-use guide for both the novice and more knowledgeable wine drinker.

In “101 Wines to Try Before You Die,” writer Margaret Rand suggests a vino bucket list. These aren’t necessarily the most iconic wines in the world, but the ones she tasted that gave her the greatest pleasure.

Rand, former editor of Wine Magazine and now general editor of “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book,” points out that many wines on her list are very expensive, but adds there is “no precise correlation between price and quality.”

This is an attractive book illustrated with full-color photographs. Each entry provides information on the wine's country of origin, grape, price point, aging, whether it should be decanted or served chilled, what foods to drink it with, and trophy vintages. And, for those of us who can’t afford the pricey wine, Rand suggests a “pauper substitute.”

“Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2019” is the 42nd edition of the annual guide. Stuffed with information about the wines, growers and wine regions of the world, the guide details what vintages to buy, which to drink and which to store away.

The book includes a section with Johnson’s 200 personal favorites from the last 12 months, which he emphasizes is not a list of “the world’s best wines.” Another handy feature is the listing of food and wine pairings arranged by dishes. For example, before the meal, don’t serve olives with Champagne. Instead, serve them with sherry or a martini.

In “Wine Food: New Adventures in Drinking and Cooking,” sommelier and urban winery owner Dana Frank, of Portland, Oregon, and cookbook author Andrea Slonecker team up to match a wine style to 75 recipes for brunches, salads, vegetable dishes, picnics, weeknight dinners and “cozy nights in.” They write that the wines they like with food are lower in alcohol, higher in acidity and fresh tasting.

“Neither the wine nor the food should outweigh the other,” they write in the book, which includes plenty of full-color photographs and 20 watercolor illustrations.

For those interested in beer, take a look at “Beer Hacks: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Projects” by Ben Robinson. The book’s cover even includes a bottle opener, what he calls “the original beer hack.” The book is chock-a-block with fun drawings illustrating the author’s suggestions, including tips for storing beer, crafting things out of bottles and cans, cooking with it, how to make it cold quickly, how to open beers when you don’t have a bottle opener, how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness and how to safely tap a keg.

History buffs will enjoy “Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink” by Fred Minnick. Mead, or honey wine, is enjoying a renaissance with home brewers and cocktail mixologists, the author says. He offers information on making 20 different types of mead and includes 50 cocktail recipes using mead.


Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at sonnierfood@gmail.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.