Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Wine Reads

by Jay McInerney

From celebrated novelist Jay McInerney, whose extensive writing on wine has been called “crisp, stylish and very funny” (New York Times Book Review), comes an intelligent collection of great writing about wine

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 400
  • Publication Date November 19, 2019
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4779-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 400
  • Publication Date November 06, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2883-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $28.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date November 06, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4671-7
  • US List Price $28.00

In this richly literary anthology, Jay McInerney—bestselling novelist and acclaimed wine columnist for Town & Country, Wall Street Journal, and House and Garden—selects over twenty pieces of memorable fiction and nonfiction about the making, selling, and of course, drinking of fine wine.

Including excerpts from novels, short fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction, Wine Reads features big names in the trade and literary heavyweights alike. We follow Kermit Lynch to the Northern Rhône in a chapter from his classic Adventures on the Wine Route. In an excerpt from Between Meals, longtime New Yorker writer A. J. Liebling raises feeding and imbibing on a budget in Paris into something of an art form—and discovers a very good rosé from just west of the Rhône. Michael Dibdin’s fictional Venetian detective Aurelio Zen gets a lesson in Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello vintages from an eccentric celebrity. In real life, and over half a century ago, Jewish-Czech writer and gourmet Joseph Wechsberg visits the medieval Château d’Yquem to sample different years of the “roi des vins” alongside a French connoisseur who had his first taste of wine at age four.

Also showcasing an iconic scene from Rex Pickett’s Sideways and work by Jim Harrison, Benjamin Wallace, and McInerney himself, this is an essential volume for any disciple of Bacchus.

Praise for Jay McInerney

“The best wine writer in America.”—Salon, on The Juice

“As bracing as high-acid Riesling.”—Washington Post, on A Hedonist in the Wine Cellar

“His wine judgments are sound, his anecdotes witty and his literary references impeccable.”—New York Times, on Bacchus and Me

“Brilliant, witty, comical and often shamelessly candid.”—Robert M. Parker, on Bacchus and Me

“Splendid vino vignettes [that] pique both curiosity and thirst.”—Entertainment Weekly, on A Hedonist in the Cellar

“An immensely pleasurable and literate splash in to McInerney’s favorite glass over the last decade.”—Daily Beast, on The Juice

“A whirlwind tour of the wine world with a wry companion who is clearly at home and enjoying the subject.”—Danny Meyer, on Bacchus and Me


From the introduction to Wine Reads by Jay McInerney:

The late Giuseppe Quintarelli once told me that Amarone was “a wine of contemplation.” I was visiting him at his home and winery outside of Verona, and I’d asked him what kind of foods might be paired with this complex, autumnal wine made from late harvested grapes that spend several months drying out, essentially becoming raisins before they are pressed and fermented. His answer suggested that Amarone should be enjoyed without food, with nothing to interfere with its appreciation. And while at the time I found his description apt, it subsequently occurred to me that it fits all wines of quality. Not that fine wine should be enjoyed without food—but that it inevitably inspires contemplation. And, since before the time of Homer, it has inspired commentary ranging in tone from the ecstatic to the analytic. Modern commentary has tended more and more toward the analytical, toward an attempt to anatomize and quantify the properties of wine, as opposed to celebrating its effects.

Wine critics like Robert Parker perform a valuable service for the consumer, but the writing collected in this volume has been chosen for its narrative and literary qualities; in selecting these readings I undoubtedly favored entertainment and felicity of expression over instruction.

From “Judgement of Paris” by George M. Taber:

About halfway through the white wine part of the competition, I began to notice something quite shocking. I had a list of the wines and realized that the judges were getting confused! They were identifying a French wine as a California one and vice versa. Judges at one end of the table were insisting that a particular wine was French, while those at the other were saying it was from California.

Raymond Oliver, the owner and chef of the Grand Véfour restaurant in Paris, one of the temples of French haute cuisine, swirled a white wine in his glass, held it up to the light to examine the pale straw color, smelled it, and then tasted it. After a pause he said, “Ah, back to France!” I checked my list of wines twice to be sure, but Oliver had in fact just tasted a 1972 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay from California’s Napa Valley!