I read a number of great books this year. Some were good; some were tremendous. Excellent books can be like wines that shock you with their energy. You don’t soon forget them.

There are thousands of books written on wine, beer, spirits and food each year. Scanning BarnesandNoble.com this morning, I saw several hundred on wine alone! My favorite titles that I read from cover-to-cover this year (though not all were published in 2011) were:

Terry Thiese’s Reading between the Wines – For Terry’s linear opinion accompanied by explanations of other sides of the arguments and for his compelling writing style. A page-turner!

Alice Feiring’s Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally – For Alice’s passionate pursuit for natural wines (disclosure: I’m only a moderate believer in this category but I remain open-minded) and for her fabulous phrasing. A joy to read her writing!

Jim Meehan’s and Chris Gall’s PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy – For Jim’s vision of a book that shouldn’t become dated because it is illustrated rather than filled with photographs of today’s drinks and glassware (recall yesteryear’s massive martini glass filled with blues, yellows and greens.)

Jasper Morris’ Inside Burgundy – For Jasper’s coverage of so many details, I’ll be learning and re-learning from this book for a decade! And, for the record, I’ve not found the gusto to attack this one from cover-to-cover but rather in bits-and-pieces.

Patrick Lebas’s Nationale 74 Bourgogne: Route des Vins – For its breadth of coverage on Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, from wine (mais, bien sûr!) and restaurants to bike trails and chambres d’hôtes. It also includes wonderful maps of each village’s crus and a convenient spiral binding. Great for anyone new to the area as well as those who think they know it through and through!

Michael Ruhlmann’s Ratios – For the ultimate art and science or making cooking simple. If I only made the time to cook frequently enough to memorize more of the equations by heart!

I’m working on my list of reads for 2012. I’ve even asked Santa for a Nook despite my decided preference for paper. But given my frequent travels combined with a love for the New York City Public Library, it’s a compromise I’m ready to make for a little less baggage and fewer missed return dates. Of course, I see already that some of the books I’ll be reading next year are in paper format only. I guess that will ease the transition….