Praise for drinks books at André Simon Awards

It was a standout year for drinks books at the André Simon Awards last night with Peter Liem, Dave Broom and Victoria Moore all picking up prizes for their work.

Joe Fattorini and Peter Liem

At the awards ceremony last night (12 February) it fell to judge Joe Fattorini to talk through the books and announce the winners.

Despite just 40 drinks books being submitted as opposed to 113 food books, Fattorini said he was “lucky enough to have judged in something of a marquee year.”

He had warm words for all of the shortlisted books, the hard work and skill that had gone into writing them and the excellent production values of the final results.

The overall winner in the drinks book category was Peter Liem’s book Champagne, which Fattorini praised as the, “most wonderfully produced book – never buy it on Kindle,” as well as being a work that was clearly the result of “a lifetime’s knowledge”.

Liem himself said he was, “honoured and humbled” by the award and thanked the publishers and photographers that had helped bring it all together – as well as the producers of Champagne; “it’s their book as much as mine”.

Victoria Moore and The Wine Dine Dictionary

The prizes for the drinks books were not done however. The John Avery Award went to Dave Broom’s book The Way of Whisky on Japanese malts, which Fattorini said was “the most Japanese book I’ve ever read” and which absolutely, “captures the terroir of Japan,” with its evocative photographs of “the mist and the cold.”

Finally, this year’s special commendation went to Victoria Moore’s The Wine Dine Dictionary, which Fattorini said was one of those rare books that made the language of wine as interesting as wine itself and was the sort of book that kept moving you around until you were “miles away” from where you originally began – which in his case was wine and oysters to Zinfandel and pulled pork.

Speaking to the drinks business afterwards, Fattorini said the drinks category had marked itself out this year due to the higher than usual number of entries.

“We kept getting contenders,” he said, adding that, in the end, the “shortlist sort of wrote itself.”

Despite his high praise for the shortlisted works he also added that there were still a number of books that had been submitted which had contained errors or were very factual but not engaging enough.

He also added that in the current trend for cocktail books a little more writing and rather fewer pictures and “fireworks” wouldn’t go amiss, while those trying to emulate the beat/gonzo model of Jack Kerouac or Hunter S Thompson should probably aim for greater brevity or perhaps a different approach altogether.

Not only was it a style, “which drinks isn’t about,” but he also repeated the well-worn advice that if the first chapter of your book begins with someone waking up in a room they don’t remember entering, “stop writing”.

Meanwhile, in the food category, Rachel Cooke was likewise full of enthusiasm for the wide-ranging and eclectic shortlist, which she said showed that now was a “golden age of food writing.”

The winner of the Best Food Book was awarded to Stephan Harris’s, The Sportsman.

2 Responses to “Praise for drinks books at André Simon Awards”

  1. Peter Liem’s book is stunning in every sense of that overused word. It could only have been written by someone who has lived in and been besotted by Champagne for 10 years. He is one of the humblest guys I know and has produced the seminal work on the subject for 21st century Champagne lovers.

  2. Raymond Tilney says:

    Tom, What a super recommendation. I am sure Peter values your words as much as those of us who have always relied upon your guidance on all matters sparkling.

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