The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Wine, Beer, Spirit and Liqueurs – Book Review


It’s a book that calls itself to be a definitive reference guide to alcohol-based drink. Let’s dig in to find out the authenticity.

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Book Description: This expert and accessible reference guide provides all the facts you need to enjoy these classic drinks to the full. Combining informative text with glorious full-colour photographs, hand-painted maps and delightful illustrations, along with more than 100 cocktail recipes, this is an essential reference for identifying and serving alcoholic drinks.

Part One – Wine
– Take a globe-trotting journey from Bordeaux to the Barossa Valley.
– Find out more about wines that you have heard about but never tasted; discover new producers and the techniques and trends of wine making.
– What to look for when tasting a wine.
– Includes advice on storing and serving wine, and suggestions for choosing wines to serve with food.

Part Two – Beer
An authoritative guide to beer that will satisfy the curiosity of anyone who wants to know where their favourite brews come from and how they are made.
– Discover the amazing stories that lie behind the history, production and marketing of beer.
– Take an informative journey around the world of beer – from the ancient breweries of Flanders to the thriving micro-breweries of the United States.
– Learn about each region’s traditions of brewing, and the strength and taste of its popular and unusual brews.

Part Three – Spirits, Liqueurs and Fortified Wines
The definitive guide to spirits, liqueurs and fortified wines, with information on non-alcoholic mixers.
– Discover where and how each is made, best known producers and brand names, ingredients, flavours and aromas, and serving advice.
– Includes instructions for making more than 100 cocktails – learn how to mix up a Moscow Mule or Margarita, and the perfect Martini.

Walking into the alcohol section of the departmental store can be intimidating when you know nothing of what is what and where is from. All seems to appear the same, you can’t tell which is of good quality over the low grade. Even if you’re abstain from alcohol for religious reasons, these information can serve as knowledge.

A Quick Walk Through

The book gives a rough sketch of this part of the culinary world – the alcoholic beverage. The content of the book is structured as per the book description of the above. It’s quite a long read seeing the book has five hundred over pages of content, however mere reading without an objective or a mission can be dull, I must say.

Part One – Wine
Briefly, the wine section of the book is interesting as it guide readers on the principles of wine tasting, what is the effective method of storing, serving, reading the wine labels, and how even the choices of the glass as a medium influences the experience and the appreciation of wine drinking.

The next fascination is the topic on wine and food pairing. Fundamentally, it is said to be “white wine with fish and poultry, red wine with red meats and cheese, with sherry to start and port to finish“. However “in recent years, the picture has become much complicated, although its essential principles were mostly fairly sound. Today, magazines frequently run tastings to find wines that match a variety of increasingly exotic dishes, often created specially for the article in question. And there is a whole library books devoted to advising you, often in maniacal details, what to drink with what, with many suggestions seeming to strive after novelty for its own sake. The exceptions to the original rules continue to multiply.

There’s also a brief history of the founding and recent countries of wine making, making it a good read if you have the intention to visit vineyards of these countries – France, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Far East (India, China and Japan), United States, Canada, South and Central America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Part Two – Beer
Hopping to this part of the book is about the familiar flavour of yeast brewing.

Beer, like many things we take for granted, is little understood. It is a much more complex drink than many realize. Beer is the juice of the good earth. Its colours, from deep copper and ruby black to pale-yellow, reflect the passing of the seasons – from bare soil through the golden harvests of barley and wheat.

Detailing the ingredients of beer, the book shares the four basic beer ingredients – the importance of “quality and mineral content water, malt as the body and soul of a brew, hops to be added to beer as preservative bringing a characteristic bitter flavour and aroma to the drink, and yeast, the catalyst that transform the cereal solution into a potent drink, hiding its magic beneath a living cloak of froth and foam.

In today’s trend, “many brewers added other substances to their recipe, perhaps to produce a distinctive flavour and aroma, or simply to save money” – adjuncts, sugar, flaked maize, rice, torrefied wheat, malt extracts, roasted barley. Other flavour enhancers included are honey, chilli, spices, herbs, and fruits.

There are different methods of fermenting yeasts resulting to a variety style of beer with “a myriad different tastes, colours, flavours and aromas can, to some extent, be squeezed into groupings with similar characteristics and methods of production” – abbey beers, ale, alt, barley wine, Berliner Weisse, Biere de Garde, bitter, black beer, bock, brown ale, chilli beer, cream ale, Diat Pils, doppelbock, dortmunder, dry beer, dunkel, duppel/double, eisbock, export, faro, Framboise/Frambozen, ginger beer, green beer, gueuze, heavy, hefe, hell, honey beer, ice beer, root beer, stout, etc. Included along are a world tour of country producing beer in which Malaysia is one them.

Part Three – Spirits, Liqueurs and Fortified Wines
These distilled beverages are listed clearly in the book. Some of these names are familiar in cocktail, cake, ice cream making.

Spirit – aquavit, arak, bitters, brandy, Calvados, Eau de Vie, gin, kirsch, Marc, Mescal, rum, Slivovitz, tequila, vodka, and whisky.

Liqueur – Advocaat, Amaretto, anis, Aurum, Benedictine, Chartreuse, Cointreau, cream liqueurs, creme liqueurs, Curacao, Drambuie, Galliano, Glayva, Goldwasser, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Kummel, liqueur brandies, Malibu, Mandarine Napoleon, Maraschino, Midori, nut liqueurs, Parfait Amour, Pastis, Pimm’s, Poire William, Punsch, Ratafia, Sambuca, Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort, Strega, Suze, Tia Maria, and Van der Hum.

Fortified Wine – Madeira, Marsala, Muscat and Moscatel, port, sherry, and Vermouth.


Overall, it’s a great reference book for those wishing to know more of the range of alcoholic beverages, an area of the culinary world. Though the coverage is not in deeper details, the information provided is suffice for general reading and quick referencing. You may grab a copy at


Stuart Walton and Brian Glover. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Wine, Beer, Spirits and Liqueurs – The Definitive Reference Guide to Alcohol-Based Drinks (London: Anness Publishing Limited, 1998, 2011)

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