The Hachette Guide to French Wines 2004

Mitchell Beazley ($34.50)

"Bang up to date," as my English wine merchant friends say, this new book from France's premiere reference-book publisher is a sort of Michelin Red Guide to French wine. More than 9,000 wines are listed, compiled from submissions from more than 900 wine professionals (who had no way of knowing if their particular choices would be included). The guide begins with a brief but well-written introduction to wine, with many innovative articles on food pairing, aging, and what's new in different regions. Like the Michelin guides, the symbols are tiny and the print size may have you reaching for a magnifying glass, but the content is informative and exact. When a label is included with an entry, it indicates a three-star wine, a bottle worth seeking out. A tome of considerable length, it is a resource for professionals and serious consumers alike. My advice is to buy it, try it, and enjoy it. For the price, it is more wine knowledge packed into print than I've previously encountered in English anywhere. DAN MCCARTHY

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