Every September, for 42 years, we have been graced with Hugh Johnson’s latest Pocket Wine Book. The edition for 2019 is here and more brilliant than ever.

Outwardly, the book seems “the same” as last year. Same table of contents, same page numbers for each section. But, don’t be fooled, because this edition is a major rewrite. I’ve compared individual sections in this 2019 edition and last year’s 2018 one. In particular, the first full page for Spain [page 178]. The wording for a few of the entries remain the same. Many descriptions have been updated, reflecting Hugh’s assessment of the relative value and characteristics of the wineries. New ones appear and changes in existing ones are noted. In short, if you read last year’s edition and think you know everything, you might want to think again. Hugh has more for you.

There are, of course, sections in each edition requiring new material including Hugh’s Agenda Report 2019, a three-page treatise that you cannot miss. This year you’ll be most surprised at two bees in his bonnet: wine glasses and screw tops for wine bottles. I’ll let you get your own copy of the Pocket Wine Guide to get the full details, but I can tell you Hugh would like to throw away his bottle opener. Who would have thought it?

Each addition of the Pocket Wine Guide concludes with a Supplement. This year’s topic is most timely: Organic, Biodynamic, and Natural Wines. Yes, there are good wines there to enjoy, very good ones.

Other key sections to explore in the Pocket Wine Guide [it’s physically demanding to just sit and “read” it!] include:

What to drink and what to keep

If you like this, try this …

Hugh Johnson’s 200 personal favorites.

The section on Wine & Food is happily here, giving us the “last minute” advice we so often need. The entries are mostly the same, word for word, as last year. But, this section is venerable and knowing what to pair with Burrata is now a concrete fact. In Hugh’s world and now in mine.

This slim volume is perfect to pack along as you wander the aisles of your wine store. The Pocket Wine Book is happily essential, brilliantly written, and a life-saver for those of us with just a cloud of confusion when it comes to wine. I am in awe of Hugh’s capacity, memory and writing skills. Thank God we both like wine.