Judges named Volcanic Wines as the best drinks book published in 2016 during a ceremony in London that was a pointed riposte to the current trend for clean-eating fads. See other winners below.

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Volcanic Wines by John Szabo MS scooped the drinks book prize, announced Decanter contributor Fiona Beckett at the André Simon 2016 book awards ceremony held in London’s Goring hotel.

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On the food side, Fuschia Dunlop’s ‘Land of Fish and Rice‘ won the 2016 prize for food writing. It is based on traditional cooking and ingredients used in China’s Lower Yangtze region.


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André Simon, who died in 1970, was a French born, UK-dwelling wine merchant and food and wine writer described by Hugh Johnson OBE as having led the English wine trade ‘for almost half of the 20th century’.

As a result, the awards are highly regarded in the wine and food world.

Volcanic Wines beat a strong short-list, including Patrick Comiskey’s American Rhône.

The judges ‘praised Szabo’s balance of science, history and personal detail in an ambitious project exploring geology, volcanism, viticulture and soil sciences together with maps and wine labels’.

This week’s award ceremony also provided a riposte to clean-eating fads. Food assessor Bee Wilson said that judges had been inundated with books on clean-eating themes, but wanted to get away from such a faddish culture.

Young cook and columnist Ruby Tandoh, of Great British Bake Off fame, got a special commendation for her book Flavour: Eat What You Love.

Judges praised Tandoh for ‘putting the focus back on taste and enjoyment, rather than presentation, health or fashion’.

Winner of the John Avery award went to a Nigerian food writer named Yemisi Aribisala for her ‘Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds‘. Judges praised its new insight into Nigerian food and culture.

Other finalists in the drinks category were Pete Brown’s The Apple Orchard, Bill Nesto and Frances Si Savino’ Chianti Classico and Tristan Stephenson’s The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace.

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