The award-winning author shares his observations from half a century of wine discovery in his latest book, Drinking with the Valkyries.
Jefford was praised for the ‘peerlessly precise use of the English language’ displayed within his collection of revised essays, opinions and articles.
However, he faces fierce competition from a trio of highly-rated drinks writers: Dave Broom, Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre and Camper English.
Broom, a former André Simon winner, travels around his native Scotland visiting distilleries from Islay to Orkney and telling the story of whisky’s history in A Sense of Place.
Regan-Lefebvre’s Imperial Wine delves into the colonial roots of the global wine industry, arguing that imperialism was central to viticulture in the British colonies.
English was shortlisted for The Perfect Tonic, an interconnected history of alcohol and medicine, which reveals why the contents of our medicine and liquor cabinets were – until recently – one and the same.
Matt Walls, Decanter’s Rhone specialist, is this year’s drinks assessor, and he was impressed by all four ‘equally absorbing books’.
He said: ‘Dave Broom’s A Sense of Place transports you to Scotland so vividly you can almost smell the whisky, as he looks at its links to people, place, culture and community.
‘In The Perfect Tonic, Camper English covers the fascinating and peculiar medicinal history of beer, wines, spirits and cocktails with irrepressible flair and wit.
‘In her eye-opening, meticulously-researched Imperial Wine, Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre examines how deeply the roots of the international wine trade are embedded in Empire and settler colonialism.
‘And finally, in Drinking with the Valkyries, Andrew Jefford lets us share his wonder of wine through his peerlessly precise use of the English language.’
The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on Tuesday 14 March. We will also learn who has won the André Simon Food Book of the Year award, with Kitty and Al Tait, Jeremy Lee, Kalpna Woolf, Kate Reid, Melissa Thompson, Mo Wilde and Ella Risbridger all shortlisted.