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Self-published wine books win 2007 Andre Simon prizes

Two books published at their authors' expense have won Andre Simon prizes.

Wine Behind the Label (5th edition) by Philip Williamson and David Moore has won the 2007 Andre Simon award for best drink book, while The Wine and Food Lovers Guide to Portugal, by Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter earned a special commendation.

Award judge and Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook described Wine Behind the Label as ‘essentially a guide to the best wineries in the world, incredibly accurate and comprehensive.’

The two other short-listed drink books – To Cork or Not to Cork, by George Taber (the journalist who broke the ‘judgment of Paris’ story), and First Big Crush by Eric Arnold, are from American publisher Scribner and to date have not been published in the UK.

‘Without taking anything away from the authors’ achievements, this is a sad comment about the state of UK book publishing,’ said award judge and Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook.

‘In the States, they are publishing both serious and quirky books on wine, and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be happening here too.’

Brook and others commented that while the internet has made it easier for consumers to find basic information about wine and wineries – putting a damper on a certain kind of traditional publishing – the right kind of books still have a strong role in guiding consumers and bringing the subject of wine to life.

’Publishers are very good at putting book together, but they don’t seem very interested in promoting them,’ said Charles Metcalfe.

Metcalfe credited the Portuguese wine industry with providing the impetus for his book, and said he now spends a great deal of time selling it himself.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Nick Fisher’s The River Cottage Fish Book (Bloomsbury) took the award for best food book.

The Andre Simon Memorial Fund, now in its 30th year, was established to celebrate the founder of the International Wine and Food Society, a prolific author and a leading light of the English wine trade. Winners each receive £2000 with £1000 for special commendations.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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