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Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 24th, 2017, 6:48 pm
by BenB
Hoping to get some insight from the wineberserkers community on must-have books for someone new to wine. I currently have Gambero Rosso Italian Wines and Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine guide but am looking for other, similar reference books.

Many thanks,

(As an aside, I read recently In Vino Duplicitas, and I suspect many of this forum would enjoy it)

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 25th, 2017, 10:22 am
by Daniel Chun
"The Wine Bible" - Karen MacNeil

a great introductory reference for all the major regions

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 25th, 2017, 1:47 pm
by Steve Slatcher
I know The Wine Bible has a lot of fans, so it must have something going for it, but it is not for me. I found it rather loose with the facts, and too opinionated for my liking. I understand it was ground-breaking when it was written, but that was quite a while back.

My big recommendation would be The Oxford Companion to Wine. It is not really similar to the books you already have, Ben (and neither is The Wine Bible for that matter), but definitively a "must have" in my opinion. It can look a bit scary at first with large pages of text, but it is authoritative, and the articles are a lot more readable than you might think from first impressions.

The World Atlas of Wine is another book that is often recommended. I am not as enthusiastic as most people, but it is OK. Not sure about pricing on the left of the Atlantic, but in the UK you can often pick this up very heavily discounted if you look hard enough and are prepared to wait a little for the offers, often not long after a new edition is printed. At those prices it is certainly worth the money.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 4:34 am
by Peter Papay
I would like to second the recommendation for the
Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson.

Accurate wealth of information.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 5:37 am
by Alicia C.
For reference, I agree the Oxford Companion and the Wine Bible are your best bets.

A few others that help simplify things:

* Wine Folly from Madeline Puckette (take a look at her website first, you'll see the gist of how she approaches things). It's not a perfect book, but the flavor wheels and maps are really nicely done (she's a graphic artist and a somm).

* If you're a Millennial (or want to pretend you're one), and want to read something that reads more like a guide than use as a reference book, Wine. All The Time. From Marissa Ross could be interesting for you. She has a no-nonsense approach and writes like she's your best friend. She's more about how to drink, how to buy, how its made, than a dictionary of varieties and regions.

* If you want to explore California producers who have moved away from the big bold wines California is known for into more restrained winemaking, The New California Wine from Jon Bonné is a nice guide.

* Also, and what I'm about to recommend is a bit divisive, but if you're at all interested in Natural wines and want to learn what those are about (Marissa touches on them a bit in her book), I'd take a look at Naked Wine. Not everyone agrees with some of the extremes Alice Feiring promotes (and warning, no one in the wine world agrees what natural wines are or agrees about their quality), however, it's an easy read and provides a really good baseline understanding to what Natural wines are all about. She has a new book out, but I haven't read it yet.

Enjoy! I don't think you can go wrong with whatever books you choose to acquire. There's a ton of wine reading out there to be had!


Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 10:11 am
by Steve Slatcher
Can someone else please explain why Wine Folly is not a good book? It's not a generational or snobby thing I have against it, but I'm tired of arguing and being negative for now. No, really, I want to be positive. But if no one else does I'll step up to the plate.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 1:02 pm
by Alicia C.
I'd like to hear your thoughts, Steve. For basic understanding of flavors and regions, I think Wine Folly is a great and easy to understand. I know it's not a complete book, and she had to issue a correction or two after it initially published, but otherwise I never quite understood the criticism.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 1:25 pm
by RyanC
When I was starting out, I found the World Atlas of Wine by far the most useful book. Especially for old-world wines, looking up where every bottle you drank came from will help you quickly learn about geography, grapes, vineyard, terroir, etc.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 1:41 pm
by David Wright
Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 26th, 2017, 1:42 pm
by RyanC
David Wright wrote:Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch.
Yeah, this too. Such a great book. If you like it, Neal Rosenthal's Reflections of a Wine Merchant is also very good.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 27th, 2017, 2:47 am
by Steve Slatcher
Alicia C. wrote:I'd like to hear your thoughts, Steve. For basic understanding of flavors and regions, I think Wine Folly is a great and easy to understand. I know it's not a complete book, and she had to issue a correction or two after it initially published, but otherwise I never quite understood the criticism.
OK. As you ask. I am not sure if I have the corrected version or not - mine was published by "Penguin Random House UK", but it was apparently first published in the US. I have actually seen very little criticism of the book, but I know the Wine Folly blog divides opinion. I bought it mainly to learn about her popular style of presentation, and to try to understand why it was so popular. I still struggle to understand, and wonder how many people actually try to use the book, let alone fact-check it. It is a while now since I read it, so it is not easy to recall all my many objections, but I will try.

Let's take the graphics first. Many of the smaller ones are totally pointless, and merely eat up space. There are also great swathes of white (and coloured) space. And words are few and far between. Even the infographics for which Madeline is famous are poor. My favourite examples are the ones for food/wine pairings. Pick any food or wine in one of those infographics, and tell me what they pair with. It is like doing one of those puzzles I used to get in childhood comics. Is there a better way of presentation? Yes - using tables. Other infographics are not so bad, but I am still not sure what they accomplish that could not be done more clearly and concisely in other ways. Don't get me wrong - I know graphics can be powerful and useful, but these are neither.

Mainly due to the many graphics and use of white space, the text typically appears in blocks of a sentence or two, and is very disjointed. OK, sometimes that can be a good idea. But other times you actually need a proper paragraph to get an idea over, and there are none in this book. The language is also clunky (some might say wrong) in places, e.g. "Wine grapes are different than table grapes"

The main part of the book is structured around something called "a wine". Usually these "wines" are actually grape varieties, but sometime they are blends, sometimes styles or controlled terms (like Sherry). And there is also a wine called "Sauternais". If I were just starting off in wine, I would be totally confused by this. What is needed of course is a section of text explaining grape varieties, regions and appellations. Just ducking the issue does not make it any easier.

There is a big emphasis on the aromas in wines. Take Riesling for example. She has dominant flavours of lime, green apple, beeswax and petroleum. That's fair enough, and I would suggest it's all a beginner need know. But then apparently you also get orange and nectarine in warm climates. Really? Well maybe, but you don't usually grow Riesling in warm climates. And then in the big circular graphic there are all manner of flavours I have never noted in a Riesling, and would not recognise if I did. Like pink grapefruit, Thai basil, cantaloupe, white cherry, guava. I don't deny that some people might recognise them in a Riesling, but is it REALLY helpful to beginners to list them? And strangely, orange and nectarine do not figure in the longer list!

I am sure I also found factual inaccuracies earlier, but admit I cannot find them in a quick look today. But I found there was a whole spectrum from "wrong", through "I don't think so" and "not always so", to "I wouldn't say it like that".

For a beginner's text (which I don't think BenB was after actually), I would suggest Michael Schuster's "Essential Winetasting". Whenever I return to it I think it is spot on in the way it makes a potentially complex subject easily understandable without compromising on the facts. Sadly though, it is now looking quite dated in style, even if the content is still largely applicable. For a good beginner's book with a more up to date presentation, there is also "Exploring and Tasting Wine" by the team at BBR. This has some Wine-Folly-style graphics, but also some proper text.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 27th, 2017, 8:04 am
by Alicia C.
Thanks Steve for taking the time to write all that. I definitely understand the concerns you have and agree with some of them. I'll respectfully disagree with you on the use of graphics and white space (graphic design is such a subjective beast!) I've never read the book cover to cover (just as I haven't read the Oxford Companion cover to cover), instead I use it as reference when there's a specific grape or variety I want to look up. Most often I use it when I have non-wine-geek friends over who are asking questions about the bottle we're drinking and use it as a quick/easy reference to show them more about the grape/variety/wine and the possible flavors they *could* be tasting (considering climate, aging, terroir, winemaking styles, etc., the possibility usually extends beyond what's typical or what you might have experience with) and it gives them a nice basic understanding. I don't think the book's audience is for us Berserkers, so I try not to evaluate it in that way. Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my question! (And happy to end this thread drift so the OP can continue getting advice on other books -- there's so many out there to explore!) Cheers! [cheers.gif]

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 27th, 2017, 10:00 am
by Steve Slatcher
Thanks Alicia for your measured response. I really didn't want to get into an argument. Before we end the thread drift, I would just like to add a couple of comments.

One is that I did not evaluate it from a wine-geek standpoint either, but from a beginner's point of view. I do still remember how I was when starting off in wine, and I also remember how frustrating it is to have picked up a "factoid", pass it on, and later to discover it is wrong. I was however envisaging the situation where the beginner owns the book and uses it as the primary means to learn about wines, rather that it being used as an aid for discussion as you described.

Regarding the subjectivity and design, I agree that the aesthetics are subjective, and to be honest I think it looks pretty. But book design can also be evaluated in terms of how well it imparts information to the target audience, which is more objective. I do not pretend to have performed an objective evaluation in this case, but in principle that can be attempted.

With very best wishes, Steve

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 27th, 2017, 8:28 pm
by NoahR

Wine is so vast a subject that no single book really encompasses everything. I would recommend several books, each of which is excellent in its own right and in its own domain.

Everyone should read The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode, as it is one of the only books that will allow you to understand the process of winemaking, grape growing, basic climate science and geology, as well as the sensory aspect of wine and how modern technology affects it. It is eminently readable, and no matter how many books or articles you read, if you don't understand how soil types differ and how they play into wine, most advanced wine reading will be lost on you.

Are there specific areas you are interested in?

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 27th, 2017, 9:38 pm
by RichardFlack
Johnson / Robinson - World Atlas of Wine. As they say in Real Estate, Location, Location, Location.
Anything by Harry Waugh for flavour, old school.
These are more by way of reference books
Oxford Companion to Wine
Wines of Burgundy by Clive Coates
Bordeaux by Robert Parker

Maybe a bit off the wall but for some insight into the mania of wine making: The Heartbreak Grape: A California Winemaker's Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir By Marq de Villiers ( about Josh Jensens exploits at Calera Winery).

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 28th, 2017, 4:14 pm
by robert creth
Since you mentioned In Vino Duplicitas, I will assume you are not just looking for reference books. In that case I will recommend Cork Dorks by Bianca Bosker. The closest a wine book can come to being a page turner, Cork Dorks steps on some toes and is a window into a very small part of the wine world but a fascinating and provocative one and superbly written.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 29th, 2017, 12:17 am
by Drew Goin
I apologize if any of my book recommendations are not in-line with what the OP is seeking.

I have a handful of books on wine, mostly covering California stuff:

The Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Ed (2006), Jancis Robinson

An incredibly useful "dictionary" of wine terms, whether places, procedures, or grape varieties; the author(s) are not objective in all topics, which can spice up an otherwise dry reference book.

Vine Grapes & Wines: The Wine Drinker's Guide to Grape Varieties (1992), Jancis Robinson and Mitchell Beazley

Since I didn't have the $$$ to fork over for Ms Robinson's most recent tome on the grape varieties that make up bottles of wine, I happily discovered this older, less comprehensive reference book.

A Companion to California Wine (1998), Charles Sullivan

A great read, though most of the figures are out of date 20 years later; I now find myself seeking its treasure-trove of info more than any other book in this list.

The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste (2013), Jon Bonné

A quick, but useful, read; I imagine that "who's hot" texts like this are doomed to obsolescence more rapidly than most other books on wine.

American Rhône: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink (2016), Patrick J Comiskey

Unlike the previous entry, I believe that this entry will remain relevant for years to come, as the human story of how America found, lost, and rediscovered the red and white grapes from France's Rhône will provide readers with an in-depth, yet light-hearted contemplation on how particular grapes catch the attention of the drinking public.

Wines of the Rhône Valley: A Guide to Origins (1987), Robert W. Mayberry

I sought out this book after finishing Mr Comiskey's history; just as he says in American Rhône, this book provides sketches of countless wineries, even mentioning the proportions of different varieties in the named wines. I can see how this book once served as a "cheat-sheet" for winemakers new to Grenache, Syrah, etc.

French Country Wines (1990), Rosemary George

This author provides a travelogue through nooks and crannies of southern France, shining a light on countless underappreciated regions, varieties, and wineries along the way.

Monks and Wine (1979), Desmond Seward

The history of wine in Europe is so intertwined with the establishment of monasteries that it was easy for me to avoid reading a book like this for years. I learned a great amount about the "why's" and "how's" of European (re: French and German) wine via the concise, clear prose of this work's author.

History of the Sonoma Viticultural District, The Grape Growers, the Wine Makers, and the Vineyards (Comprising Sonoma, Marin, Lake, Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte, and Siskiyou Counties) (1998), Ernest Peninou

"If a wine aficionado happens to be interested in the history of the source of his/her Sonoma/Northern California wines, I doubt that there exists a more comprehensive exploration of the entire region mentioned in this book's title. There are some areas/townships that do not receive sufficiently in-depth coverage, yet I remain awestruck by the level of research necessary to produce a work like this. There may never be a more ambitious effort of documenting for the general public a historic layout of the agricultural heritage of California (this title is apparently only one of several)."

Table Wines: The Technology and Their Production, 2nd Edition (1970), MA Amerine & MA Joslyn

"Yes, THAT Amerine wrote this highly technical, and out-dated tome. I cannot recommended it to non-winemakers, since the work is almost akin to the dreaded VCR manuals of the 1980's. Still, I found it to provide a neat snapshot of the culture of scientific winemaking. Who knows how​ many aspiring vintners have a dusty copy of this book on their shelves?"

Vineyards in the Sky: The Life of Legendary Vintner Martin Ray (1993), Eleanor Ray & Barbara Marinacci

"After reading Charles Sullivan's Like Modern Edens, I sought out any text which might help me understand the history of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the contributions Martin Ray made to California winemaking. As this biography is written by the widow of Mr Ray, I anticipated there may be occasional flights of nostalgia. My impression of Vineyards in the Sky is best expressed by the chorus of The Vandals' 'Aging Orange':

'Cuz I invented socks
and I invented gravy
I made up the cotton gin
but no one ever paid me'"

A Zinfandel Odyssey (2001), Rhoda Stewart

"I bought this one, after finishing David Darlington's work, on a quest to find as much information as possible about Zinfandel (but not focused on the genetic homeland of the grape). There are the inherently​ out-dated tasting impressions of wines made, and consumed, years ago. However, the real value of Ms Stewart's coffee-table-sized, glossy-paged, picture-laden book is in her skill of making the reader feel as though one is there, surveying panoramic vistas of vine-covered valleys; sharing sandwiches with winemakers at a picnic table under the shade of an old tree; leaning closer to hear every word spoken by an wizened vineyard owner as a third bottle of Zin is popped. The author's Odyssey takes the reader from Cucamonga to San Luis Obispo, to the Sierra Foothills, Lodi, Contra Costa, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa. Two of my favorite parts involve legendary winemakers. Joel Peterson shares insight into his thoughts on aging bottles of Zinfandel, old vineyard sites versus younger ones, and his attraction to a grape that virtually has become synonymous with his name (as well as Ravenswood). Meanwhile, Paul Draper relays his history in selecting small oak barrels when other Californian vintners were conservatively clinging to the larger models. Stewart relates an anecdote of Draper's where he travels to Arkansas, insists on buying seven-year-old American oak staves, and supervises moderate gas-fired toasting for the Ridge barrels."

Zin: The History & Mystery of Zinfandel (2001, formerly Angels' Visits, 1991), David Darlington

"Mr Darlington is one of my favorite wine writers, having read several of his articles in the Wine & Spirits magazine. Zin is a travelogue of sorts, yet I love this book for the intimate details it shares. The journey to create his own pet-project bottling of a Beaujolais-style Zinfandel brings you into the 'daily grind' of winemaking, in a way. Much love is deservedly heaped upon Mr Joel Peterson (a young MTP steals the spotlight a couple of times, hinting at the genius many Berserkers now appreciate). As the author journeys to vineyards, restaurants, and tasting groups, the reader's appreciation of a finished bottle of wine is expanded. When so much can ruin months of hard work, the act of sharing a bottle of wine with a friend becomes a minor miracle in itself."

I hope that some Berserker reads at least one of the texts I have suggested. Whether or not you agree with my reviews, I only wish to make available a handful of books that expanded my understanding and love for wine. :)

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 29th, 2017, 10:29 am
by robert creth
Great list and thanx.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: September 30th, 2017, 3:22 pm
by Ian Sutton
The Hugh Johnson pocket book is a heck of a resource for the size. As with all opinion based recommendations, there are producers who are missing and others who are listed, but I don't rate highly. That's life, but I'll admit I do reach for it when exploring a completely new region. The food matching section also very handy.

From there I think it comes down to your own interests. I've got Gambero Rosso guides from 1998-2009 inclusive, though most picked up 2nd hand for little money. I didn't especially like it, though for an English language Italian annual, it was probably best of a poor bunch back in those days. However in recent times they've given up all pretense of writing tasting notes, making it fairly useless to me. Now I have a little better Italian, the annual I like is Bibenda Wine (was Duemilavini) produced by the guild of sommeliers. I rather like a hard copy book, so was disappointed when they went online only recently, but for many this will be a better format. Ratings are similarly simple, which I approve of if they have to make a rating 0-5 grappoli (grape bunches!). However with that come detailed tasting notes rather than the fawning comments that Gambero Rosso used to wheel out. Difficult to get a feel for tastes, perhaps not quite so obviously enamoured with oak / internationalised wines as Gambero Rosso, but nor are they arch-traditionalists.

My favourite book on Italy (in English) is Ian d'Agata's native grapes of Italy book. Relatively expensive, but it's a proper tome, with writing both technically and emotionally strong, which often leaves you thinking ..."I really want to taste a wine from that grape".

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: October 25th, 2017, 7:56 pm
by Ray Zorback
Grapes and Wines by Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand

I've always enjoyed learning about wine from Oz Clarke, whether it's his writing or his CD-ROM from back in the day. The book is actually fine for anyone from novices to those with advanced knowledge. Great illustrations and recommendations, too, for the major varietals. I gave copies of this book to my coworkers in the wine department when I worked in a retail shop a few years ago and they all loved it and their levels of knowledge varied from basic to advanced.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: October 27th, 2017, 7:35 am
by Kevin Porter
I like 'Vino Italiano' by Joe Bastianich but I never see it mentioned in these discussions and my knowledge of and experience with Italian wines is very limited. I'm curious to know what others think of it.

Another that I never see mentioned (perhaps too basic?) is "What to drink with what you eat" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. It's a fun two-way reference - "What should I drink with an Italian Hoagie?" and "I want to drink a Cortese, what should I eat with it?"

Yet another I don't see mentioned here is "How to taste" by Jancis Robinson - not per se a reference but a good discussion of how to develop your palate.

I've enjoyed lots of wine books that are not references - 'Adventures on the wine route' (cited above) is great. "Reading between the wines" by Terry Theise and "The heartbreak grape" by Marq de Villiers are both fun reads.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: November 3rd, 2017, 9:34 am
by Michael Klein
I have always enjoyed Oz Clarke's Wine Maps book. It hasn't been updated in a while, but that doesn't really matter.

What makes it so unique is the topographical maps, which really give you a better sense of place and terroir than most other wine maps.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: November 28th, 2017, 9:52 pm
by Chr!s G|@rn3r
As a newbie myself, one thing i liked about the Wine folly essential guide to wine is that it is not intimidating for beginners, which wine very much can be. It is basic, short, easy to understand with good visuals. Read through it and you’ll have a good base knowledge of the main aspects of evaluating a wine, how those aspects vary by many different varietals, and the popular regions where the varietals are grown. just don’t use it as an ongoing reference for specifics.

I also recommend “what to drink with what you eat” as a go to drink-food pairing guide. It largely focuses on wine, but also has beer, spirits, cocktails etc. There is a brief intro and then basically an encyclopedia of many foods with thier drink pairings, and vice versa. It also specifies how the different preparations of those foods change the pairing recommendations. It has lots of quotes from somms and wine/food professionals on why those things pair well together so it is educational in that way. After awhile, you wont need the book as much because you learn as you go.

I’m starting the world atlas of wine tomorrow!

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: December 1st, 2017, 3:28 am
by Mattstolz
So along with the books already mentioned here (I like the Atlas, the Oxford guide, etc) I think that Wine Folly is a great book, but that it has its place. Its more of an approachable book for your friend that is really new to wine and works at Apple kind of book than a great reference, but the maps are really nice.

I also recently finished Cork Dork and I loved it. fun book with good insight and really entertaining. On the flip side, I also recently read Billionaire's Vinegar and did NOT like it (I have not read In Vino Duplicas) yet though. The lack of a solid outcome in BV bothered me, as did a few other aspects that I won't delve into too much that have to do with personal opinions on unicorn bottles and how they should be treated haha.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: December 2nd, 2017, 7:29 am
by Brian S t o t t e r
What are the differences in what The Wine Bible and The World Atlas of Wine cover? Which of the two do you guys prefer?

Also, is there a good resource (either within these comprehensive guides or elsewhere) for understanding winemaking techniques and their effects on how the end-product? Like understanding old vs. new oak, French vs. American oak, maceration and fermentation techniques, etc.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: December 3rd, 2017, 3:48 am
by Steve Slatcher
Steve Slatcher wrote:For a beginner's text (which I don't think BenB was after actually), I would suggest Michael Schuster's "Essential Winetasting". Whenever I return to it I think it is spot on in the way it makes a potentially complex subject easily understandable without compromising on the facts. Sadly though, it is now looking quite dated in style, even if the content is still largely applicable.
I recently learned this book was updated this year. I haven't seen the updated version, but if it is anywhere near as good as the original this would be a strong recommendation from me.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: January 29th, 2018, 3:27 pm
by Brian Pinci
I know it is dated but it introduced me to the world of wine. I loved reading Alexis Lichine’s Wine of France. I bought when I was in college (60 now). It definitely taught me so much about wine, more than just ratings.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: January 29th, 2018, 6:21 pm
by Brad S c h i e r
Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

it is not in the same genre as the other informational ones mentioned but it is a great and easy read about WW2 through the lens of the wine families who experienced it. If you do read, I hope you enjoy.

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: April 27th, 2018, 11:31 am
by EHeffner
Any more opinions on The Science of Wine by Jaime Goode? I’m new to wine so would like a book to read/skim through, but not sure I want a straight reference book. I want more to learn about different regions, how regions affect flavor and how Wine is made

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: April 27th, 2018, 2:50 pm
by Ian Sutton
Hi Evan
I've not read the book, but Jamie is a good writer, not afraid to be provocative (though probably a lot less so in book than in blog) and wine science definitely a specialty of his,

Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: April 30th, 2018, 8:06 am
by EHeffner
Just bought the Hugh Johnson 2018 pocket guide, Wine. All the time by Marissa Ross. I wanted to buy Wine Folly but I see a new edition is coming this fall so I pre-ordered that one. The science of wine is up next

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 5:02 pm
by Steve Bird
I'm relatively new to wine and after reading this thread I purchased/gifted 3 books and 'read' them in the following order:
1. Jancis Robinson's "The Oxford Companion to Wine". Holy crap, it's an encyclopedia. Literally. It's great to look up specific details about a specific thing. But dear God, not to read.
2. Wine Folly. It IS simplistic. But a good way to start with grape varietals.
3. Michael Schuster's "Essential Winetasting". This book has it all. How to taste wine. Varietals. Details, but written in a way more accessible formate the the Oxford Companion to Wine.

To do it over again, I'd do #2, then #3, and save #1 for another time for information resource.

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 5:18 pm
by David Games
I was looking at Learmonth's "Guide to the Wines of Northern Rhone", which I want, and came across the author Benjamin Lewin that seems to have wine guides to a bunch of different wine regions. Anyone have experience with these Lewin guides?

I am just about finished with Kerin O'Keefe's Barolo/Barbaresco book and wish I had come across this before visiting the area earlier this summer. If you are interested in that area and don't know much about Barolo/Barbaresco, I would recommend this book.

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 7:15 pm
by Drew Goin
David Games wrote:
August 16th, 2018, 5:18 pm
I was looking at Learmonth's "Guide to the Wines of Northern Rhone", which I want, and came across the author Benjamin Lewin that seems to have wine guides to a bunch of different wine regions. Anyone have experience with these Lewin guides?

I bought the John Livingston-Learmonth Wines of the Rhône, as well as the following Faber (aka Faber & Faber) Books on Wine:

French Country Wines by Rosemary George
The Wines of California by Stephen Brook

I recommend the first two; Brook's 1999 updated version is fun to read, but much of the information is terribly brief and doesn't receive the thorough treatment that the books on French wine include.

All copies were purchased on Amazon for less than $10 each.

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: October 3rd, 2019, 8:34 am
by Mike Dutch
Blogs And magazines are a great source too. Try and click on Books.

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: January 28th, 2020, 7:53 pm
by Brian DesPlaines
I started with the The Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and read it cover-to-cover when I first discovered wine. Invaluable resource.

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: February 19th, 2020, 9:47 pm
by Christian Obermanns
If you ever want to read a highly technical (i.e militant) book on the science and methodology of wine tasting, "The Taste of Wine" by Emile Peynaud is noteworthy:

"Each taster works in a booth isolating him from his neighbour. The booths have partitions at the sides and front, made of a light material and which come up to the head height of a seated taster." pg. 105

"The worst type of tasting takes place when visiting wine cellars, where the proprietor or cellarmaster wants to show his wine...There is such an abundance of vinous odours in a cellar and such an optimistic atmosphere that you will find yourself in an olfactory context where impressions are easily distorted. In spite of habit, and whatever one thinks, the cellar is the place where one tastes least well." pg. 83,84

Other takeaways: Do not taste within 1hr of brushing teeth. Occasional tobacco usage is ok. Also, a taster must always be "fit"; not sure what this means exactly as Emile himself was a rather robust man.

Re: Wine Books - Must Haves

Posted: March 24th, 2020, 10:32 am
by John Mensch
Understanding Wine Technology: The Science of Wine Explained by David Bird is a good one. I read it before my first harvest and it gave me a toe-hold on what was going on in the vineyard, the cellar and with the overall winemaking process. If you're not heading into the industry but just want to understand wine more, it's more approachable and readable than a textbook.