What is currently the best "Wine 101" book?

I’ve been asked this question by an aspiring wino but it’s been way too long since I’ve looked at “Wine 101” type books. In my day, it would have been books like Zraly’s “Windows on the World Wine Course.”

I see that a 35th edition of that work was published in 2020. Is it still the one to get? Any other contenders?


Aldo Sohm’s “Wine Simple” is less dense than Zraly but pretty good.

I’m probably newer to the wine world than many of you and while I’ve enjoyed wine for years, I probably wouldn’t say I nerded out about it until Covid left me with some extra time to dig in. I read a few books and Windows was probably my favorite. The other thing that I did as I was learning more was the Wine Challenge. I didn’t follow the rules exactly because I didn’t purchase the exact same bottles, but it was the first time I tried so many different varietals and took notes on the wine I enjoyed and the ones I didn’t and forced myself to articulate the flavors or reasons why. Also, what I loved about the wine challenge was it was a weekly date with my husband where we intentionally drank a bottle of wine, and talked about it together. It expanded both our pallets and was a fun way to learn more.

When people try to understand taste and flavors, I find Andrea Immer’s Great Tastes Made Simple an easy access point to Wine.

The wine bible… :popcorn:

Wine Folly, Magnum Edition

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I was going to say the same. Even her website is filled with lots of good basics.

It’s actually a good introductory book. It covers a massive amount of information, warts and all.

I haven’t seen the current 3rd edition.

The second addition is online here.

I was just thumbing through my edition of “Windows on the World” and, while now realizing it’s 24 years old, even my edition would be a great 101 book today. I think i got it as a textbook for an expensive wine class I took back in '99.

Also, Wine for Dummies was great for me in 1998, and still seems very comprehensive as i thumb through it right now. Latest edition I would think would be very good.

Well! As a current avid wine book searcher and reader, here is a varied list:

  1. Overall winner would have to be The Wine Bible by Karen McNeil, it covers the most information as pleasantly as possible while allowing the reader the space to either skip, jump, reference, dive deep, etc. as much as they desire. Covers all the major regions.

  2. Wine Folly very nicely covers the principles of wine without the risk of over-educating. Most will find a way to interact with it enjoyably.

  3. The University Wine Course by Marian Baldy is an older book now that covers tasting in an extensive way, it was literally written for university courses. Only for the nerdiest, but extremely knowledge-driven.

  4. The Science of Wine, also only for the nerdy, I would not recommend for an early wine enthusiast unless they have a Chemistry background.

  5. The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson really is quite accessible, but does not inherently provide a natural leaping-off point to regions. Nonetheless, the 80-ish page introduction to wine and its make-up is an easy read, and thoroughly helpful.

  6. Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm is very similar to Wine Folly while being a little less structured and providing some "current trends’ education. I enjoyed it, but didn’t feel as though there were many major “gems” of information. You can tell it was written by a sommelier who isn’t there to tell you what you’re “supposed to be drinking,” which is kind, but also ends up creating some vagueness around certain topics.

  7. For goodness sake, this is not necessarily for novices, but anyone who reads this, please buy Monseigneur le Vin: The Art of Drinking Wine (like the French do). (Amazon.com)

Originally written in 1927 for a French distributor, this reproduction is incredible. Quite frankly, I think that book is what convinced me to start regularly participating on this site. It’s hilarious in a way one could only be seriously funny about wine.

  1. Finally, Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker is a wonderful, wild ride of a book by a journalist turned sommelier. It’s autobiographical, so not directly about learning “about” wine, but you learn plenty about wine. It’s great.

Hope this helps!


Now find your way over to the cycling thread in the Asylum

Jancis Robinson’s How to Taste was the most influential for me when I was getting into wine. More recently, I know people who have enjoyed learning from Wine Folly’s book(s).

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Ha, will do!

No. It’s visually wonderful and has lots of good stuff, but there’s way too much incorrect information to be a truly good 101 book.

I’ve heard so many times people say things that are plain wrong and when I’ve asked where they’ve heard or read this, they’ve given Wine Folly as a source.

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