Wine Books - Must Haves

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.

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.

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!

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.

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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.

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.

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 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.

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

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,

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

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.

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.

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.

Blogs And magazines are a great source too. Try and click on Books.

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.

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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.

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.

I recently read three biographies of wine business personalities and loved all of them:
Direct - My story By Tony Laithwite
Red & White By Oz Clarke
Wine - A Way of Life By Steven Spurrier

Lots of inspiration, and off course the stories around wine.

This book can be very difficult to find. I bought my copy when I was in Bordeaux visiting Lafon-Rochet. Another book I didn’t see in this thread is one that I find quite useful is: “What To Drink With What You Eat” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.