Essential Reading: Books for New Wine Geeks

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Whether you’re a new wine aficionado or a seasoned collector, these five picks - three reference guides and two “just for fun” books - are a great starting point for building a wine library.  If you’ve been bitten by the wine bug, reading about wine can be just fun as drinking it!  (Okay, almost.)  Any other must-have titles you recommend?  Leave us your essential reading lists in the comments below and be entered to win a copy of “The World Atlas of Wine”!

wine for dummies

Wine for Dummies by Ed McCarthy

This is the very first wine book I bought, purchased the year I was hired into the wine world. Being a complete neophyte to wine, this helped me build my knowledge base so I could quickly understand wine basics and terminology – particularly important when I began dealing with wine collectors on the telephone. The book gives you a crash course starting with basic grape varietals, wine growing regions, how to read a wine label (which can be quite tricky depending on where the wine is from), ordering wine off a restaurant list, shopping for wine, serving it, and how to taste it.

The best part of this book for anyone having to speak to other people who know about wine already: the pronunciation guide – to prevent you from making the Burgundy collector you’re speaking with cringe at your pronunciation of “Domaine Leroy”. (Hint: it’s not pronounced “LEE-roy”.)

wine bible
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil

Considered to be the most complete wine book in existence, this reference is an absolute must-have for wine newbies and connoisseurs alike. The Wine Bible starts with an introduction to how wine is made, a glossary of grape varietals, and includes detailed descriptions of world wine regions, their wines, and notable producers. For those who appreciate food, there is an entire section dedicated to strategies for wine pairing.

world atlas
World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson

This beautifully produced book is jam-packed with information, charting all the major wine regions of the world and speaking about their soil, climate, and grapes. Not only is it an invaluable resource for those just beginning to learn about wine, but it is a book widely used as a reference by even the most seasoned wine professionals.  Highly recommended for anyone who has even the slightest inkling of interest in vino.


The Road to Burgundy by Ray Walker

I’d never heard of Ray Walker or Maison Ilan before I saw him on the Burgundy episode of No Reservations, starring Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre, but after learning that Ray hails from the Bay Area automatically put me in his corner.

He recounts the story of how he discovered his passion for Burgundy, quit his job, uprooted his family from Northern California, and set off to pursue his dream as a winemaker.  Starting a winery despite a notoriously closed and exclusive network – especially for an American – is no easy feat.  You can feel Ray’s energy jump off the pages in this book – a fun and interesting peek into the world of  French winemaking.


Judgment of Paris by George M. Taber

The author of this book was the only reporter present at the historic Paris Tasting of 1976 – the tasting that essentially put California on the map as a force to be reckoned with in terms of wine production.  The effects of the judgment were felt far and wide, as it opened up the world to the idea of the globalization of wine, and paved the way for Napa Valley (and all of California) to flourish as a wine region.

The Future of Wine Provenance Is Bitcoin


Digital Provenance: How Wine Bottles Will Be Tracked Using Bitcoin


Bitcoin is going to revolutionize the way that wine provenance is understood in the digital age.  Imagine a world in which you hold ownership of both a physical bottle of wine and a unique digital record that verifies exactly who owned the bottle of wine before you – traceable all the way back to the original producer.  Bitcoin has created a platform that enables digital asset transfers across the internet.  The wine industry is now presented with the opportunity to leverage an emerging technology to make digital provenance a reality.  By associating each physical asset (a wine bottle) with a digital asset (a minuscule fraction of a bitcoin), one can create a traceable, pseudo-anonymous, decentralized, permanent historical archive of wine transactions.

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7 Great Tasting Rooms for World Travelers

Truly passionate wine lovers know that tasting wine involves all the senses.  A beautiful glass of wine can pair well with innovative architecture, eye-catching vistas, relaxing accommodations, and of course, first class food, so we’re bringing you seven of our favorite wineries where tasting is an experience to behold.  We know there are dozens of stunning wineries out there to see, so if we missed your personal favorite, give us your recommendation in the comments below!

The Grand Chai at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac, Bordeaux, France)

One of Bordeaux’s jewels, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild received “first growth” status in 1973. A tasting here is not simply a tasting – it’s an event. The tour begins with a short film on the history of the estate, and continues with a stroll through an elegantly designed, state-of-the-art vat room, Grand Chai (Great Barrel Hall – designed by architect Charles Siclis), and private museum of carefully curated wine artifacts, culminating in a tasting of several of their world-famous wines.

opus one
The iconic Opus One Winery

Opus One (Oakville, Napa Valley, USA)

A collaboration between the Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, this winery was founded in 1980 and merges old and new world styles into a harmonious Magnum Opus. The iconic winery, designed by Scott Johnson, has beautifully sculptural archways, halls of classic French-style furniture mixed with more contemporary pieces, and a stunning semi-circular barrel room (if one can call a chai “stunning”, this one is!), not to mention the wonderful view of the vineyards from the terrace. The tasting room itself is quite intimate, but just the right atmosphere for enjoying a glass of their ultra-premium wines.

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Self-Storage Wine Lockers: The Hidden Costs

Storing your wine in a locker is not the bargain that you might think. There are many people in the wine collecting community that have chosen to store their wine in self-service wine locker facilities, as shown by the rise in recent years of ‘do-it-yourself’ locations popping up across the U.S. These are often viewed as the most-cost effective way to store your wine collection. But what collectors often fail to take into consideration are three major factors that, in the end, can cost them far more each year than storing with a full-service wine storage operation.

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Zen and the Art of Barcode Printer Maintenance

A lot of things go into collecting wine.  Beautiful cellars with dramatic show cases, cunning social jiu-jitsu that lands you on that exclusive distribution list, fun social events comparing wine knowledge with a fellow collector.  But one of the more mundane elements is individually identifying every bottle in your collection.  Each bottle is truly unique and takes on a life of its own after leaving the winery.  Currently, the most practical and convenient way to keep one bottle distinctly identifiable is to give it a number and put that number on the bottle… a.k.a. “barcode” it.

This fundamental tracking tool is not to be taken lightly.  Provenance is important, even when it’s the micro provenance of your own collection as it moves from your home cellar to a storage facility, from one location to another.  You want to know where they are at all time and always know from what source they came.

Recently we made a commitment at Vinfolio to only suggest, supply and support a barcode printing solution that we use for our own internal storage operations.  Below is a summary of the thought process that went behind this decision. Continue reading

Seven Guidelines For Storing Your Wine Collection

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How you store your wine collection is one of the most important decisions you can make as a collector. Not all wine storage solutions are the same. If you don’t have your wine stored properly, you may find out years later that your treasured collection is worth pennies on the dollar.

Here are seven guidelines for storing your collection.  Continue reading