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 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”.)
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 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.