Must-Read Books for Wine Lovers Offer Advice and Insight for Collectors of All Experience Levels

Books for Wine Lovers

Reading about wine can be just as important as drinking it, especially when you pick up books that give you in-depth knowledge into specific varietals, regions, or markets. Photo Credit: Flickr CC user Quinn Dombrowski

We’ve written about the importance of wine education on this blog before, including a list of the best classes you can take to become a serious collector, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on formal classes to learn everything you need to know about wine. When you read these books for wine lovers, you supplement your real-life experience with the same kind of knowledge you can get in a formal class, all from the comfort of your home. The goal of a great wine reading list is to make connections between what you’re reading and what you’re drinking, improving your own collection along the way.

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil

This is the quintessential book for brushing up on wine fundamentals. The Wine Bible contains information on every type of wine, terroir, technique, producer, and style you will ever encounter. Not only does MacNeil provide you with simple definitions, she explains why they matter, going into topics such as what makes a wine high-quality, why sparkling wine has bubbles, what you should look for in a great Port, how to pair wine with food, and how to store your wines like a pro.

Why You Need This Book

Sommelier Jason Wagner says, “It’s pretty comprehensive, but written in a style that’s easy to read.” This is what makes the book a must-have for all experience levels, from beginner to seasoned expert: there’s essential information in the book that’s important for every collector to know, written in a style that’s engaging for both. Even if you’re convinced you know everything there is to know about wine, there’s a good chance you’ll find a useful tidbit in the pages of this book. You should read it all the way through once, then keep it on a shelf to reference whenever you shop for wine online, using its varietal-specific tips to your advantage.  

The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace

Wine fraud is a looming fear among collectors of all experience levels, and The Billionaire’s Vinegar is the ultimate example of what you should never do with your own collection. Wallace explores the events that led up to the greatest wine fraud in known history: the sale of 1787 Chateau Lafite that was allegedly owned by Thomas Jefferson himself. The bottles were sold for $156,000 at auction, only to be outed as fakes years later. It’s the story of how wine experts discovered the fraud, and the way it shook the wine world to its core.

Why You Need This Book

This book is a reminder that wine fraud can happen to anyone, even if you’ve been a collector for decades. It keeps you on your toes, teaching you how easy it is to fake the most expensive bottles of wine in the world. You’ll learn some of the tricks for spotting a fraudulent wine, and how frauds manipulate you into investing in phony bottles. You’ll learn why buying wine from trusted sources that inspect bottles for authenticity is the best way to prevent fraud in your own cellar.

Taste Like a Wine Critic by Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Taste Like a Wine Critic is the best resource for learning how to write effective tasting notes without falling victim to useless jargon. You learn how to taste and write about wine using a methodical approach that allows you to ascertain the basic mechanics of the wine’s structure and determine its overall worth. It also teaches collectors and would-be critics which wine qualities matter more than others, like ripeness or concentration.

Why You Need This Book

If you’ve ever written a tasting note, whether for yourself or for others, you must read this book. You’re taken through a step-by-step process which teaches you how to assess wines like a real critic would for a publication. As a Master of Wine, Perrotti-Brown has years of experience under her belt that you can use to strengthen your own notes. Have you ever gone back to read a tasting note that you wrote years ago, only to discover that you have no idea what you were trying to say? When you taste dozens of bottles every year, you need effective notes that jog your memory that can help you make informed choices when buying wines in the future.

The Great Domaines of Burgundy by Remington Norman

Burgundy is one of the most intimidating regions to get into as a collector, but this book teaches you everything you need to know to get started. It’s a comprehensive look at the hundreds of small estates in this region, categorized by usefulness for buyers. You’ll get a list of the current “rising stars” that are revised with every new edition, along with stories about what makes each estate special.

Why You Need This Book

If you want to buy even a few bottles of Burgundy, you need to check out this book first. Sommelier Patrick Cappiello says that it’s “definitely on the geekier side” of the wine industry, but if you want to become a serious Burgundy collector, you need to dive in deep to compete on the market. You’ll get a leg up on your fellow collectors who might not be aware of some of the lesser-known estates mentioned in this book. Burgundy collectors are most successful when they buy the best wine from the smallest estates, then wait for those wines to appreciate in value as they gain a cult following. This book tells you everything you need to know about the current trends.

Reading Between the Wines by Terry Theise

Sommelier Carla Rzeszewski says Reading Between the Wines has an “unabashed love of wine and its sensuality, not to mention Terry’s vocabulary, which is a rebel treat.” This book is less about basic wine knowledge, and more about the artistry of wine. Theise takes you through what it means to be an “artisan winemaker” in the modern wine world, and why he thinks we’re getting too far away from our roots.

Why You Need This Book

It’s easy to start seeing your bottles as pure investment pieces, especially when you sort through pages and pages of market data every day. Your fine wines become numbers on a chart, rather than the pieces of art they were meant to be. This book is a palate cleanser for the other books on this list. Now that you’ve read up on mountains of market data, wine fraud, ratings, and trendy estates, you need a reminder of why you collect wine in the first place. Theise teaches you how to use your new wine knowledge for good, understanding the importance of not only having the most valuable bottles, but slowing down and valuing them on an artistic level as well.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.

Harley is an Executive Wine Specialist for Vinfolio, helping collectors find the best wines for their collection. He’s a lover of everything outdoors and the proper bottles to go along with it. You can find him at any of the newest cocktail bars and restaurants in SF or on an adventure somewhere in between Lake Tahoe and the California coastline.