In my wine journey, I have read many books. Some are good and informative about their subject. Some left me wanting more. But there are a few that I keep going back to help me in my studies. Here are six books that everyone should have in their book collection. From the novice to the aficionado.
For Those Beginning Their Wine Journey
Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné
Are you at the starting point of your wine journey? These are two must-have books to go a bit further than the “Chardonnay is a white, Cabernet is a red” thinking. Both are informative and to the point, without a ton of exposition or fanciful diatribes.
Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine is from the founders of one of my favorite wine websites. This book is vibrant and educational. Great graphics and a simple approach to teaching the basics of wine makes it accessible. My favorite section is about flavor components of different grape varietals. You learn that oak aging in Cabernet Franc will impart notes of cola, sweet tobacco, coffee, and cocoa. Or, if you are looking for the fruit components of Nero d’Avola, it may be fruit roll-ups and Chinese plum sauce. This a fun, simple book without pretension that everyone can enjoy. UPDATE: There is a new Wine Folly book coming out this fall! Bigger and better!!
Jon Bonné is one of my favorite wine writers. I enjoyed his work as a wine critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is now the senior contributing editor at Punch. Bonné’s New Wine Rules is a terrific book if you are starting out with wine or if you’ve been around the game long enough. Bonné keeps his rules uncomplicated and straightforward on a variety of topics. From how white wines can be your best value to what rights you have as a wine customer. The New Wine Rules is a fun and informative read you can breeze through in the time it takes to polish off a bottle of rosé.
For the Wine Drinker Blinded by Science
The Science of Wine – From Vine to Glass by Jamie Goode
In school, science was never my thing. It was a step up from math class, but I didn’t find it exhilarating. Now as an adult, I find myself delving deeper and deeper into the world of science as I move along in my wine studies. If you are going to understand wine, you will have to know the science behind it. Jamie Goode’s Science of Wine has been my go-to book for learning the technical side of winemaking. Goode’s book has a clean, simple, and accessible approach that even a non-scientist can follow. Everything from vineyard practices and winemaking, to how our brains perceive flavors and aromas. I keep going back to this book more and more to study for my wine certifications. If you are science-inclined or an all-around nerd, this book is for you.
For the Wine Drinking History Buff
Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup
The French love their wine. The story of how they protected their most treasured commodity during World War II is the story of Wine & War. I’ve had my copy of this book for about fifteen years and have read it many times. The extraordinary efforts that winemakers took to preserve a symbol of their heritage from Nazi oppressors is a thrilling and emotional story. After reading this book, you will look at both French wine and the French people in a different light.
For the Wine Drinker Who Likes Tiny Bubbles
Champagne by Peter Liem
Peter Liem is America’s foremost authority on Champagne. His newest book about this French region and the wine style it is famous for is both a love letter and a tribute to a classic wine. Liem’s Champagne has received many well-deserved accolades this year. Everything you could want to know about Champagne is within. From soil and vineyard sites to labels and the personalities behind them. This a beautiful book packaged in a box set with seven color reproductions of maps first made available in 1944. I love Champagne, and I love Peter Liem’s Champagne.
For the Wine Drinker, Who Likes to Explore
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz
1,368 grape varieties
Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes is an indispensable guide to almost 1,400 wine grapes from across the globe. From Abbuoto to Zweigelt. From 377 distinct Italian varieties to the lone Malaga Blanc varietal of Thailand. Inside you will find the origins and parentages of different varietals and their viticultural characteristics. Where the variety is grown and what it tastes like. You will find both synonyms of grapes and their misidentifications as well. Add in beautiful color plates of 19th Century paintings, and you have something special. Wine Grapes is a hefty book in both size and knowledge, and one of my favorite books to learn from.
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