There are so many books that can aid you in learning about wine!
Spend any time around wine lovers and experts and you will quickly find that most are avid readers. In studying for any of the wine certifications through entities such as WSET (Wine and Spirit Educational Trust), CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers), Wine Guild, and Certified Specialist of Wine, one will find that a lot of reading is involved.
It is no surprise, moreover, that many of these books are written by women - 8 out of 10 bottles of wine consumed in home are purchased by women!
Each book on an aspect of wine has different ideas and different goals for the reader. When picking out wine books, there are many things to consider.
This blog will help you differentiate typical types of wine books and help you decide which is best - and most interesting - for you.
Wine 101 Books
All wine novices, wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and sommeliers all started at the same place … the beginning! But not all beginning wine books are the same. Some encourage us to memorize specific regions, while others focus on discerning aromas and flavors and demystifying “wine speak.” Some encourage us to explore the world of wine with abandon, while others suggest we focus on the classics. Some are text-heavy while others appeal with images and tables.
Best Wine 101 Book for the Visual Learner
Wine Folly: Magnum Edition
If you learn best through maps, eye-pleasing graphics, and smaller snippets of text, then Wine Folly: Magnum Edition is the best wine book for you. This book was awarded the 2019 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Beverage. Wine Folly co-founders are Madeline Puckette (sommelier) and Juston Hammack (digital strategist). If you are a fan of the Somm movie series, you may have seen Madeline in Somm: Into the Bottle.
The book begins with a short overview of wine basics presented with graphics and images. Basics covered include wine labels, types of wine, how to taste wine, how to choose wine, how wine is made, and how to pair wines. It then shifts into an overview of the major grape varieties and wines of the world, with charts and diagrams outlining their geographic distribution, acreage and what smells and tastes to expect. The book recommends wines to explore from each region.
Best Wine 101 Book When You are Crunched For Time
The 24-Hour Wine Expert
Jancis Robinson, the most respected wine critic in the world and well known for authoring and co-authoring some of the heftiest wine books, distills over four decades of wine knowledge into this petite book.
We love this easy-to-read overview written, with humor, in plain English. The book introduces key concepts then gets right down to the business of choosing the right bottle, matching wine and food to the occasion, and seeking out wine values. After explaining how to handle wine, the book covers the most common grapes and wine regions.
Fun and concise, this book answers many beginner wine questions and may leave you wanting to learn more about wine after following the suggested exercises. You can also check out Jancis in The Somm Series.
Wine Consumer Review Books
Not everyone who shops for good wine values is interested in learning a lot about wine. I get it. I love grilled veggies, but I’m not that into outdoor grills. If I need to buy a new grill, I’d consult a consumer review publication or do some online research to find the best grill at a certain price.
General wine review books focus on getting you the best value for your dollar on wines you see year-in year-out in large wine retailers like Total Wine, Target, and Wal-Mart.
For the more wine savvy, other annual publications focused on getting you the best value in a given vintage or vintage + growing region. These books are aimed at emerging or serious collectors placing orders online or through a local wine shop, or at those purchasing wines at restaurants.
Best Wine Consumer Review Book
Good, Better, Best Wines
If you are looking for a good, cheap wine under $15 that’s available almost anywhere you shop, then this book is great to have on your e-reader App as you browse the aisles.
Canadian wine judge and wine columnist Carolyn Evans Hammond covers the best $5 to $15 wines distributed throughout the United States and Canada. She covers Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rosé, sparkling wines, and other great inexpensive red and white wines.
Harried shoppers will enjoy this book’s simplicity - Carolyn lists “Good, Better, Best” with an image of each bottle to make shopping a breeze. She also makes recommendations for those looking for a super low-priced Tuesday night wine as well as dessert wines and party wines. The book ends with best hidden gems.
In addition to checking out Carolyn’s book, see our recommendations for wine shopping at the grocery store.
Wine Books About the Pleasures of Wine
Let’s face it, we consume wine for pleasure.
People who enjoy wine derive different pleasures from its consumption, which can include
The rituals surrounding wine service in fine dining
Relaxing with a complex glass of wine in your favorite chair
Exploring the pairing of wine with different food flavors and cuisines
Gifting or sharing a coveted bottle with family, clients, or friends
Seeking out and finding underdog wines
...and much more
These books encompass several aspects of the world of wine. The best combine culture, travel, gastronomy, and poetry.
Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Short Story Lovers
Wine in Words
Wall Street Journal Wine Columnist Lettie Teague shares mini-essays on many wine topics including wine myths, wine culture, and wine exploration. We’re a big fan of Lettie’s wine advice, including “Drink what you don’t know.”
Lettie has been writing about wine for years and the stories in these essays dispense knowledge while gently poking fun at wine insiders.
Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Foodies
Art of Eating
This book is a compilation of some of the most sensuous books on food and wine. Sixty years have passed since these works were written and they continue to delight readers.
If you want to go back to a time before busyness, microwaves, fast food, and food blogs, then get a taste of M.F.K Fisher’s food and wine writing. His dark humor is a reprieve from today’s “look at me” wine and food social media gastronomy content.
Wine Reference Books
Sommeliers and wine lovers collect books in much the same way we collect wine. Book collecting is a pleasure, as well as a necessity, for those in the business. Most wine certification programs require prospective sommeliers to read literature produced or recommended by the certifying body. Wine reference books can be heavy tomes (some weigh in at more than six pounds!) which makes e-reader versions better on the back.
Some of the books in this genre focus on breadth of coverage for wine servers, while others go in depth on topics like soils, production practices, wine chemistry, or wine region.
Best, Most Comprehensive Wine Reference Book
Oxford Companion Wine
From “amphora” to “Zinfandel,” this is the wine reference book for serious enthusiasts and those studying for various wine certifications. Comprised primarily of definitions, maps, and images, it also includes topics such as the following: wine regions, history, viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, famous wine people, and labeling and tasting terms. The book won the James Beard Award and many others.
Best Wine Reference Book for Tasting a World of Wine
The Wine Bible
Hey, it’s not called The Wine Bible nothing.
Karen MacNeil’s wine tome checks in at over 1000 pages, so we find Kindle the easiest way to carry around all this wine knowledge. This book is the accumulation of years of tasting and wine education since she got her start in the male-dominated wine world of the 1980s. Where many wine books either skim the surface or go very in depth, Karen’s Wine Bible touches on a breadth of topics for both beginners and intermediate-stage wine lovers.
Its many maps, photos, travel stops, wine flavor profiles, and wine pairing suggestions make this the best wine book for travel to wine regions when you know just a little about wine. This book is good for analytical types who prefer text, tables, and diagrams that are clear and efficient. If you are looking for more infographics and less text, some of the other wine books we recommend here might be a better fit.
Wine Essays and Wine Trends
Essays on trends in wine have emerged as a popular kind of wine writing over the past 10 years. These books often cover hot topics like sommelier and restaurant culture as well as vineyard and cellar practices.
Best Unpretentious Wine Book of Wine Essays
Wine All the Time
Marissa writes about drinking in the real world, four-letter words and all.
Her journey started with drinking all the “two buck Chuck” wines of the world. Then she made a video series called Wine Time. After working as Mindy Kaling’s assistant for four years, Marissa landed a book deal and a role as Bon Appetit contributor.
Between all the jokes and LOL moments, Marissa dispenses with some good beginner wine information.
Best Journalist-Infiltrates-Wine-Connoisseurship-Culture Book of Wine Essays
Those wanting a front row seat to “rock-star” sommelier culture will enjoy this book. It reveals the lengths that somms and serious students of wine will go in pursuit of certifications.
Journalist Bianca Bosker takes an investigative reporter approach to learning the world of wine in New York City. Fans of Kitchen Confidential and other “foodie” books may really enjoy this look into the world of the wine-obsessed.
As you can see, there are many different types of wine books meeting different needs. And we’ve only taken a closer look at wine books written or co-written by women!
Regardless of your wine reading intention, we hope you have enjoyed our recommendations of some of our favorites!