There’s no time like the present to hit the books like a Master Somm and become a bona fide Wine Guy. A little reading can give you the confidence to order from the most intimidating of wine lists and the vocabulary to discuss each bottle that goes beyond the basics. You can do better than “full-bodied,” sir.
Of course, since there are more tomes dedicated to the subject than there are grape varietals—at present, that’s about 10,000—you need to put as much care into picking a page-turner as you would a bottle of Burgundy.
To help you out, we’ve pulled together four wine books that cover the most essential topics for budding oenophiles. That’s everything from grape varietals and regions to the winemaking process and cellaring. These titles promise not only to boost your wine knowledge but also to give you a greater appreciation for each bottle’s provenance and history. You’ll be a fully-fledged wine connoisseur in no time.
1. The Wine Bible
Considered to be the Holy Grail of wine literature, this is a book of truly biblical proportions. It covers the who, what, when, where, why and how of wine and primes readers on all the fundamentals. The pages are sprinkled with amusing anecdotes and wine-world gossip that make the book an especially entertaining read.
Pros: The knowledgable author, Karen MacNeil, has tasted more than 10,000 wines and has a great voice that’s a delight to read.
Cons: It was last updated in 2015, so it’s not quite current.
2. The World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition
Since 1971, The World Atlas of Wine has been schooling novices and enthusiasts alike on all things wine. Now in its eighth edition, the tome has been given a complete overhaul to ensure it’s up to date with the latest happenings within the world of wine. This edition offers a deep-dive into the burgeoning new regions across the globe and features 22 new maps to get readers up to speed.
Pros: The book features stunning photography throughout to transport you to each region.
Cons: At 416 pages, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Take your time with a glass of wine.
3. Wine Folly: Magnum Edition
This inventive book is a fantastic reference point, regardless of your wine knowledge. Packed with colorful illustrations and maps, it presents complex information in an entertaining and accessible way. The James Beard Award-winning title also features a special food and wine pairing section, plus a primer on acidity and tannins, to help you refine your palate and taste wine like a pro.
Pros: The book features do-it-yourself tasting exercises that you can test out.
Cons: We’re thirsty for more, 320 pages just isn’t enough.
4. Living with Wine
This artful hardcover allows readers to meet some of America’s most passionate wine collectors and then take a tour of their remarkable cellars. Featuring a spate of high-profile connoisseurs, such former American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and entrepreneur Rick Ryan, the book demonstrates what it means to love and collect wine. Covering some 30 custom cellars, the tome highlights both cutting-edge preservation technology, as well as cellar design.
Pros: It’ll give you a ton of ideas for your own cellar setup.
Cons: There’s not a great deal of information about wine itself.