I used to think the world of wine belonged to middle-aged white men in expensive suits and massive baubly wine glasses. But I’m here to tell you I was wrong; it doesn’t. In fact, it belongs to you and me.
The incomprehensibly enormous wine world belongs to anyone who enjoys a glass of wine on a Tuesday night or a bottle of prosecco to celebrate the new season of GoT.
But it doesn’t mean those experts have no place either. In fact, they write some damn good books if you’re looking to learn more about varietals, styles and trends. There’s some change in the air too; you’ll notice how many female authors feature on this list, and how many of them are challenging what it means to understand and enjoy wine.
All that said, here are some of the best wine books out there. Happy reading!
1. The 24-Hour Wine Expert– Jancis Robinson
Jancis Robinson appears a couple of times on this list and for good reason: she’s one of the world’s most respected wine critics. This tiny book is great for anyone who wants to know more about wine without having to go into all the details.
2. A Year of Wine – Tyler Colman
This lively guide looks at wine through the seasons and pairs each month with its perfect ports, pinot and sparklings. Colman is all about pairing wines with their context, an idea largely overlooked by ‘serious’ wine writers. You’ll also find travel destinations, specific bottle recommendations and interviews with some of the best sommeliers in the world.companion.
3. Wine Folly: A Visual Guide to the World of Wine – Madeline Puckette & Justin Hammack
Finding a great wine is much easier when you understand the fundamentals, and what better way to learn that with this beautiful book? Using infographics and flowcharts, this book covers everything from which glasses to use to simple tasting notes to flavour wheels. If you like your wine education to be unstuffy and colourful, this is your perfect drinking companion.
4. The Wine Bible – Karen MacNeil
This is pretty dense, we’re not going to lie. It’s more than 1000 pages. But that’s what you get when you taste more than 10,000 wines and have visited dozens of wine regions all over the world. This tome dives deep into the fundamentals of wine tasting, and covers more advanced techniques like building a wine-tasting memory. Consider this the advanced chemistry textbook for wine lovers.
5. Windows on the World Complete Wine Course – Kevin Zraly
The brand new 2017 edition of this definitive book demystifies every aspect of wine with lush photos, cool infographics and updates on all that’s new in the world of wine. Perfect for beginners and experts alike.
6. The World Atlas of Wine – Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson
Not all wine books can be called classic, but the first edition of The World Atlas of Wine made publishing history when it appeared in 1971. It’s pretty much the most essential and authoritative reference book out there, and the seventh edition (published in 2013) is considered one of the best.
If you’re interested in the move away from predictable international grapes towards less familiar, local varieties this book is for you. If you’re interested in the increasing importance of cooler-climate regions as the effects of climate change become more apparent – or the growth of China as a grape-grower and wine producer – then this is for you. Basically, if you’re a wine nerd, this is your bible.
7. The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert – Richard Betts
Richard Betts is a Master Sommelier – one of fewer than two hundred in the world. He was interviewed by Tim Ferriss! He’s basically a Wine God. But he’s definitely not a snob. This scratch and sniff book is an introduction to the basic components of good wine – the fruits, the woods and the earth. It’s a perfect gift for anyone who loves a tipple and the smell of oak.
And of course, you’ll need something to sip as you read. All in the name of research. Start with our fun palate profile quiz here and we’ll recommend three bottles for your personal tastes.