The Best Wine Books to Read

Summer is the seasonwinebook for reading. In addition to novels and biographies, wine books can make excellent choices for drifting away with the written word — especially with a glass of your favorite wine at hand. Here are five wine books that will keep those interested in wine — from beginners to experts — engaged for hours.

  1. The Wine Bible

It may seem pretentious to include the word “Bible” in the name of any tome other than “the good book,” but just like “that other book,” Karen MacNeil’s vinous opus has stood the test of time.

Thoroughly researched, deftly organized and lavishly illustrated, The Wine Bible leaves no vineyard pebble unturned as it provides readers with both fascinating and useful information on the various varieties of wine and the world’s wine regions.

While the breadth of information is impressive, it is MacNeil’s writing that will keep you riveted. For example, after describing Cabernet Sauvignon as the preeminent classic red grape,” MacNeil writes: “More than any other, cabernet has vast ranges of quality, of structure, and of maturity. It is astounding that a wine so often a bit angular and introverted when young can metamorphose into a satiny, rich, and complex wine with several years’ aging. Cabernet can be like the awkward, seemingly unremarkable kid who grows up to be a Fullbright Scholar and sexy to boot.”

2. Vineyard Sonoma County

In his younger days, George Rose photographed many of the world’s most famous rock-and-roll stars. More recently, he has focused his lens(es) on the beauty of California wine country. This book presents the stunning vineyards and landscapes of Sonoma County — Napa Valley’s less famous but no-less-beautiful neighbor to the west. It’s a true feast for the eyes.

  1. What to Drink With What You Eat

Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page authored a true “Page turner” for foodies and wine lovers — two groups of people whose interests often overlap. It has been asserted that pouring the “right” wine alongside the “right” dish is the key to culinary nirvana, and this book provides plenty of wise advice. But it doesn’t stop with wine; it also delves into beer, spirits, coffee, tea and even water as potential pairing partners for various dishes.

  1. Wine Folly 

Forget the “For Dummies” series. This book, written by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack, is the ultimate resource for newcomers to wine. If you have a friend who is just getting into the wonderful world of wine, Wine Folly would make a great gift.

  1. The Oxford Companion to Wine

The Washington Post calls this “the greatest wine book ever published.” First released in 1994 and now in its fourth edition, Jancis Robinson’s life work certainly could be considered the most “scholarly” of books about wine. It features an “A-to-Z” format, which makes it easy to find what you’re looking for — if you know what you’re looking for.

Each of these books has its own purpose and its own style. Select one that sounds good to you, and supplement your summer reading with some captivating wine wisdom.

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Posted in Editor's Journal, Wine Buzz
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