Wine 101: Books to Get You Started

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One of the best ways to learn about something is to read about it – especially as we all stay inside during a global pandemic, and classes are… limited. Below are my top five book recommendations for learning more about wine: 

Madeline Puckette, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine

Start here. Seriously – start here. This is a friendly book put together by WineFolly authors on how to understand and taste wine. Information is laid out in easy to understand graphics, which makes this not only a great “read” but really a great handbook to have as you move through your journey. 

Bianca Bosker, Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste

My mom and I have argued about this – she hated it and found it boring. I loved it and thought it gave a new perspective on taste, wine, and the ultimate test. The author is a former journalist who attempts to become a sommelier in one year – ambitious. It’s a quick read that doesn’t feel as… educational as the others while still having some great information. It also serves as a good example of “it can be done” and a reminder to slow down and taste life. 

Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

Now that you have your fundamentals down, and Bianca has piqued your interest in learning more about wine, it’s time to move to this holy grail of wine regions and their different varietals. The Wine Bible has a TON of information, and I find it more explanatory than Zraly’s book below. It’s a staple for anyone interested in learning more beyond the basics. 

Kevin Zraly, Windows on the World, Complete Wine Course

When I first became interested in learning more about wine, this book was recommended by a friend. It is highly regarded as one of the best educational books about wine, but I personally think it shouldn’t be the first book you turn to. The best way to use this book is to follow along and purchase/taste wine from each region described, but first you need to know what you’re doing. Like The Wine Bible above, save this for once you have a better basic understanding and are ready to explore different regions and their unique characteristics. 

Rod Philips, 9000 Years of Wine

So, you leveled up again from tasting and recognizing regions and their different wines. Now it’s time to get into the good stuff and figure out how the heck wine has lasted this long (besides the fact that it’s delicious). Wine has been a cultural staple around the world for years. Dive into this book and see how it has fit in throughout history. 

Ready for more? When it is safe to do so, check out your local wine shop, wine bar, and winery. Many have classes or longer tastings where there is an emphasis on learning and exploring wine. Before COVID, we took a class at Total Wine on Cabernet Sauvignon and loved it! 

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