There seems to be as many wine books published as there are wines produced. To take this analogy further, some are more approachable than others. If you are a novice, you may just need some basic advice to navigate the retail store or your restaurant’s wine list. Budding oenophiles may want more detailed reference books. Here are a few suggestions.
Recently, I skimmed the Secrets from the Wine Diva: Tips on Buying, Ordering and Enjoying Wine by Christine Ansbacher, after reading an excerpt in a syndicated magazine. The writer’s witty style and organized material, make this both an informative and enjoyable read. Her wine and food pairing acronym alone is worth the price of the book.
I often recommend How To Taste: A Guide To Enjoying Wine by Jancis Robinson as it guides you through the major grape varieties plus uses practical exercises to enhance the text. She also introduces you to the language of wine by describing specific characteristics you should look for when tasting. Jancis is a respected voice in the wine community, with numerous books and courses plus her column in the London Financial Times.
Once you have read these, you will not only feel less intimidated by wine but may even “thirst” for more knowledge. The next two books will act as references for your new passion (or obsession).
Windows On The World Complete Wine Course 2007 by Kevin Zraly is like going to a wine school in your home. Kevin has been an educator for 35 years and his enthusiasm for wine jumps off the pages. It will leave you wanting more.
That brings us to the next book, Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible. As the director of the wine program at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, CA, her love of the subject is infectious. The "bible" is broken down into countries and highlights not only specific wines and producers, but also the local foods and customs. Although this book was written in late 2001, the information is being updated for release in 2008.
If that is not enough information, heft the new edition of The Oxford Companion To Wine, Jancis Robinson, editor. This is a wine encyclopedia with over 3,000 entries. This is a serious reference, people.
Lastly, for the Monty Python fan and wine novice, make a good meal, invite your friends, open a bottle and rent Wine for the Confused with John Cleese.