In life, wine can be a lot of things, but under no circumstances should it never be boring. Sure, there may be a certain amount of pretension attached to it by some, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. To prove that, scores of books have been written on the subject, covering every facet of the industry. No matter what you want to learn about wine, you’re going to find a book about it. That said, some books are better than others.
Whether you’re looking to make your own vino at home, want to read about that wine-loving character before Paul Giamatti played him in Sideways, or simply want to know the difference between Syrah and Shiraz, these books are for you.
The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné
Bonne has become a leading voice in the wine conversation and for good reason. His commentary is compelling and walks the fine line between approachable and geeky. This is a great primer on the current state of the industry and might even make you a more adventurous consumer. Maybe.
Sideways by Rex Pickett
The movie is damn good but so too is the book. Pickett blends dark comedy with wine romanticism beautifully, in a way that appeals to everybody, from Merlot chuggers to Pinot Noir sniffers. In many ways, this is the story that convinced America to start paying a bit more attention to what it was pouring into its collective glass.
Knowing and Making Wine by Emily Peynaud
This is the holy grail for anybody serious about making wine at home or someday working in a cellar. It’s dry, to the point, and often very French, but that’s the point. I turn to my own copy often, especially when I need to dive deeper into the winemaking process. It’s dense, but if you really want to know about theory and practical applications, it’s a must-have.
Postmodern Winemaking by Clark Smith
Clark Smith is a larger-than-life figure. He’s funny, outspoken, ever-critical, and engineers a damn good point or two. This book is a gift to industry types looking to expand their knowledge. But it’s written in a way that’s entertaining to the guy who still doesn’t know that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same thing.
Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson
If you have more than a few bottles of wine at home, you should probably have this book. It’s essentially the world atlas of wine, written by one of the most respected names in the field. It’s not going to knock your socks off with creative license, but it sure as hell is going to give you all the info you need when you crack your next puzzling bottle and want to explain it, somewhat confidently, in front of your pals.
The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Wine books can touch on all kinds of stuff. The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It covers one of the most interesting true stories in world wine history. It has all the drama of a prized Hollywood drama, without the formulaic predictability.
Complete Wine Selector by Katherine Cole
Regrettably, there’s a lot of intimidation still lingering in the world of wine. We’re afraid to ask the wrong question in the tasting room or misinterpret a grape in a blend. This book remedies all that, offering an extremely approachable guide to this vast galaxy. And it’s extremely visual, making it all the more digestible. (You can also listen to Cole on The Manual podcast here.)
Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace
We love stories about extremely expensive shit and this one is no different. Learn just how obsessive wine culture is through this surprisingly arresting tale about the world’s most expensive bottle of wine.
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