Both my husband and I are avid book collectors. He collects (IMHO) way too many science fiction and history books, mostly World War II, and I collect, of course, wine books (and also Sophie Kinsella books, but that’s a whole different subject). I am also guilty of subscribing to way too many magazines. Hello, my name is Mary Cressler and I am a magazine addict and hoarder (my current two favorites are Food & Wine and Runners World in case you were interested). It is an addiction that I am in no hurry to cure.
I am often asked what my favorite wine books are for somebody just getting into wine. I’ve never really listed them until this week. I just sent a friend a long list of great recommendations and thought, why not share them here? Why not share some of the books that have inspired me through my own wine journey and spread the love, passion, and inspiration I have received through these books to others on their own wine journey.
So here goes…
My top 8 Favorite Wine Books (in no particular order):
Why 8? Why not!
1. The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil
This was the very first book I read when I started learning about wine. Don’t be intimidated by the size of this book, MacNeal breaks down the major wine producing countries and regions in a friendly fashion providing stories, useful tips, and regional food pairings. Comprehensive, yet easy to read, I even used this book as one of my primary study guides when studying for the Court of Master Sommelier Certified Exam, even though it was not on their recommended reading list.
2. Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass by Natalie MacLean
This is a fantastic book for the wine novice and expert alike. Although this book provides an informative journey on a variety of wine subjects, MacLeans book reads more like a page turning novel that you can’t put down. It is filled with fun personal stories and expresses MacLean’s genuine nature and passion for wine in each page. MacLean also has a great website full of wine reviews, useful articles, and food and wine pairing ideas.
3. Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert, by Lettie Teague
Another book that reads like a page turning novel! I couldn’t put this one down. Teague, snarky and sassy, just like her Food & Wine magazine articles, provides a fun yet informative story of the year she spent teaching her friend Peter, who only drank fatty Chardonnay, about the nuances of wine. In the end she successfully teaches him (and hopefully the reader) to love and appreciate wine and that there’s more to life than big fatty Chardonnays. Entertaining, funny, and smart!
4. Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier by Andrea Immer Robinson
*Bonus, Andrea gets two shout outs in this list.
Andrea’s credentials go on forever including the fact that she is one of only 16 women in the world who have been appointed Master Sommelier by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. She was also the first woman ever chosen Best Sommelier in the United States by the Sommelier Society of America. Pretty much she is my HERO!
Her books are well-organized and down to earth guides for any level of wine enthusiast. As one of the leading experts on wine in the country, she makes it very easy to understand seemingly difficult terms and wine subjects and offers practical advice throughout. Her books are organized, structured, easy to follow and full of expert advice and information.
5. Everyday Dining with Wine, also by Andrea Immer Robinson, makes the art of food and wine pairing incredibly practical and gets you excited about getting in the kitchen. This book provides 125 recipes along with recommended wine pairings, and is currently one of my favorite books!
6. The Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition by Jancis Robinson
Jancis Robinson is one of THE worlds leading authorities on wine and this book is the ultimate of ultimate wine books with over 3,000 entries and over 800 pages covering almost every single subject in wine. This has to be the most comprehensive book on the subject, period. Basically, this reference guide must be a part of any genuine wine enthusiast library!
For an added bonus. A couple favorite local books.
7. At Home in the Vineyard by Susan Sokol Blosser
This was the first book I read when I moved to Oregon and started learning about the Oregon wine industry. Susan Sokol Blosser provides an inspiring memoir recounting her entry into the Oregon wine industry back in the 70’s, learning everything about vineyards and winemaking and follows her through to her becoming the president of Sokol Blosser Winery. The book also details the growth of the Oregon wine industry from the eyes of one of the pioneers of the industry. A great story for anybody interested in learning about the early history of the Oregon wine industry from one of Oregons pioneers.
8. Passion for Pinot: A Journey Through America’s Pinot Noir Country
Jordan Mackay (Author), with photos by Robert Holmes and Andrea Johnson
Beautifully written, and even more beautifully told in pictures, this book truly captures the spirit and complexities of Pinot Noir. Andrea Johnson, a Portland local, takes some of the most stunning pictures of vineyards, wine, wineries, people, and more.
There you have it! My top 8.
As I was compiling my list of some of my favorite wine books I realized that most of the authors (well all of them with the exception of Passion for Pinot, although I love that book mostly because of Johnson’s gorgeous photographs), are women! Believe me, I have read dozens upon dozens more books on wine, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind as most memorable and the ones I find myself recommending to anybody looking to learn more. Perhaps I am also motivated by some of wine she-roes! And perhaps I am now motivated to write a totally different post on women in wine who inspire me! Now that’s a thought?!
Now, it’s YOUR TURN. I want to know from YOU, what are your favorite wine books? I’m ready to go shopping and looking for recommendations.
At the current moment I am in need of more books on Champagne and sparkling wine, and also food and wine pairing books. But any recommendations will do.
I would love to hear your thoughts!