My Favorite Wine Experience Books
While there are many wine books out there, these are my personal favorites. The covers and pages of the titles I’m sharing with you are worn with my constant page turning and referencing. Each book has its own personality, learning style, and information that has helped me in numerous ways as I traverse on my wine knowledge journey.
I hope this list helps you and I’ll continue to share other books I have enjoyed along the way, as this list barely covers my personal wine library, let alone what else is available & on the market. The wine world is ever-changing, so I’m sure in a year or five, this list will evolve.
Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine
by Madeline Puckette & Justin Hammack
This book is one of the best beginner’s guides to wine.
Filled with incredible graphics & maps.
I love this book for:
-Food pairing guides
-Fun facts for different wine styles
- Simple, yet detailed information on how wine is made.
This book clearly explains: (without any air of pretentiousness)
- How wine should be stored
- What temperature to serve specific varietals
- How to read wine labels from around the world
- What wine glass should be used
- What a decent bottle should approximately cost.
There is a great glossary in the back, it’s laid out white to red, light to heavy, but the index in the back is detailed and easy to find specific topics as well.
I do enjoy having books readily available on my phone through the Kindle app, but this is not a book I would suggest for that. Purchase the paperback or spiral bound book, as this is a great reference guide, trust me!
Their website also sells maps, tasting journals and more.
I follow them on Instagram & they’re always sharing great content.
Wine Folly – The Master Guide
by Madeline Puckette & Justin Hammack
I was SO excited when this book came out because I loved the first edition of Wine Folly.
This book also covers:
- How wine is made
- How to taste wine
- Handling, serving & storing wine.
They go more in-depth on food pairings in this book (my favorite part!).
The Master Guide is organized well, instead of ordering wines from white to red, they alphabetized the grapes - there are many more grapes and wine styles discussed in this book.
The wine regions of the world are also alphabetized:
- How to read local labels
- What wines you should explore from certain climates
- Fun facts
I really appreciated that this book did not feel repetitive, there is so much information provided throughout the 300 pages.
There are beautiful graphics and it’s incredibly
~ Well written
~ Easy to understand
~ Easy to process & digest the information
If you’re open to purchasing more than one book, I do not think these are too similar. I would not skip the first Wine Folly, as they both contain unique information and I use both books regularly.
Wine. All the Time.
by Marissa A. Ross
I discovered Marissa Ross on Instagram and was immediately obsessed with her. She is hilarious, loud, intelligent and captivating. She shares an immense amount of her personal life on her Instagram live stories and I want to be her friend.
I purchased her book on kindle and I am SO glad I went that route because:
~she shares great information
~I can easily locate quotes with the search bar
(if I can’t remember exactly what she said about Beaujolais being her favorite wine or how to drink in public.)
Marissa is brilliant, raw, honest and has great advice on trying wine and buying wine.
One of her tidbits I live by now is remembering what importer or distributor was on a bottle of wine I loved & to look for their name on future wines, especially if it’s a new style or producer, because:
“Importers and distributors have a portfolio of wines they represent and usually have a certain style they specialize in”. - Page 197
Great information, right?!
I could go on and on about how amazing this book was & how I’ve read it 3 times already, but you should just go buy it yourself.
I was crying laughing over some of her stories and how she phrases things, she's an excellent writer and I hope to see more work from her in the future.
(**Also, do you think she wants to be friends?)
The World Atlas of Wine
by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson
This is a formal book, one of this first books I started off with and I was immediately overwhelmed. “Where do I start?” was my initial thought, I guess I went to page one?
I definitely have not read every page; however, it was very helpful while I was self-studying for the Sommelier course.
It’s also great for:
~details on specific regions
~all the current AVA ’s, etc.
The first 40 pages or so have great information on:
- What a grape looks like
- How grapes are grown
- Where wine first began
- I enjoy the photos of the different grapes – it’s wild how different Tempranillo grows & looks than Nebbiolo!
This book covers some aspects of terroir, a French word with no direct translation that basically covers climate, dirt and is the reason why wine from one vineyard twenty feet away from another vineyard can taste tremendously different.
Every wine region in the world is discussed in this book, complete with important vineyards & wineries, maps, and photos of suggested wine labels.
This is a great reference book, it’s not necessarily a fun or easy read, but it is an essential addition to anyone building their wine book library.
The Sommelier Prep Course
by Michael Gibson
This book is the reason I passed my Level One Sommelier exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers (https://www.mastersommeliers.org/)
~~I went to a Champagne Tasting at this adorable sparkling wine bar in Pasadena, CA and the Sommelier guiding the course was great, fun & informative, once the tasting ended I asked him for advice on passing the exam, he suggested this book and saved me having to take the exam more than once. ~~
This book allowed me to grasp how wine is made, in the vineyard and then in the winery.
I finally understood::
- The anatomy of a vine
- The history of wine
- How sparkling wine is made
- Wine laws around the world (& I could go on and on - but I’m not going to just list the titles of chapters, you’ll have to buy the book yourself.)
This book takes away a lot of the intimidation with teaching yourself about the wine world.
What I loved about this book:
- At the end of each chapter, there are review questions
- They also have key terms – great for making notes!
- If you’re looking to advance your education in wine, this book is a great start.
One flaw: This book was written in 2010, a lot has changed in the wine world since then, so while it is great for learning basics, some of the facts may now be incorrect or outdated.
Side note: Whenever I’m studying I also like to find quizzes people previously made on Quizlet (it’s an app, there’s also a website quizlet.com)
Wine for Dummies
by Ed McCarthy & Mary Ewing-Mulligan
I love the Dummies brand.
Anytime I am looking to learn something new, they’re a great resource to find: ~information
~other books/ authors
~they truly make processes simple
Dummies books are usually easy to find for an affordable second-hand price as well.
What I enjoyed about this book are the icons they use, such as “remember”, “snob alert”, “worth the search”, etc. This allows the reader to focus on certain subjects if you’re not one to read a book cover to cover.
- Clearly broken down
- Completely independent of each other
- This encourages the reader to start wherever they desire, rather than feeling lost if they only want to read about Spanish wines or buying wine in restaurants.
They also have a pronunciation guide, which (in my opinion) is one of the scariest things about wine.
(Tip: If I cannot figure out how to pronounce a grape, region or really anything - I google “pronounce Beaujolais” “pronounce _______”, usually 3-8 different voices pop up, helping me not sound like a complete idiot when I’m guiding a wine tasting)
Wrapping up my review on this book, it’s great for:
- If you’re looking for the opposite of a “story” book
Make sure you purchase the newest edition, you don’t want to memorize outdated facts.
Downside: There aren’t really any photos & the maps aren’t great.
The Oxford Companion to Cheese
by Catherine Donnelly
OK, I know this isn’t about wine... but what is wine without cheese?
I live to try new cheese
This is a great reference for:
~Wine & beer pairings
~Who doesn’t want to read fun historical stories about Gorgonzola’s origin?
If you’re going to be:
- Hosting wine & cheese parties
- Chowing down on a cheese you’ve never tried before while binge watching Netflix
- Or you want to feel prepared for Trader Joe’s or your local farmer’s market...
Make room for this on your shelf.
Follow my wine journey!