Looking to level up your wine game without the yawn-inducing textbooks and classroom structure? You’re in luck. We’ve gathered six sommelier-approved wine books that are perfect for diving into the world of viticulture and vinification without the commitment of a formal classroom.
These books are written by industry veterans, provide tons of valuable information, and are actually fun to read. Stock up, post up with your favorite bottle, and get ready to dive in.
Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm
This casual, easy-to-read wine guide comes to us from one of the industry’s most respected sommeliers, Aldo Sohm. After working many years as the wine director of New York City’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Bernardin, Sohm realized that the best philosophy to take with wine is one that’s simple, encouraging, and fun. This visual-heavy guide provides fundamental information on grape varieties and regions, as well as invaluable tips on how to taste, detect flaws in wine, and create a wine tasting at home. For an accessible yet highly educational approach to learning about wine (with tons of expert advice peppered in), this book is the answer.
Forget what you used to know about California Wine. In The New California Wine, renowned wine writer Jon Bonné explores the state’s up-and-coming generation of winemakers who are changing what it means to make California wine. The book focuses on innovative winemakers who use a modern approach in both the vineyard and the cellar, and above all, who are seeking to showcase terroir rather than over-manipulate wines.
Bonné honestly showcases the current state of California’s viticultural scene (the positives and the negatives), as well as which producers to explore and which to leave behind. Complete with a list of curated references, this book is perfect for domestic wine lovers looking to get in the know.
Vignette: Stories of Life and Wine in 100 Bottles by Jane Lopes
For a personal approach to building your palate, Jane Lopes has the perfect solution. In Vignette, this Aussie-based expat shares her personal journey with wine through 100 bottles (some beer and spirits smattered in) that built the foundation for her career. Through these 100 bottles, Lopes harmoniously combines her personal stories with fundamental wine education, from basic variety and regional facts to palate-building tips for tasting like a pro. This quasi memoir quasi wine book is the ideal pick for those looking to read through a personal narrative and learn about wine simultaneously.
The Dirty Guide to Wine: Following Flavor from Ground to Glass by Alice Feiring and Pascaline Lepeltier MS
For those looking to dig deeper (literally) into the foundations of viticulture and vinification, Alice Feiring and Pascaline Lepeltier’s Dirty Guide to Wine has the answers. This soil-focused book provides an entirely new approach to tasting wine, starting from the ground up. By approaching the source from which it comes, Feiring and Lepeltier prove that there’s so much more than meets the eye when it comes to enjoying a simple glass of wine. Through understanding a wine’s foundations, branching out to find similar juice you’ll enjoy becomes easier, more comprehensive, and above all, more exciting.
Wine Girl by Victoria James
This wine-focused novel written by one of New York City’s top sommeliers showcases the highs and lows of what it takes to make it in one of the world’s most important food and beverage markets. Victoria James courageously shares the humiliations and victories she’s endured while working the floor, as well as the sacrifices she’s made to make it to the top of her game. While not exactly an educational-focused guide, the vino-soaked backdrop of this memoir is one of the quickest page-turners we’ve read all year. Wine lovers looking for a novel to pass the time, this will keep you occupied for at least a handful of days.
Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals by Jordan Mackay and Rajat Parr
From restaurant floor to vineyard plot, Rajat Parr’s knowledge of the wine industry knows no limits. Through his decades-long career, Parr has formed relationships with producers, restaurateurs, and industry legends across the globe, all of which have led him to create this insider’s guide to the wine trade. This, coupled with Parr’s unbelievable tasting skills and ability to identify wines, has beautifully allowed him and Mackay to construct a detailed look into the wine trade from the lens of a top professional. Additionally, Secrets of the Sommeliers is loaded with personal recommendations, stories, and Parr’s own tips for tasting, serving, food pairing, and strategizing in the wine indsutry. Industry professionals, think of this as your golden ticket to an industry legend’s tips for success.