Building a Library: Essential Wine Books

Wine and collecting go together like oysters and Chablis. While many of us have a cache of bottles on hand, there are times when wine alone can’t quite satisfy our thirst for knowledge. Here’s a list of books about wine to curl up and read, as well as a wine pairing suggestion for each title. Look for their current editions in stores or online, especially if you want a great holiday gift idea for any wine lover.


Wine For Dummies, by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan

Don’t let the title fool you – this book is an excellent resource for building your overall appreciation of wine. Whether you know nothing or have a solid foundation, it will guide you through everything, from tasting technique, to grape varieties and growing regions, to tips on buying and collecting. There’s even an appendix of wine term pronunciations. Wine For Dummies is a vital text for any library, big or small.

Recommended with: Just like this book, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent introduction to wine.


The World Atlas of Wine, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

The title says it all – this is literally a comprehensive atlas of wine-growing regions from throughout the world. Maps, illustrations, and photographs are detailed and informative, along with explanations of the regions and their grapes. If you’ve ever wondered where your wine came from, this is the book to read.

Recommended with: Few wines express their sense of place better than crisp, mineral-driven Chablis.


Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours, by Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding

This monumental work is the ultimate reference for all things grapes. Learn about their individual characteristics, synonymous names, family trees, growing regions, and pretty much anything else you ever wanted to know. Also, the grape illustrations are simply stunning. It’s a gorgeous book (perfect for a coffee table) that really gets to the heart of complex wine topics.

Recommended with: Cross off a few of the 1,368 vine varieties with Valpolicella, a red blend from Veneto, Italy.


Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, by Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan

Are you fond of Champagne? Then this book is right up your alley. Profiles on all the Grandes Marques down to the smallest growers adorn these pages, along with complete explanations of production methods, labeling, qualitative ratings, and of course, additional sparkling wine regions and styles from around the globe. If you ever needed a reason to pop open a bottle of bubbly and a book, here it is!

Recommended with: Celebrate reading with Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, or any other sparkling wine! Curious about the differences between these sparkling styles? Check out this blog post.


What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea – Even Water – Based on Expert Advice from America’s Best Sommeliers, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

While we’re always of the opinion that you should drink what you like, it never hurts to have some sound advice at your disposal if you want to pair wine with food. This book expertly guides you through this often intimidating task, starting with the basics, and then provides a range of options for both what to drink with what you eat, and vice versa. There are even suggested pairings for menus from some of America’s best restaurants. Just be warned – the beautiful photographs are going to make you hungry!

Recommended with: Mouthwatering Albariño is a wonderful white wine to whet your appetite.


The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, by Benjamin Wallace

Did you know Thomas Jefferson was an avid wine collector? This book gets to the bottom of one of the most intriguing wine mysteries of all time – a bottle of 1787 Château Lafite that may have belonged to the founding father, and actually fetched over $156,000 at auction. Was it real or was it fake? You’ll just have to read to find out.

Recommended with: You don’t have to spend six figures to drink a tasty wine – try a Bordeaux Supérieur.


Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine, by Maximillian Potter

In 2010, Burgundy’s crown jewel producer, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, was at the center of a blackmail scheme – pay one million Euros, or have their precious vines destroyed. This book examines the motives that were behind this threat, the ensuing criminal investigation, and the final outcome. It’s a great read for those who love wine and suspense.

Recommended with: If you have some Romanée-Conti lying around, go for it, but any red Burgundy will suffice.


Reading Between the Wines, by Terry Theise

Wine importer Terry Theise goes philosophical on one of his favorite subjects – wine. Passion, expertise, and critical thinking all come together in this book, along with fascinating and unique accounts of Terry’s experiences involving wine and the people that produce it. This book goes way beyond taste descriptors, diving deeper into the realm of wine and how it affects our lives.

Recommended with: This book will leave you with a craving for Riesling’s dynamic flavors, so it’s best to have some on hand.


While there are many more books we could recommend, this is a great start for any beginner or connoisseur!