Want books with a little substance to take to the beach? Perhaps you’re just getting serious about wine but don’t really know where to start learning more.
Drink This: Wine Made Simple by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl
This author doesn’t just recite information about wine for you to memorise. Instead, she provides a roadmap to teaching yourself about wine by tasting it for yourself. She goes grape by grape suggesting which bottles you should try to really get a sense of each varietal. Want to know Chardonnay? Have a tasting party with the five wines she suggests, consider the questions she asks as you sample, and by the end, you’ll have a pretty good idea how Chardonnay varies across regions and winemaking styles, and most importantly, which you like best. This book is fun and easy to read; a practical guide you can start using right away. Available online, $17.16
Who is it for: Hands-on learners who’d rather sip than study, and want a deeper knowledge of classic wine grapes. Perfect for those not yet ready to invest their time in a hefty tome.
Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer Robinson
This slightly more expansive book is friendly and approachable – Robinson’s goal is to get people comfortable with wine. Her reassuring guidance includes a toolbox of helpful wine terms (along with tasting suggestions to bring these terms to life.) She helps readers learn how to predict if they’ll like an unfamiliar wine based on where it’s grown, suggesting how to anticipate what a wine will taste like before you buy. After the basics, she moves on to suggest good values in various wine regions. As you read, you get the sense that the author is on your side. Available online, $18.45
Who is it for: Those who feel a little overwhelmed looking at restaurant wine lists and browsing the aisles of the wine shop.
Wine All-in-One for Dummies by Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan, and Maryann Egan
This book combines some general introductory material with quite useful, and specific, guides to wine from France, Italy, California, New Zealand, Australia, and several other regions. It helps readers decode wine labels from different areas and what to expect from different indigenous grapes and regional styles. It’s approachable and not overly technical, and includes specific producer recommendations for each region. Though it’s not a beautiful book, it’s an easy-reading reference. Available online, $19.79
Who is it for: Someone who really wants to learn about wine.
WineWise by Steven Kolpan, Brian H. Smith and Michael Weiss
For those focused on enjoying wine with food, this is a great resource. The authors compare different regions that grow the same varietal and let you know what flavours to expect from each – along with advice about which dishes might go best with, say, a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc versus one from New Zealand. They recommend producers in well-known and less-popular regions, and suggest great values you might see on restaurant wine lists or in your local wine shop. In order to find the best pairings, the authors sort food and wine by body and intensity – it’s helpful to think of the spectrum from just-cracked crab to rich sea urchin, or from radishes to heavier chanterelles. There are wine suggestions for cuisines around the world with pairings for foods ranging from Algeria to Jamaica, mu shu pork to moules frites. While it’s not an exhaustive list, this is a great place to turn for pairing inspiration. Available online, $19.77
Who is it for: Those already pretty comfortable with wine lingo who are looking for wines to enjoy with meals and are interested in lesser-known wine regions and budget finds.