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Learning about wine usually involves some form of reading. But who says it has to be boring? Forget the old-school textbooks and yawn-inducing essays, and instead check out these seven wine books for personal anecdotes, educational information and easy-to-understand illustrations all wrapped into one. Leveling up your wine knowledge through literature has never been more fun.
Alice Feiring (Ten Speed Press, $19)
No other category in the wine world has skyrocketed to fame as quickly as that of natural wine. But what exactly is it? Alice Feiring, a longstanding pioneer of this minimalist style of winemaking, breaks down the ins and outs of natural wine in this illustrated and informative guide. She touches on the basics of organic and biodynamic farming, as well as the use of a “less is more” mentality in the cellar while simultaneously breaking down the confusion around the category as a whole. Feiring is a James Beard Award-winning author, and this accessible easy-to-digest guide is a perfect example of her straightforward yet informative style of writing. Feiring even includes a list of retail shops and restaurants she deems unmissable for diving deeper into this style of wine.
Jon Bonné (Ten Speed Press, $15)
When it comes to finding the joy in drinking wine, Jon Bonné just gets it. In “The New Wine Rules,” Bonné encourages readers to forget the complicated jargon thrust upon them by sommeliers and experts and simply view wine for what it is: a beautiful and enjoyable beverage best consumed without rules. Offering guidance on deciphering labels, finding the right bottle for your taste preferences and knowing when to splurge and when to save, Bonné artfully directs readers to take a less serious approach to wine while providing useful bits of educational information along the way.
Neal Rosenthal (North Point Press, $17)
For an insider’s look at the world of wine importation, distribution and more, check out this memoir by long-standing New York wine merchant Neal Rosenthal. He first began working with family-owned vineyards in France and Italy in the 1970s and has since created one of the most sought-after portfolios in the world. A bona fide expert on Old World wine, Rosenthal describes the concept of terroir through the small families, quirky characters and unique vineyard sites with which he works and offers a one-of-a-kind perspective into the wine world’s evolution over the last four decades, as well as personal anecdotes from visits with the industry’s biggest names.
Jancis Robinson (Abrams, $13)
Learning from one of the wine world’s most respected critics, authors and tasters all in a day’s worth of reading? You bet. In “The 24-Hour Wine Expert,” Jancis Robinson tackles how to choose the right bottle, break down wine labels and decipher the world’s best food and wine pairing tricks. The prose is written in her signature witty-yet-authoritative tone and is perfect for those looking to tackle the basics in a short period of time.
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Jane Lopes (Hardie Grant, $30)
This educational yet personal collection of tales recounts one sommelier’s journey of learning about wine and life through 100 bottles of wine, with a few spirits and beers smattered into the mix. In addition to providing education on styles, grapes and regions, Jane Lopes shares insights into specific bottles that fundamentally built her career, helped her understand wine and, above all, discover the joy in the process. For a part-memoir, part-educational tool, this thought-provoking compilation of stories is just the ticket.
Victoria James (Ecco, $27)
Written by New York sommelier Victoria James, this memoir tells the story of a young woman’s journey through the male-dominated world of wine in one of the industry’s most important markets. Through a series of trials, tribulations and triumphs, James illustrates the fortitude and determination it takes to succeed in the world of wine, particularly as a woman under the age of 30. James’ graphic depictions of childhood memories, gasp-inducing restaurant scenarios and overall life-changing circumstances will keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is perfect for those looking for a wine-focused page-turner full of unexpected twists.
Aldo Sohm (Clarkson Potter, $33)
Written by the wine director of chef Eric Ripert’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Bernardin, Aldo Sohm brings a casual and digestible approach to learning the basics about wine. "Wine Simple” uses illustrations and infographics to bring Sohm’s wealth of knowledge to life, making this the perfect tool for visual learners of all levels. Sohm begins with wine fundamentals focused on regions, how to taste and hosting at-home wine tastings, then gradually dives into more in-depth categories such as vintage specifics, flavor identifiers and how to detect flaws in wine. "Wine Simple" beautifully encourages confidence and curiosity in everyday drinkers in a well-executed and approachable format.