Wine Guy: Educational wine books


Investing in texts pays off in the glass

Tourists are leaving, Del Mar racing season is waning and the sun is shining more than at any other time of the year. It must be back-to-school days.

So, with academia descending upon our children, why not join in and learn a little more about an adult subject?

Wine may be more diverse and complex than any other beverage, but it can be made easy to understand with a minimal amount of study. An infinite number of books have been written on the subject, with a few major standouts rising above the rest.

A glass of wine is always more interesting with a story or some understanding behind it. By using these books, anyone can learn more about wine and therefore make every glass taste just a little bit better.

“The Wine Bible,” by Karen MacNeil, Workman Publishing

This friendly read offers personal insight into all things wine, written by a woman who is a self-made superstar in this arena. In fact, in 2004, MacNeil was named “Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year” by The James Beard Foundation and later was awarded “2005 Wine Educator of the Year” by the European Wine Council.

More about education than reference, “The Wine Bible” acts as the reader’s personal travel guide through the world of wine. From vine to wine and food pairings, with historical and regional vignettes, it covers every meaningful wine subject.

The book is pleasantly approachable for all levels of wine enthusiasts. As such, it has become the default textbook for The Culinary Institute of America’s Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies in the Napa Valley, one of the finest wine education institutions in the world.

“The Oxford Companion to Wine,” edited by Jancis Robinson, Oxford University Press

Simply put, “The Oxford Companion to Wine” is the quintessential wine reference book. It is a commanding presence in an encyclopedia format offering more in-depth wine information than any other publication, period.

All wine professionals worth their weight in Riesling own this book. For everyone else, it has more than 3,000 easy-to-navigate, straightforward entries to learn from.

Now on its third edition, “The Oxford Companion to Wine” is a publication to be consulted throughout a lifetime in wine.

“Wine Style: Using Your Senses to Explore and Enjoy Wine,” by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Wiley, John & Sons Inc. Publishing

Wine Style proposes the reader not look at wine by varietal or region, but instead by style. By doing so, the authors have simplified wine into four categories for red wines, four for whites and two each for rose and sparklers. Compare just these few categories against the massive wall of wine at your local retailer, and one can easily see the merits of this approach.

Being able to clearly describe a preferred style of wine to a retailer empowers the consumer to buy a bottle that will not only be enjoyed, but also provide a platform for discovering unknown wines that display similar characteristics. This book does exactly that, in its own easy-to-understand style.

On top of these, local wine professional John Alonge, who was named “Best Wine Coach” by San Diego Magazine, has also written an educational book on wine. Titled “The Wine Heretic’s Bible: Plain English Advice for the Casual Wino,” it is meant for the casual wine lover who enjoys wine but doesn’t obsess about it.