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Books on Wine Appreciation and Winemaking

Although nothing can replace actually tasting wines in order to figure out what you like, wine books often provide an interesting perspective with recommendations by wine region or by wine type. Other wine books offer more of a perspective on the winemaker's philosophy. Together, they can give you the courage and enough curiosity to try something new. For a first book on simply tasting and enjoying wine, I would highly recommend the The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine (2nd Edition). (All books available from Powell's Bookstore.)


  Wine Appreciation

Featured Books


The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine: New and Improved; John Brecher, Dorothy J. Gaiter
This is one of those wine books that is fun-to-read. It makes the intimidating subject of wine appreciation much less scary. Gaiter and Brecher bring a few decades of wine tasting experience and the perspective of years of happy partnership to the book. This book brings the joy of tasting and exploring wines to the reader. The book offers lots of good, common-sense advice on "simple" tasting procedures, on how to buy wine, on how to taste and enjoy wine, and other topics. It also offers a healthy perspective on wine rituals, skewering some of the more pretentious in the process. One of the things that we enjoyed about this book is that it offers a broad perspective on what to expect with different wine varietals. It covers everything from Barbera (from the Piedmont region of Italy) to Zinfandel, the "native" grape of California. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys wine or would like to enjoy wine. (Buy from Powell's or


Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer's Tour of France by Kermit Lynch
With this semi-travelogue through the many wine-growing regions of France, Lynch presents a very strong case for a natural style of wine-making that is very similar to the perspective of Patrick Matthews as detailed below. As a wine merchant, Lynch has relationships with many more winemakers than any average person and his penchant for wines made with little intervention shines through the writing. (Buy from Powell's or


Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking by Patrick Matthews
This book is not about wine appreciation per se but it does delve deeply into many of the choices that winemakers must make as they decide how 'natural' or how 'interventionist' they want to be. This book is part of an anti-reaction in favor of those who use natural techniques (not necessarily organic but leaning that way) versus the lakes of generic industrial wine that are produced today. The chapter describing the use of reverse osmosis devices to tune wines' alcohol levels and flavoring is chilling. (Buy from Powell's or

Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson
If you just drink the wine, then this is still helpful to give you a sense of the history of your favorite variety. For an amateur vineyard grower, this is a fine background text to help you identify and select grape varieties that you can try. (Buy from Powell's or

Other Highly Regarded Books

Vintage Wine: Fifty Years of Tasting Three Centuries of Wine by Michael Broadbent
Head of Christie's wine department since 1966, the author has tasted almost everything. In this volume, Broadbent offers detailed accounts of wines he's tried, peppered with anecdotes of wine dinners and wealthy oenophiles. Each major wine-producing region, from Bordeaux to California to New Zealand and everywhere in between, has its own chapter. This book just won the James Beard Award for the best book of 2003 in the Wine and Spirits category. (Buy from Powell's or
Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage by Dorothy J. Gaiter, John Brecher Hugh Johnson's Cellar Book by Hugh Johnson The River Cafe Wine Primer by Joseph Delissio
Zin: The History and Mystery of Zinfandel by David Darlington Napa Valley: The Land, the Wine, the People by Charles O'Rear Hugh Johnson's Story of Wine by Hugh Johnson
Bordeaux: People, Power and Politics by Stephen Brook, Gary Latham (Photographer) A Century of Wine by Stephen Brook (Editor) The Far Side of Eden: The Ongoing Saga of Napa Valley by James Conaway


Regional Wine Guides and Tasting Notes

Featured Books


Wine Spectator's California Wine by James Laube
A refreshing perspective to those serious about California wine. It draws on more than 50,000 personal tasting notes and two decades as a wine writer -- most of it as the Napa-based correspondent for the Wine Spectator. California viticulture has seen a lot of changes -- vineyards replanted, wineries sold, CEOs turned vintners asking $100-plus for their first bottlings -- and Laube has tasted pretty much all of it. (Buy from Powell's or


Connoisseurs' Handbook of the Wines of California and the Pacific Northwest by Norman S. Roby, Charles E. Olken.
We live in the Northwest so this is a useful reference as it is the most complete reference we have found of our region. More than 700 wineries and labels are listed (including 100 for the first time). This edition features the latest word on all the wines of Oregon and Washington State. (Buy from Powell's or


Italian Wines 2004: A Guide to the World of Italian Wine for Experts and Wine Lovers by Gambero Rosso
Unlike Parker's 100 point scale, the Gambero Rosso only scores wines with 3, 2, 1 (and zero) glasses. This simple scoring system results in more flexibility for different styles of wines to shine and for enthusiasts to have more fun in choosing their favorites. (Buy from Powell's or


Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Guide 2005 by Oz Clarke
For a small pocket guide to wines, this book is about as comprehensive as they get. Given its size and the number of descriptions, we found this book to be one of the easiest to find the wines that we were looking for. As a bonus, the thumbnail descriptions offered more than a basic sketch of the wines which makes it even more valuable. (Buy from Powell's or

Other Highly Regarded Books

Bordeaux: A Comprehensive Guide to the Wines Produced from 1961 to 1997 by Robert M. Parker, Jr. Wines of the Rhone Valley by Robert M. Parker, Jr. Great Domaines of Burgundy: A Guide to the Finest Wine Producers of the Cote D'or by Remington Norman, Michael Broadbent
Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich, David Lynch Discovering Washington Wines: An Introduction to One of the Most Exciting Premium Wine Regions by Tom Parker Wines of the Pacific Northwest: A Contemporary Guide to the Wines of Washington & Oregon by Lisa Shara Hall
The Wine Regions of Australia: The Complete Guide by John Beeston Australia & New Zealand Wine Companion 2002 by James Halliday Hugh Johnson's Pocket Encyclopedia of Wine 2005 by Hugh Johnson
Wines of California by Stephen Brook The New Spain by John Radford   


Wine-Related History

Featured Books

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis and the Battle For France's Greatest Treasure by Don Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup
This book details the conflict between the Germans and the French for control of wine during World War II. Sources include numerous anecdotes from many winemakers and their families which lends credibility to the narrative. (Buy from Powell's or

Other Highly Regarded Books

The Wine Project: Washington State's Winemaking History by Ronald Irvine Vinum: The Story of Roman Wine by Stuart Fleming Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson by James M. Gabler
1855: A History of the Bordeaux Classification by Dewey Markham Napa Wine: A History from Mission Days to Present by Charles L. Sullivan The Heartbreak Grape: A California Winemaker's Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir by Marq De Villiers
Bottled Poetry: Napa Winemaking from Prohibition to the Modern Era by James T. Lapsley American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine by Paul Lukacs  


Wine Tasting Guides

Featured Books

How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine by Jancis Robinson
(Buy from Powell's or
In fairly simple steps, this book describes exactly how to taste wine starting from how the various equipment our body provides (eyes, nose, tongue) work in order to discern differences in color, aroma, bouquet, taste, and mouth-feel among different wines. With a detailed set of notes describing what is expected to be different between even closely-related wines (cabernet sauvignon is different from cabernet franc, etc.), this is a very useful guide to have on any wine-lover's bookshelf.

The Wine-Tasting Class Notebook: Expertise in 12 Tastings by Judy Ridgway
(Buy from Powell's or




Wine References and Encyclopedias

Featured Books

cover The Oxford Companion to Wine; Jancis Robinson (Editor), et al.
With more than 3,000 entries on every aspect of wine from vine pests to grape varietals, this has something for everyone. It work covers all aspects of wine, traveling back in time to early Greece, then returning to today's wine centers to explore all aspects of wine appreciation. A third of the book is dedicated to specific wines and wine-producing regions. Together with the Sotheby's guide, this is a great reference. (Buy from Powell's or

coverNew Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia; Tom Stevenson. Hardcover
Within the first sixty pages, this weighty tome offers a very good introduction to some differences in wine-making techniques and geography -- followed by pages and pages of thumbnail sketches of thousands of wineries from around the world. This book is arguably a better reference for "old world" wines with extensive coverage of French, Italian, and German wines. Coverage of "new world" wines from the US, Australia, and South America is somewhat skimpy so I would balance this with a book providing better coverage of your area. (Buy from Powell's or

Other Highly Regarded Books

A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present by Charles L. Sullivan, Hugh Johnson


If you want to obtain a deeper appreciation of wine, we sugest two other book pages to check out:

bullet Recommended books on winemaking and grape growing
bullet Wine book recommendations from Decanter Magazine


Return to The Ragen's home page on wines.


For other books on our best books list, follow the links below.

bulletOur Current Book List that we are reading this month.
bulletHistory Books that relate to our family history or that e have enjoyed.
bulletChildren's Books for our boys or their cousins. Click here for the Seattle Children's Theatre booklist.
bulletMountain Climbing and Outdoor Adventures.
bulletOther Books that we are waiting to categorize.


Wine Enthusiast - Ultimate wine accessories site! The Wine Enthusiast is a great source of glassware, serving and preservation systems, in addition to self-contained wine cellars and other wine storage options. If you're not sure what you need, the company offers a list of 'Recommended' items that cover a wide range of needs through their home page.

Wine glasses, decanters and more: Many choices are available including Riedel and Spiegelau crystal stemware and decanters. Plus, there are many products to clean and care for your glassware.   


Serving and preserve your wine, from the most elegant decanters to chillers, coasters, drip savers and more. When we want wine by the glass (when we don't think we'll finish a bottle), we use the WineKeeper which automatically fills the bottle with nitrogen to preserve the wine.
Corkscrews Corkscrews and cork pullers are essential tools. Wine Enthusiast has a wide variety of devices including the traditional Laguiole corkscrew to the smooth Rabbit Corkscrew leverpull types. Storing your wine doesn't have to be difficult. Wine Enthusiast offers everything from free standing wine cellars to wine racks and cooling systems that can be installed in a closet or a corner of the basement.   
Finally, for great deals, don't forget to check out the clearance items and the Wine Cellar Outlet Store areas.


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