Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: October 6, 2023

11 Best Wine Books for Beginners in 2023 [Essential Reading]

Need something new to read? I recommend my favorite learning resources, true stories, and cook books all related to wine.

wine books for beginners

A glass of your favorite wine and a good book go hand in hand don't they?

There's something so pleasing about the sound of turning pages and the smell of printed paper. And for those on the move, there's always the Kindle!

I thought I'd do a round-up of my favorite wine books of the last few years.

Educational, inspirational, and just plain fun, you'll find a great mix below!

11. The Oxford Companion to Wine

A modern day wine encyclopedia that's almost overwhelmingly detailed.

First published in 1995 and updated regularly since, this is the ultimate wine resource. It's written by Jancis Robinson, one of the most influential wine critics in the world.

With her British pragmatism she has created this enormous and really engaging 840 page wine encyclopedia. 

It contains more than four thousand items related to wine including technical data, historical anecdotes, maps, list of varieties and all presented in an easily navigated A-Z format.

It's an immensely comprehensive source of detailed information that's enjoyable to read and hugely useful to have in the home when a wine based argument needs settled!

I recommend it for everyone form beginners to veteran wine drinkers. It's an essential wine resource, it really is!

10. Grapes and Wines

Learn all about the precious fruit that makes our beloved wine.

This book features detailed descriptions of more than 300 grape varieties listed in alphabetical order with extended info, extra pages and a selection of recommended wines for the top international grape varieties (such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir etc.)

If you want something on the more approachable and less technical side but that still offers a wide overview on the major grape varieties, their taste and aromas, and how differently they behave depending on country, climate and soil (terroir) then this is a great choice.

9. The World Atlas of Wine

A seriously detailed world wine guide that's full of beautiful maps.

First published way back in 1971 and now in its 8th edition, The World Atlas of Wine is my absolute favorite wine book.

I've always loved maps and atlases and this book caters to that passion whilst at the same time being one of the most authoritative and essential wine books in publication.

It's probably not one for the absolute beginner as it goes into some serious detail and can get quite technical but if you're thirsty for wine knowledge then I guarantee you will love this book!

Related: How about good wine blogs? We've compiled a huge list of the best in the business!

8. Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide from a World-Class Sommelier

Learn all about wine in a visual and easily digestible manner.

Eager to learn about all things wine-related from a professional? This book is written by one of the most famous sommeliers in the world, Aldo Sohm.

It's presented in a really colorful and easily digestible way and teaches about varietal and winemaking regions and also how to taste wine properly.

Tips for improving your palate and building a flavor library are my favorite sections, but it's a darn good red from start to finish.

It's full of infographics and bold visuals which make it very easy to take in. A really well presented and incredibly educational book that goes down like a fine wine!

7. Wine & War: The French, the Nazis & the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

The true tales of heroism and betrayal of French winemakers during WWII.

This is the story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious and daring measures to save Jewish refugees and aid the resistance during the German occupation of France in WWII.

It's also a story of the measures some French winemakers took in order to protect their precious wine from being stolen.

These are true stories from those involved. Both those that sided with the Allies and also from those that collaborated with the German regime.

This is not an educational book about wine and doesn’t have any info about wine production or grapes. However, it's a riveting read that's really engaging for anyone interested in the history of wine or WWII history. I'm a big fan of both so I was incredibly excited to hear about this book. It did not disappoint!

6. The Wine Galaxy: A Stellar Introduction to the Joyful World of Wine

The Wine Galaxy cover

Forgive me a bit of shameless self promotion here! I'd be missing a trick if I didn't include my book in here somewhere. I'm not saying this is the best wine book for beginners but it's a book that I'm very proud of and I believe it's excellent value for money.

The Wine Galaxy explains how to appreciate wine properly and evaluate it like the sommeliers do. Follow the exact steps of the professionals to discern notes and characteristics that define each variety of wine.

The book also contains interesting chapters on the history of wine, the future of wine, and a detailed look at how wine is made. You can read more about the book here and also download a free sample.

5. Wine Girl: A sommelier's tale of making it in the toxic world of fine dining

The engrossing and sometimes shocking memoirs of the US's youngest sommelier.

Another recommendation that's not your quintessential wine knowledge resource but rather a really engaging story about life in the wine business.

It's written by Victoria James, who was the youngest sommelier in the US at just 21 years old. It's her account of working in some of the best Michelin star restaurants and the challenges she faced.

It's a really informative account of what it involves to become a sommelier, combined with a personal journey of a young professional woman in modern day America.

4. Essential Winetasting: The Complete Practical Winetasting Course

A progression through winetasting from techniques to pairings.

Let's face it, the world of wine can be a pretty intimidating place. All this talk of terroir and tannins is enough to make your head spin sometimes!

This book by Michael Schuster helps fill in all the knowledge gaps by teaching you how to taste wine and appreciate all of its little nuances.

It covers wine flight tasting ideas in detail so that you can train your palette to notice small but fundamental differences in flavor and aroma.

It sounds a bit technical but it's written in a really approachable manner that makes learning about wine really fun.

3. Natural Wine for the People

If you're keen on natural wines or just keen to know more then this is the book for you!

Biodynamic and organic wines are taking the world by storm these days.

If you drink natural wines or are just interested in learning more about them then this is the ultimate resource on them. It's an often misunderstood branch of modern winemaking and this book sets the record straight.

What is natural wine and why is it good? Where are the best places to find them? This book has all the answers and more!

It teaches you how to source good wines and how to navigate restaurant lists. It's also got a great resource for importing natural wines.

Related: Don't miss our ultimate guide to wine magazines next!

2. Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine

The ultimate beginner's book on wine. Bright, colorful and very informative.

An awesome introduction to the world of wine that covers all of the bases in an informative and easy to understand way.

It's my favorite beginner's wine book and a great starter point for someone on their fledgling wine adventure!

Which red wine suits your tastes best? Which wine should you pair with salmon?

These are just some of the questions you'll have answered. But it covers all the fundamentals in an absorbing manner.

The wine region section with colorful and detailed maps was my favorite part of the book but the food pairing guide is great too.

1. Wine Bites: Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine

If you're a wine lover and also enjoy spending time in the kitchen then this book is pretty much a guaranteed 'hit'.

It contains over 60 awesome recipes that are designed to pair perfectly with particular wines. There are snacks, cheese plates, platters, and also idea to transform cupboard regulars into enticing hors d'oeuvres!

Everything is illustrated with colorful pictures and detailed instructions. It's perfect for wine tastings, parties, and of course quiet nights in too. It's full of great ideas that I just don't have the imagination (or skill) for!

Are there any indispensable wine books you own that you'd like to share with the community? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

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About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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