I’m not sure whether I own more bottles of wine or books. I’ve never counted the books, and the number of bottles is too embarrassing for me to state publicly, but I’d imagine that they’re about the same. The largest section of my library is, unsurprisingly, books on wine. Some focus on specific regions, others on the more philosophical side of booze, and some take on the herculean task of summing up the entire wine world into a single book. If you’re as interested in building out your library as much as you are in filling your cellar, these are some of my favorite books on wine.
“The Wine Bible” by Karen MacNeil
Is there a single wine book that I’ve gone back to over and over again more than this one? Probably not. From the history of Napa Valley to the details of Slovenian wine classification, its 900+ pages are full of the details and nuances that make loving and drinking wine a lifelong pursuit. For most people I know who love wine, this book served as a road map to obsession.
“Wine Folly” by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
There are several editions of this book available, but whichever you get, you’ll find the perfect-for-beginners charts and infographics that have made this a go-to for novice wine drinkers around the world. It was the first wine book I ever purchased, and it seems like every year I still give it to someone new.
“The New York Times Book of Wine” edited by Howard G. Goldberg
As much as I love learning the finer details of wine’s technical points, it’s the why of wine that (sometimes literally) keeps me up at night. What does wine say about us as a society? What can we learn about someone by looking at the wines they drink or make? These are the kinds of questions asked in this collection of 30 years’ worth of writing in The New York Times. Out of all of my wine books, this one just might be my favorite.
“The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste” by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay
Sure, you can study the 1er Cru vineyards of Chablis, but what do the differences in the Vaillons, Montmains, and Fourchaume vineyards actually taste like? Enter winemaker Rajat Parr and wine writer Jordan Mackay to answer that exact question. They break Europe’s most important wine regions down — glass by glass — and take a deep dive into the details of terroir.
“Cork Dork” by Bianca Bosker
A professional journalist quits her day job to study wine full time and goes on to become a New York sommelier. It sounds like the premise of an early 2000s rom-com, but it’s actually the true story of Bianca Bosker. This book ruffled a few feathers when it was published in 2017 for its no-holds-barred looked at the inner workings of the wine world, but its salacious side is part of the charm.
You can take a deeper look into my library and my cellar on Instagram at @sethebarlow and, as always, you can email me at email@example.com.