Absolute Wine Novice - Any great books to learn the basics?

I think the subject sums it up nicely, really!

I’m a new member of TWS & I’m an absolute novice / newbie when it comes to wine. I’ve recently come into some nice Reidal crystalware (specifically some Pinot Noir glasses) which I’m starting to put through their paces.

I know next to nothing about wine in general - but I do know I enjoy the fruitier reds and floral whites.

Does anyone know of any great literature I can pick up to start learning the ropes? Something that might teach me what to look for in a wine? How to taste them correctly? Etc. “An Idiots Guide To Wines”, so-to-speak.

Looking forward to being part of the community.


I found this one good;


You could also do one of the entry level WSET courses if you wanted to, level 1 or 2.

Good luck, it’s an exciting journey (and a tasty one!)


This book is really modern and well put together. innovative use of graphics:

There a lots of books out there about wine, but the Jancis Robinson / Hugh Johnson’s wine atlas is my most thumbed wine book.


Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book is something that I have found to be indispensable and the latest one is only £4.



£3.88 ex eBay incl. postage


Michael Schuster’s “Essential Winetasting” - well-written, concise and accurate. When I return to most introductory books they now seem wanting, while this one still hits the spot nicely. The excellent tasting exercises played a major part in getting me through WSET 3 without attending a taught course.

I would not recommend “Wine Folly”. It looks superficially attractive, but fails on most other criteria. Even some of the much-vaunted graphics are badly designed - try actually using the food-wine matching ones for example. If you really want something that looks more modern than “Essential Winetasting” - with pretty pictures and infographics etc - go for “Exploring and Tasting Wine” by BBR.

I wouldn’t recommend “The Wine Bible” either. I am sure it was massively influential in its day, but IMO it is flawed. Too much gushing enthusiasm, and not enough attention to detail and accuracy.

Disclaimer: I possess and have read these books, but only older editions of “Essential Winetasting” and “Wine Folly”. I skipped through quite a lot of The Wine Bible, but I think I read enough to give me a good impression.


Hello and welcome, @Schodemeiss! :smiley:

I second @NickFoster’s Wine Folly recommendation, and also wanted to give a quick shout out to our brand new Wine Basics section of the website:

Created by @Rosie, it’s got loads of fab guides and, as you mentioned learning ‘how to taste’ wine there’s a step-by-step guide to that too!

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Clearly Jancis Robertson’s Atlas is brilliant for it graphics and makes you feel you know an area,the details is so good. If you want to know which premiere cru borders which grand cru burgundy vineyards, its indispensable . I feel this slightly comes at the expense of written detail, although JR is brilliant there usually.
Her other books were a good start for me.
You could do worse than subscribing to her website, as her books are on there digitally especially the Oxford Companion. The maps on line are the wine atlas ones. If you paid for 3 months I’m sure you could read the books on your tablet etc.

Robertson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is a brilliant book if you are fed up with wine…


That was funny in a “Taffy” sort of way!! :smile::smile::wink:

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Not sure if I’m losing it a bit. Both you and I have misspelled the name. Is this what is funny or is there another hidden pun?


no, it is a lame attempt at being funny, but definitely not meant to offend


none taken. forums are prone to misunderstandings.


I quite liked it, but I’m not sure if that’s much of an endorsement :wink:


Ive got this one. Well recommended. Written in an easy to understand style. Lots of good info on the different wine regions/grapes of the world.

Top one is wine folly magnum edition. Lots of great, easy to understand info graphics that explain th subject in an easy to understand way. Some handy references in the back of the book where you can find details of vintage quality from different years.

Absolutely agree. I think it has recently been updated and reissued. For me, this is miles ahead of anything else I’ve seen. Perfect for someone new to wine but you have to be a real expert not to pick something new up from it.

Jancis Robinson 24 hour wine expert is a good beginners guide and an easy read.



All this talk of Jancis reminded me that many of her older TV programmes are now on YouTube.

If you fancy a break from your reading you could do worse than watch the episodes of “Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course”.


I still refer to the book from this series.