The Golden Age of Wine Writing

By Posted on Aug 29 2011 | By

Snagging Venerable Wine Books with a Keystroke

You’ve gotta love the internet. Its scope is ginormous. Consider that even back in 2009 there were:

  • 90 trillion emails sent.
  • 234 million websites in existence.
  • 1.73 billion users worldwide
  • 126 million blogs.

If you can’t find it on the internet, it’s likely not worth knowing or possessing. One of the more useful actions this writer uses the net for is to purchase used books.

Yep, it’s a clash of the old and new.  Forget Kindle. Reading hard copy tomes is in this writers’ blood.  And wine books are the near the top of his favored subjects, with over fifty titles in the man’s library.

Perhaps the easiest channel of purchase is  Type in the name of almost any book and up pops the selection ready for a one-click purchase.  But wait.  Glance down a line or two and you’ll see a used copy that can often be had at a fraction of the new book price.


Let’s briefly review a few of the more interesting volumes on this blogger’s book shelves.  The list is not meant to be comprehensive and other’s favorites may not appear here.  Nonetheless, here is some solid writing on the subject.

  • A Short History of Wine by Rod Phillips; 370 pages.  This well researched volume could be read three times and you’d still be learning about the advancement of wine from earliest civilization to the 21st Century.
  • American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine by Paul Lukacs; 386 pages. From failure to worldwide recognition; just one fascinating story after another about the growth of the US wine industry.
  • Home Winemaking Step by Step by Jon Iverson; 226 pages.  This is this home winemaker’s go to book.  An easy to understand guide packed with all the critical details for producing wine at home.
  • Judgment of Paris: The Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine by George M. Taber; 326 pages.  The movie Bottleshock was based on the events covered here.  Wonderful perspective on the early days of modern California winemaking and the revolution it unleashed.
  • Making Sense of Wine by Matt Kramer; 240 pages.  Wine Spectator’s premier columnist will have you highlighting passage after passage as he educates in his conversational style.
  • Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine by Mark Oldman; 364 pages.  If you fancy yourself becoming a sommelier someday but don’t have the time or money to pursue it, this is a good shortcut.  You’ll return often to this fun and highly informative reference book.
  • Passions:  The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson by James M. Gabler; 318 pages.  And you thought Tom was simply the author of the Declaration of Independence; the man had a serious wine problem in the best sense of the word.
  • The House of Mondavi:  The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty by Julia Flynn Siler; 452 pages. A breathtaking story of the family who put America on the fine wine map.
  • The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. by Elin McCoy; 342 pages.  He created the 100-point wine evaluation scale and changed the way Americans evaluate and purchase wine.
  • The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode; 216 pages.  One of the most informative books on modern winemaking and written in an accessible style.  A tour de force on how grapes become wine.
  • The Wine Trials by Robin Goldstein; 188 pages.  This one may upset the wine snobs but learn how the average Joe lets his palate guide his choices.
  • To Cork or Not to Cork by George M. Taber; 278 pages.  Why are screw caps advancing in popularity?  Learn how New Zealanders and others lost patience with cork producers and led the way in upsetting a 300 year-old tradition.
  • Wine for Dummiesby Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW; 403 pages.  The title may be off-putting but you’d be hard pressed to glean more basic information on the world of wine than this easy to read dissertation.

The world of wine is a subject almost without end.  With each different bottle we open the journey begins anew.  Today, the United States is entering its golden age of the fermented grape.  Increasing your knowledge about this elixir will enhance its enjoyment.

So pull the cork then turn the page.  Hard copy isn’t dead yet.


Published in the 2011 Winter Edition of the Virginia Wine Gazette.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES