14 top sommeliers share their favourite books about wine

We speak to top sommeliers who recommend brilliant books for beginners and experts alike on wines, vines and good drinking

Words by Louella Berryman

wine books

There’s nothing quite like a good book. A means of blissful escape or education, the best books have the power to teach you something new as well as entertain. The same rules apply to a good wine book too, but with plenty on the market it can be tricky to spot a trusty go-to guide in the pack. If anyone knows a good wine book, though, it’s a sommelier – they’ve studied their craft closely, after all. So, we’ve asked a talented group of sommeliers and experts to recommend their favourite books about wine.

We consulted a selection of top sommeliers from brilliant restaurants and a smattering of expert judges from the IWSC, and asked each to name one unmissable wine book. Below, there are recommendations for budding young sommeliers and dedicated wine lovers, as well as those looking for a deeper dive into specific regions and grape varieties. Read on for ultimate wine book inspiration.

Wine book recommendations from top sommeliers

Best White Wine on Earth by Stuart Pigott

Best White Wine on Earth by Stuart Pigott

Recommended by Rudina Arapi, head sommelier at Galvin at Windows:

‘I love this book as it’s about one of my greatest loves, Riesling. The vibrant guide reveals the top Riesling-producing areas of the world and their wonderful history, alongside tasting notes, so readers have all the knowledge they need to choose the best Riesling on the shelf.’

Beyond Flavour by Nick Jackson MW

Beyond Flavour by Nick Jackson MW

Recommended by Melania Battiston, head sommelier at Medlar:

‘Brilliant for blind tasting tips. The advice given in this book is concise, vivid and really helps train your tastebuds.’

Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine by Mark Oldman

Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine by Mark Oldman

Recommended by Immacolata Cannavo, head sommelier at Oblix and IWSC judge:

‘This easy read gives a great, humorous introduction to the world of wine, explaining the grape varieties, appellations, different style of wines and food and wine pairings. It’s the perfect read for the amateur who wants to learn about wine without having to read something too technical.’

Les Ignorants, translated as The Initiates, by Étienne Davodeau

Les Ignorants, translated as The Initiates, by Étienne Davodeau

Recommended by Nicolas Clerc MS, buyer at Armit Wines and IWSC judge:

‘A comic book about the meeting between Étienne Davodeau, a graphic novelist, and Richard Leroy, a famous winemaker in the Loire Valley. The pair discover all about each other’s professions and develop a strong friendship throughout the course of the book.’

The Wines of Greece by Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

The Wines of Greece by Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

Recommended by Georgios Iordanidis, head of wine at Annabels and IWSC judge:

‘Obviously, as a Greek, I couldn’t be happier to recommend this amazing two-part book that takes you deep into the Greek wine world. It’s a refreshing read that offers more than the cursory two pages on Greek wine that most wine books include.’

The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

Recommended by Svetoslav Manolev MS, fine wine manager at Berkmann Wine Cellars and IWSC judge:

‘This book has been invaluable to me in my studies both for the Master Sommelier and WSET Diplomas, and I still use it today as a quick reference.’

Tasting Victory by Gerard Basset

Recommended by Tanguy Martin, sommelier and IWSC judge:

‘This inspirational book about Gerard Basset’s career and the different challenges he faced is a must-read for wine lovers and budding young sommeliers. His wife Nina actually finished the book, as Gerard sadly passed away before he completed it.’

Sommeliers Atlas of Taste by Rajit Paar and Jordan MacKay

Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste by Rajat Paar and Jordan MacKay

Recommended by Kelvin McCabe, sommelier at Hackney Coterie:

‘This book gives a fresh look at how classic wine regions have changed over time, from one of the world’s best sommeliers. I’d recommend pouring out a great glass of Burgundy with this read, or even a California Pinot.’

hugh johnson

Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion (6th edition)

Recommended by Danny Murray, head of wine and beverage at A.Wong:

‘This was my first ever wine book and something that I return to time and time again for reference, a refresher, or just enjoyment. I really enjoy Hugh Johnson’s style of writing. I think he manages to capture a bit of romance and mystery where other authors tend to focus purely on the technical aspects which, to be honest, can be a bit dry.’

The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud

The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud

Sokol Ndreko, head sommelier at Lux Lucis:

‘This book is a timeless classic. One of the greatest oenologists of his time, Emile Peynaud, tries to decipher the deep secrets in the wine glass and reveal them for the reader.’

The Dirty Guide to Wine: Following Flavour from Ground to Glass by Alice Feiring

Recommended by Lupo Thoenes, head sommelier at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught:

‘I love how this book focuses on the importance of soil in winemaking. It’s so helpful to understand why you can find specific characteristics in wines that grow in places so far away from each other.’

The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce by Paul Torday

The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce by Paul Torday

Recommended by Bradley Tomlinson, head sommelier at Leroy:

‘A solid and at times silly read about one of the world’s finest winos.’

The Wine of Burgundy by Clive Coates MW

The Wines of Burgundy by Clive Coates MW

Recommended by Francesca Turra, head sommelier at Rosewood London:

‘This magnificent book is a full immersion into the technical explanations of vine growing and vinification, along with producer profiles. I recommend it for wine amateurs, or anyone wanting to fall in love with this beautiful region.’

Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine by Justin Hammack and Madeline Puckette

Eric Zwiebel MS, head sommelier at Summer Lodge Hotel and IWSC judge:

‘This book is great to start your wine journey with. It’s approachable and goes through all the essentials giving details on tasting, vinification, viticulture, regions, grapes and producers.’