Read Between the Wines: Book Recommendations to Spread Liquid Joy this Holiday Season

As a librarian who used to bar tend in Boston’s fine dining bar scene, I always am on the hunt for the next interesting read on all things wine. Here are a few of my favorite wine related reads on all matters red, white, and bubbly – and everything in between!

Make sure to join us next week on Tuesday, December 10th at 7 PM in the Watertown Savings Bank Room for our program Grape Expectations: Wine Tips + Holiday Tricks from a Wine Industry Professional. Local restaurant owner Jen Ziskin will walk through everything wine from A to Zinfandel. Cheers!

My Favorite Picks for Educational Materials:

These books I recommend for those wanting to learn more about the nuts and bolts of wine. All provide great overviews of wine regions, many overviews of different grape varietals, tips for pairing and serving, and splendid charts and maps.

Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack | This delightful introduction to wine, written by the award winning authors of, gives a whimsical overview of the world of wine that is both visually arresting and simple, simple, simple. Employing brightly colored infographics, Wine Folly provides detailed profiles of both popular and under the radar wines, basic maps, methods for tasting and serving wine, and a good guide to wine and food pairing. A great place to start if you like charts and visuals, Wine Folly is as fun as it is informative.


World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson | First appearing in 1971 and now in its 8th edition, the World Atlas of Wine has been hailed as the “single most important reference book on the shelf of any wine student.” Though large and rather scholarly, if one is simply looking for stunning maps, this is the book to browse! The World Atlas of Wine boasts over 50 detailed and beautiful maps of wine regions around the world that are fascinating to peruse – good for both coffee tables and more studious endeavors alike.

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil | Perpetually called “the guide with all the answers,” The Wine Bible is full of wine history and “reads” better than most other wine reference books. The entertaining MacNeil spends a lot of time talking about the history behind wine houses, regions, and traditions, which makes this book good for wine and history lovers. Though sparse in maps, The Wine Bible is easily readable and has a comprehensive index.

Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region by Peter Liem | This exquisite book celebrating the production, life, and consumption of champagne was the winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award in History and Scholarship. The book comes with pullout tray which includes seven vintage vineyard maps, that are fascinating to spread out and peruse. The book itself has extensive grower and vintner profiles, but also basic information as to how to store, open, serve, and collect classic bubbly.  A must see for anybody looking to imbue their lives with a little bit of champagne joy.


My Favorite Picks for Wine Related Diversions:

These non-fiction book selections all tell tales related to wine, in one way or another. Spanning from history to photography to philosophy, these picks can be consumed alongside your favorite glass of choice by the fire this winter season!

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker | Bianca Bosker, formerly a tech and architecture writer, turns her attentions to wine in this witty and educational true story. After stumbling into the world of wine and fine dining in New York City, Bosker decides to try and become a Certified Sommelier in one calendar year. During her time to try and become a “cork dork,” Bosker visits large automated wineries, goes to wine conferences, and rubs noses with the most experienced sommeliers in the country. Does Bosker complete her goal going from zero to hero in the world of wine? Read to find out!


The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace | This New York Times Best Seller tells the tale of the 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux that sold for $156,000 at auction in 1985 – a bottle that supposedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson. But did it? Did the bottle come from a Nazi bunker or Parisian tomb? Was the bottle actually the work of an expert con artist? Wallace unravels the infamous bottle’s story from cellar to auction, with a lively cast of eccentric and captivating individuals on the way – a real life Clue mystery, about wine!

Around the World in 80 Wines: Exploring Wine One Country at a Time by Mike Veseth | A geographical whirlwind inspired by Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Wines surveys both the world’s most celebrated and world’s most obscure wines in the most fascinating of places.


Vineyards, photographs by Fred Lyon | Fred Lyon is a renowned photographer whose work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Legion of Honor Museum, among others. In  his collection of photos Vineyards, the San Francisco native and vineyard owner turns his lens to the vines that produce the world’s great wines. From the breathtaking hills of Napa and Sonoma, to the French chateaux and verdant Chilean slopes, Lyon’s eye for catching both grand and intimate moments alike surrounding vineyard life is breathtaking. Perfect for photography buffs and armchair travelers, and a worthy addition to any coffee table collection.

– Emily, WFPL Reference Librarian

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