I never would have thought I’d be recommending a book about wine with the phrase “complete idiot” in the title, but for outright rank beginners, this tome by Tara Q. Thomas is an accessible way to get a bearing on a complicated subject.
Primarily broken down by grape varietal (with a few chapters devoted to certain wine regions), the book is 368 pages of easy-reading, breezy coverage of the basics of the grape. Favorite feature: Simple line drawings that outline the grape-growing regions of virtually every major country where wine is made. Unless you need a map of, say, South Africa’s wine regions, you should be able to get your bearings from Wine Basics.
As this is indeed a book of “basics” you’ll find only minimal discussion of actual producers and essentially no discussion of vintages, as Thomas sticks to the high points of, say, what Chardonnay tastes like or how Sauvignon Blanc varies from old world to new. There are no obvious gaps in coverage, but the index certainly needs work. I’d expect any wine novice to search for, say, “Sancerre” in the index (where it isn’t listed) instead of knowing to find it discussed, almost in passing, in the chapter on Sauvignon Blanc.
At a paltry $12.89, consider this a fine little stocking stuffer for the wine novice in the family, and one which will set you back less than even a cheap bottle of Chardonnay.
B / $13