Every wine drinker needs one (and only one) book like this: A magnificent, encyclopedia-sized tome that tells you everything you can possibly want to know about wine in a single book. Or tries to, anyway.
As such a subject is basically unmasterable, the goal with a mega-book like this is to be as comprehensive as possible while leaving out the obtuse junk that no one cares about.
My current bookshelf pick, Andre Domine’s Wine, does a good job of this, highlighting every region you could care to investigate, mapping them intricately, and highlighting the best producers in each.
Now comes Exploring Wine‘s third edition, from Steven Kolpan, Brian H. Smith, and Michael A. Weiss, in conjunction with the Culinary Institute of America. It’s a 791-page monster, and yet it feels slight. Various regions and wine styles get a mere paragraph or two in Exploring Wine. Even big areas, like the French Languedoc region, get less than two pages total, not much more than California’s Livermore Valley is granted. It’s strange and inconsistent, to say the least.
Exploring Wine doesn’t dwell much on specific wines or producers, aiming instead for more of a global look at the wine trade (even China and India get some ink), how the wine business works, and, for about a third of the book, discussing how wine pairs with food (not surprising considering the CIA’s involvement in the book). Interesting stuff if you’re trying to open a restaurant and train your teenage staff on how to sell wine, I guess, but it’s not right for a consumer. The front of the book is just too vague, and the back end is too industry-specific. Sorry, guys, I’m sticking with Wine for now.
C / $39 / [BUY IT FROM AMAZON]