From the encyclopedic to the personal, five books to help you uncork the mysteries of wine.



The Accidental Connoisseur

By Lawrence Osborne


"Nothing requires more taste than wine," says Osborne. It is the genius of his "irreverent journey" through the world of vines and vintages to take taste itself as his muse and to chase it -- "as solid as a soap bubble" -- through Italy, France, and California in this singular, shrewd, very funny book.




Judgment of Paris

By George M. Taber


For most of the history of winemaking in America, California wines were considered mere bumptious colonial cousins of their sophisticated European counterparts. But in 1976, when several Californian wines shockingly triumphed over the finest French vintages in a blind tasting, a new era in viticulture was born.  George M. Taber, the only journalist present at the momentous event, turns the story of the upset, and its consequences, into a tale to be savored.



Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

By Kevin Zraly


Frank Prial of The New York Times got it just right when he said, "If you have never bought a wine book before, start with this one." From grape varietals to bottle labels, vineyards to store shelves, Zraly's easygoing authority will help you master the fundamentals and have tasty fun while you're learning.



Inspiring Thirst

By Kermit Lynch


Since the early 1970s, when he opened his now famous Berkeley shop, wine merchant and importer Kermit Lynch has been waxing eloquent, erudite, and cantankerous in his monthly store brochure. This selection from his legendary communiqués is the most delicious browsing book a wine lover can discover.



The Billionaire's Vinegar 

By Benjamin Wallace


When a scion of the Forbes family paid a record $156,000 for a single bottle of wine at auction in 1985, he thought he was getting a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeauxone that had been owned by Thomas Jefferson. The truth proved far murkier. Delving into the controversy provides author Benjamin Wallace ample opportunity to explore the fervor at the heart of wine collecting.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.