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5 Books for a Lifetime of Wine Adventures

The trials and tribulations of the glass, told by a few wine industry greats

Janice Williams By November 5, 2021
photo of book on a bed next to a wine bottle
Photo by Moyo Studio/iStock

All it takes to access some of the wisdom of the wine pros is to open up a book. Industry leaders from across the globe have written books sharing the adventures and hardships, career highs and lows, behind their rise to the top. A number of them detail all the bottles that shaped their path along the way. Here are just a handful of memorable memoirs worth reading written by wine professionals.

5 wine memoirs to read:

book cover for You Had Me a Pét-Nat: A Natural Wine-Soaked Memoir by Rachel Signer

You Had Me at Pét-Nat: A Natural Wine-Soaked Memoir by Rachel Signer (2021)

There are plenty of people in the wine industry that would gladly proclaim that wine changed their lives. Rachel Signer, the founder and publisher of Pipette Magazine and the winemaker behind Lucy M and Persephone, is one. In her charming memoir, Signer shares her wine journey as a champion for the natural wine world, which began many years ago when she sipped her first pétillant naturel. Follow along as she travels through Paris, Italy, Spain, Georgia, and eventually, South Australia, on a voyage to self-discovery, love, and commitment, all while learning and spreading the philosophy behind natural and organic wine.

book cover for Wine Girl: The Trials and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James

Wine Girl: The Trials and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James (2020)

On the one hand, Victoria James’ “Wine Girl” is a thrilling, almost heroic, coming-of-age tale. On the other, it’s a harrowing glimpse into some of the challenges women in the wine and restaurant industry endure regularly. James shares the story of her career as America’s youngest sommelier to ever work at a Michelin-starred restaurant and some of the adversity she faced in dealing with inappropriate dinner guests and badly behaved bosses along the way.

book cover for Steven Spurrier: A Life in Wine

Steven Spurrier: A Life in Wine (2020)

Take a look into the life of a wine legend in this memoir written by the late Steven Spurrier, which has since been republished to include tributes from the likes of wine industry leaders like Oz Clarke, Jancis Robinson MW, Hugh Johnson, and several others. The book tracks much of Spurrier’s life, starting with his grandfather introducing him to wine and his travels and wine discoveries throughout Europe, to his role in the famous Judgement of Paris wine tasting in 1976, among other adventurous moments that undoubtedly shaped the wine industry.

How to Love Wine by Eric Asimov (2014)

As the chief wine critic for The New York Times, Eric Asimov spends much of his life and talent educating people on wine and encouraging them to drink more of it. In his memoir, he gives readers insight on how he came to love and understand grapes, and of course, the bottles he drank that led him to become one of the most respected wine critics to grace the planet — spoiler: Asimov has apparently always had a thing for beverages. He wrote beer reviews for his Long Island high school newspaper long before he landed a role at one of the most prominent newspapers in the world. There’s more to enjoy about “How to Love Wine” than just learning Asimov’s journey, though. In addition to a bit of his personal wine history, he ponders over the industry’s future, analyzes trends, and challenges what’s known about wine culture.

book cover for Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher

Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher (2003)

Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher’s life and love together with wine is the stuff made for romance movies. While there’s no actual Netflix blockbuster depicting their relationship, though it would definitely be something worth watching if there were, fans of The Wall Street Journal columnists and longtime wine journalists can flip through the pages of their joint memoir to get a glimpse of their touching love story. “Love by the Glass” uncovers various aspects of Gaiter and Brecher’s lives, from Gaiter’s upbringing in Tallahassee to Brecher’s childhood in Jacksonville, Florida. Read about the moments and bottles that shaped their lives together, like the day they first met and when they came up with the genius idea that led to their critically acclaimed column.