Whew. Now that I got yesterday's rant off my chest as well as caught a baseball game, watched Anthony Bourdain, and got a good night sleep, I feel much better.
I often get asked what books I recommend for learning about wine. First of all, the best way to learn wine is to buy a couple of bottles, open them, drink them with a couple of friends, and talk about them. However, many people want more detailed, nerdy type information (don't sweat it...I'm right there with you.) In that case, I would suggest getting on Amazon and ordering the following:
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (by Kevin Zraly)-
If you are just learning wine, this is the most complete 101 style book I have seen. I have also had the opportunity to take Zraly's course, and he is one of the most passionate people I have ever met wthen it comes to wine. Plus, he's wicked smart.
Wine for Dummies-
Seriously. I pick my copy up at least once every week or two.
Wine Lover's Companion-
This is more of a dictionary style book that gives quick little explanation of wine terms. This is the book that I probably reference the most.
The Wine Bible-
This is also a dictionary-style book, with more lengthy explanations. I use mine a lot, too.
Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia-
I stole mine from my dad, and might not give it back. This really gets into some detail, but it is fantastic. This is also a large, expensive book- I suggest either stealing one from my dad, or finding a used one online.
World Atlas of Wine-
This book is incredibly helpful if you are trying to learn about the different wine areas of the world. It is by Hugh Johnson, one of the big names in wine books and wine knowledge.
Oxford Companion to Wine-
This is the book that I studied the most when getting ready for my CSW, and my Certified Sommelier tests. The articles are lengthy, but information packed. Jancis Robinson is the author, and again truly a Mensa-level IQ about all things wine-related.
That should keep you busy for a little while. One other recommendation that I have is NOT to buy all those "2009 (fill in the blank)'s Guide to Buying Wine". The books are seldom up to date, are heavily biased, and you can get all that information for free online.
Today's wine recommendation comes from Germany. Go out and find the 2007 Von Hovel Balduin Riesling. It should cost you less than $18 at a store. Think fresh green apples, with a touch of slate. It is low alcohol (only about 8%), and in theory, one could finish a bottle with their neighbor in less than an hour...or so I've heard...not that I would have personal experience with this or anything!
The winery has a cool history too. It was built in the 12th century by monks. The Von Kunow family, whom is in their 6th generation of owning and running the winery, bought it from Napolean in 1806.