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The Oxford Companion to Wine Hardcover – December 23, 1999

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The first edition garnered a number of awards and uniformly positive reviews [RBB D 1 94]. The second edition maintains that high quality, with 500 new entries as well as a considerable number of revised entries covering all aspects of the history, science, geography, and culture of wine. This is an excellent accompaniment to The Oxford Companion to Food, which we reviewed in our January 1 & 15, 2000, issue.


"This is an invaluable resource for serious wine drinkers who never quench their thirst for learning about varietals, appellations, wine history, and vineyards."--Business Week

"The greatest wine book ever published.... A worthy purchase even for those who already own its predecessor."--Michael Franz, The Washington Post

"An encyclopedic reference.... If it's not here, it has nothing to do with wine."--Wine and Spirits

"A wine lover's best friend."--La Cucina Italiana

"The preeminent basic resource for wine lovers.... It is hard to believe that editor Jancis Robinson could improve upon a work whose first edition was so universally lauded, but indeed she has."--Wine Enthusiast

Reviews of the first edition:

"A required reference for anyone who is serious about wine."--Frank J. Prial, The New York Times

"Jancis Robinson has become the Julia Child of wine."--Newsday

"One of the definitive reference books on the subject."--Anthony Dias Blue

"Easily the most complete compendium of wine knowledge assembled in modern times.... Essential to even the smallest library of wine books."--The New York Times

"This may be the most important book on wine to appear in the past 20 years....The very existence of this book stands as evidence of the significance of wine in our culture.... This volume will enhance the usefulness of every other wine book by providing authoritative explanations of the nuts and bolts that others treat only in passing."--The Washington Post


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (December 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019866236X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198662365
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some reference books sit on the shelf, forgotten, hoping to be used someday in the future when someone has a desperate need to know how to calculate the third log value of an arctangent.
This book is as far removed from that fate as a Petrus is from a White Zinfandel!
At least once a week I have opened up this gorgeous wine tome and looked up the answer to a question, or read more about a particular wine I was enjoying. With over 3,000 entries to choose from, you can explore the ancient roots of wine in Iraq and Egypt, or learn about new vine-growing techniques winemakers are using in Washington State. The information is clearly written, well illustrated, and not overly technical.
Jancis Robinson, the editor of the tome, is well known in the industry for her knowledge and fluency in wines of all types. Combine her amazing knowledge with fantastic photographs of each wine region, and even reviews of various personalities in wine, and you have a book that you'll keep on the coffee table and actually read often! Be warned - you can lose guests in its pages for hours.
The book is great for a beginner. Confused about Beaujolais Nouveau? Want to know how a White Zinfandel differs from a Red Zinfandel? The Oxford Companion to Wine has clear, concise descriptions of all wine types, explaining their histories, their characteristics, and where they're found now.
The Companion is also a boon for experienced drinkers. It goes into the fine details of how wines are grown, and how various winemakers use different techniques to bring out the best in their particular grapes. There are maps of wine regions, and insights into what makes certain wines unique.
Great as a gift for your favorite wine drinker, but buy one for yourself, too!
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Frederic Woodbridge on December 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The sheer breadth of what this astounding book offers is almost too good to be true. I just started out learning about wine and I wish this had been the first book I cracked open. Jancis Robinson shows her immense talent as an editor and should be commended. If you're learning about wine, this is the book to get. If you already know about wine, get it anyway. You won't reget the purchase.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Peter Meyaart on July 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a wine industry professional and card-carrying wine geek I can say that this is the single best wine reference book out there. If you're a beginner look elsewhere, but if you're someone who needs to know the grape parentage of Huxelrebe or the history of Chateauneuf du Pape then this is the book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tracy E. Wallace on March 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I use the Oxford Companion constantly! Wine terms and references can be a bit confusing at times and that's where this book comes in. This book is organized in alphabetical order so if you see a wine related term or word that needs some splain' just refer to The Oxford Companion to Wine.

I don't recommend this book for the wine novice because it can be intimidating. It is essentially an encylopedia/dictionary and over 2000 pages and as heavy as a half a sack of bricks. I think that if you gave this book to a beginner it would be overwhelming and might dampen their interest and we don't want that to happen. I use this book as companion to the wine text book I am using at the moment. I sit down and read my assigned text and then follow up by refering to the Oxford Companion. I can't tell you how many times the light bulb has gone off after reading the Companion.

The book reveals info on grape types. winemaking techniques and terms, wine regions, vine training methods, oak barrels, wine pioneers,wine producers, maps,photos and illustrations. Even though it is jammed packed with wine info I don't find it to be stuffy. I find that Ms.Robinson's (editor) personality comes through.

Over the years I have purchased a second copy because I take pages out of one so that I can carry a few pages with me on topics that I know I will encounter during the day (I work in the wine industry). Yes there is also the abridged version of the Oxford Companion but I prefer the original.

While this is not a cover to cover read (which I have attempted)I think you will find it to be a welcome edition to your wine library and an excellent reference tool.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Thirty years ago this book could not have been written. With the increasing ascendancy of the New World wine makers and in particular the influence of the Davis campus of the University of California, viticulture and oenology are now rigorous, scientific and commercially oriented professions. This is reflected in the "Oxford Companion to Wine" which has to be the most comprehensive, authoritative and accessible resource dealing with all aspects of the world of wine.
Jancis Robinson who edited this encyclopedia of wine is a highly respected wine writer and educator. She is also very well credentialled, holding the prestigious title of "Master of Wine".
The real power of this book as an information source is the very effective use of cross-references. Its great fun to see how far one reference will take you on subjects of particular interest to the reader. It would be good to see this book published as a CD-ROM. Hyper-linking all the cross-references would make it even more powerful.
The changes in the wine business over the past generation have seen the previously exclusive, "clubbiness", almost snobby world of fine wine appreciation opened up to everyone. It is books like this that have provided the sources of knowledge which give people the confidence and curiosity to pursue their interest and enjoyment of wine.
France is the traditional home of fine wine. The French approach to wine making is still dominated by practices and methodologies that go back centuries. It is interesting to see in the "Oxford Companion" the strong contrast between the empirically rigorous New World (particularly USA and Australian) methods and the mystery (or mystique) that even today, shrouds much of the French industry.
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