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The Wine Bible Paperback – February 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though it drinks deep of its subject, Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible deftly avoids two traps many wine books fall into: talking down to wine novices or talking up to more experienced enophiles. The book avoids these traps through MacNeil's obvious, and infectious, love of her subject, which comes out in almost every sentence of the book, and which lets her talk about wine in a way that combines the good teacher, the trusted friend, and the expert sommelier. As director of the wine program at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California, MacNeil is one of the world's true experts on wine. After reading a chapter on the Burgenland, for example, you've learned about the region's sweet wines while feeling like you're actually there, toasting a glass of Cuvee Suss with the author. It is this passion that leads to describing an Italian riservas as "mesmerizing" and a Cabernet Sauvignon as having "texture like cashmere."

The Wine Bible is broken into countries, hitting all of the major wine producers and most of the minor ones. Each section gives detailed descriptions of the country's wines (with chapters on individual regions when necessary), highlighting specific wine producers and individual wines, as well as talking about local foods, customs, and other tidbits that add to the reading experience. MacNeil begins her journey through the world's wine with an invaluable section on "Mastering Wine," which lets a reader get ready before uncorking separate sections. --A.J. Rathbun


"A dazzling, comprehensive, modern guide to wine, free of elitism and pedantry. This thoroughly successful work sets a new standard and makes wine more accessible and user-friendly than it has ever been before."
—Anthony Dias Blue, wine and spirits editor, Bon Appétit

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 910 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; First Edition edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563054345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563054341
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For the last 30 years, Karen has been a writer, consultant, and educator whose articles on wine and food have been published in more than 50 United States magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, and Town & Country. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Wine Bible, a best-selling wine book in the United States that has sold more than 450,000 copies since it was released. Ten years in the making, The Wine Bible has been called the most comprehensive and authoritative book on wine written by an American author.
Karen is the host of Emmy-award winning Wine, Food & Friends with Karen MacNeil, the first television series on wine in the United States. This thirteen-part series reached a national audience on PBS. In 2006 her companion book, Wine, Food & Friends, was released.
An educator at heart, Karen is the creator and Chairman of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley. The multi-million dollar wine center has been called the 'Harvard of wine education.' In 2007, she launched the Napa Valley Wine Educators Academy, a global education initiative that attracts wine instructors from all over the world to the Napa Valley for a week of intensive study. She acts as the Academy's creator and director.
Karen conducts wine seminars nationwide for individuals and corporations including Oracle, American Express, Lexus, Merrill Lynch, General Electric, Time Inc., NBC, Viking, and J.P. Morgan. She is also a wine consultant for Singapore Airlines and Sunset Magazine.
In March 2008, Karen launched her website on erobertparker.com, where she provides online wine education, food and wine pairing strategies, and video interviews and tastings with the icons of the wine industry.
In 2004, Karen MacNeil received the highest honor awarded to a wine professional in the United States when the James Beard Foundation named her Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year. The following year, she was named 2005 Wine Educator of the Year by the European Wine Council. Past recipients of the Council's awards have included journalist Morley Safer (60 Minutes), filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, and winemaker Robert Mondavi. In 2007, Karen was honored with the Wine Literary Award by the Wine Appreciation Guild for her substantial contribution to the literature of wine, joining laureates such as Hugh Johnson, Robert M. Parker, Jr., and Jancis Robinson. The International Wine & Spirit Competition recognized Karen as 'the voice that has most effectively communicated wine or spirits to the public in the past year' by awarding her The 2008 Vinitaly Trophy for Communicator of the Year. In a profile featured in Time Magazine in 2004, Karen was named America's "Missionary of the Vine." She holds an Advanced Certified Wine Professional Degree.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

260 of 274 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on June 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
The spine on my worn copy of the Wine Bible is cracked and its pages are dog-eared, even though I think the book has several notable shortcomings. As I write this, I find myself in the unusual position of criticizing the thick volume even though I turn to it for information on a regular basis.
My biggest complaint is that I feel the book doesn't really know what it wants to be. On the one hand, it is a comprehensive reference book that in many areas goes into more depth than other general wine books. But it falls short as a reference book because it lacks the scope of books like The World Atlas of Wine or The Global Encyclopedia of Wine, which cover more up-and-coming wine producing countries, more specific producers and, especially in the case of The World Atlas of Wine, are enhanced by beautiful photographs and maps. Though the Wine Bible is substantial (it weighs in at a hefty 910 pages) its design is more compact than the other books I mentioned, and so might make a better travel companion for someone visiting multiple wine producing regions in a single trip. But the lack of good maps makes a supplemental book necessary.
Additionally, the book can feel like a disjointed collection of articles that ought to have been better integrated before publication. Often, the same information (referring to multiple or confusing names for grape varieties or regions, or quality standards in specific countries) is referred to parenthetically several times, often in quick succession -- something unnecessary, especially given the book's excellent glossary.
But despite these criticisms, I find myself referring to the book repeatedly.
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108 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Tarik J. Ghbeish on September 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
A great book for a beginner. This book doesn't rate wines, it teaches you about how they are made, what flavors each grape is known for, what regions grow each type of grape and so on. Immensely useful information. I have used this as
* a learning tool,
* a reference when I'm curious about a wine I've found
* to settle arguments with family over wine labeling
* a reference to decide which wines may be worth trying from a specific region.
As a reference, the book is not encyclopedic, but it doesn't attempt to be either. The book is a bible in the sense that it gives you a good solid overview of a wine region, it's styles of wines, and some of it's representative producers if you want to start trying out the regions wines.
It is quick to point out that the ultimate judge of a wine is the drinker, and you shouldn't be shy to decide you do or don't like a wine despite it's reputation. I like that and believe it is a good approach.
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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barrett TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
This was a great book...6 years ago. While that might not seem a long time, remember that insane changes have occured lately: the restructuring of many Italian DOCs, promotion of massive numbers of Spanish DOs, new AVAs in California and Oregon, Canada establishing itself as a wine powerhouse for more than dessert wines, not to mention the stylistic change of Bordeaux after the 2000 vintage.

I have also found several errors based on outdated (1997-1999) information. Though this is of little concern to novices, experts and those in the wine industry cannot rely on this information. Also, this needs to come in a hardcover form (for this many pages).

Pros: value, basic knowledge good
Cons: poorly laid out, outdated info, not durable, lacks advanced info

I know Karen MacNiel can do better, she is one of the most knowledgeable wine experts I have ever met.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Randy Given on December 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
I think "The Wine Bible" (TWB) should be the third book purchase for wine beginners (after "Wine for Dummies" and "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course"). TWB is full of good information. Of course, the first section is a must-read. Then, the sections are split into separate geographical areas and are very good and very detailed, while still being easy to read (the author's "education" background is readily apparent and helpful to the reader). I especially liked the depth of information that is presented in a friendly manner. For example, I wanted more in-depth information on Valpolicella. Most books given only a paragraph to it, if they give anything at all. Over several sections, this book probably had close to three pages (a lot of text on each page) which is about ten times the information of the competition. And no, this book is not lopsided in favor of information on Italy. That is just one example of why this book gets five stars. There are many other cases of information that other books do not contain or they gloss over. This book has a lot to offer.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L Edelen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Utterly fascinating and comprehensive, The Wine Bible is just the right length to provide even the most discriminating oenophile with all the facts needed to quench his thirst. It is difficult to imagine a better overview of all the wine areas of the world. Certainly there are more scholarly tomes, but MacNeil's ebullient and zestful writing style is utterly charming and never wearying, her descriptions of specific wines so lively you can almost taste them. I wanted to rush out and buy all her recommendations.
The layout of the book starts with the basics of how wine is made, what factors make great wine, how to taste, the major grapes and their characters, and other fundamentals. It then proceeds into an extensive look at the countries that produce wine. Each country section breaks down the major wine producing areas within the country, going into great detail to highlight the unique qualities of those areas that bring their wine to life. The country sections also include travel notes, comments about the local food, wineries to visit, and more. At the end of each growing area section, MacNeil includes specific wines of note.
This format makes the subject quite approachable, but also leads to the only complaint I have (and it is not enough to take away anything from the book.) Because of the length (900+ pages), the book is written sectionally. Given the scope, MacNeil wrote it in a manner than lends each section to being self-contained. Because of this, when reading several country sections, MacNeil repeats herself many times, often explaining a concept in a later chapter that she had explained earlier. This is done for clarity sake, especially if the book is being used as a reference.
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