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249 of 262 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Your second wine book
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...
Published on June 28, 2003 by Eric J. Lyman

versus
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be updated badly!!!
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...
Published on November 24, 2007 by Christopher Barrett


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249 of 262 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Your second wine book, June 28, 2003
By 
Eric J. Lyman (Roma, Lazio Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wine Bible (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. Part of the reason for that is author Karen MacNeil's pleasing and unpretentious writing style, which somehow manages to please wine lovers of many different levels of knowledge. Ms. MacNeil's passion for wine comes through in the text and her knowledge of the subject is extremely impressive, with her descriptions often compensating for a lack of quality photos. And though I would like to see more wine producing areas covered by the book, the regions she does address are covered extremely comprehensively. The quality of information is also very even: before travels to these areas I have read the book's sections on South Africa, the Mosel, Loire, Ribera del Duero, Languedoc, as well as everything on my adopted home country, and could not detect any ebb in Ms. Mac Neil's enthusiasm or knowledge.
After some thought, I settled on four stars for this review, despite the complaints I have. The book is just too useful and too skillfully written for fewer stars. The next addition, I feel sure, will earn five on my improvised scale.
Once you have moved beyond the most basic level in wine knowledge, this is an important book to have. If you can buy only one book on the subject, this is not the one I would suggest -- The World Atlas of Wine gets my vote for that honor -- but if you were to limit your collection to two books, then I think this is a serious candidate for that second position. Once you've got that much covered, I'd lean toward a book that focuses on your favorite wine producing region or another specific aspect of the subject, like tasting or wine production.
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103 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to wine..., September 4, 2002
This review is from: The Wine Bible (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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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be updated badly!!!, November 24, 2007
This review is from: The Wine Bible (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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Title Is Correct -- The Bible of Wine, December 16, 2002
By 
Randy Given (Manchester, CT USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Wine Bible (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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For all who love wine..., November 7, 2002
This review is from: The Wine Bible (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. For a complete readthrough, though, one can simply skip over what had already been explained previously.
If you have a passing knowledge of wine and wish to go to the next level (or simply need an approachable, yet complete reference), I can think of no better place to start than The Wine Bible. MacNeil's love of wine certainly comes through and makes this reference a gripping read, one of the few references you'll find hard to put down.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wine Bible, March 19, 2002
By 
J. Lindner (MN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Wine Bible (Paperback)
This is a very solid book at least in the opinion of this newcomer to the field of fine wine. There seems to be good coverage for many wine regions around the world, and some good introductory material on the making of wine. The author describes grape types, climate, topography, storage casks, and whatever else may determine the quality and character of wines. The wine industry is not simple, but this book goes to great lengths to make it understandable. Granted it is my first venture into this field, but it appears that this book has something for everyone.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book to start with, February 17, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Wine Bible (Paperback)
So I'm a beer snob, and learning to be a (cheap) wine snob. This book was given me as a gift by my parents, and it is cool.
It won't tell you everything there is to know about wine; that only comes with further reading and lots of tasting. But it's a spectacular foundation to learning the history and traditions involved, and it does a remarkable job of covering its subject without prejudices. The history of recent (i.e. last couple of hundred years) of wine development is the focus -- if you're looking for information on ancient wines you won't find much of it here, but if you want to know how Chile or Australia became the wine-growing powerhouses they are today, this book will tell you everything you might wish to know.
I've no real complaints with the book. There are big holes in its coverage, but wine is a truly gigantic subject and MacNeil has done a great job covering as much ground as she can -- there's great information on most of the major wine-growing countries, starting with France and Italy and going from there. There's even a narrative of sorts, with heroes like Robert Mondavi and the Gallo Brothers who rebuilt the California wine industry with book knowledge when the traditions had been wiped out by Prohibition, and villains like the phylloxera aphid that nearly destroyed the wine industry worldwide before American botanists saved the day by grafting European vines onto American rootstocks. Ancient traditions in France, Germany, and Italy are placed alongside modern innovation in California, Australia, and South America, showing that either way is an effective method for creating a great wine. Champagne is mentioned alongside the humble Spanish cava and party-loving German sekt. And the great old fortified wines -- port, sherry, madeira, marsala -- get their due in detail most people probably never imagined.
It's an excellent book to just open to a random page and flip through. It's informative without being snobbish, and written for both the casual browser and the serious oenophile. Tradition and modern science sit side-by-side, and the reader is bound to find a few little-known future favorites (Argentinian Malbec, in my case, a powerfully flavorful wine that I tried alongside some pot roast) just waiting in the "interesting cheap stuff" bins at the liquor store. Essentially, with this book there's no excuse for buying the cheap stuff in the box, or simply settling for the easy varietals (unless of course that's what you want). If you want to learn about wine and like to read, get this book and the address of a good liquor store.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just enough to have you begging for more, March 31, 2006
This review is from: The Wine Bible (Paperback)
When I was studying for my Sommelier Diploma our assigned texts could be dry and confusing so I always started off by reading the Wine Bible. The Wine Bible gave me just enough information to jog my memory and I felt as though I had a handle on the basics before moving on to the required reading of our text.

The book is organized by major wine growing regions of the world so you learn about the region (ex. Bordeaux,France or Napa,CA) not by grape or wine type. If you are more interested in finding out what types of wines you would enjoy drinking, then I would suggest Oz Clarke's Understanding Wine. From there I would then suggest moving on to Mr. Clarke's Encylopedia of Grapes.

The information given in the Wine Bible is enjoyable,unintimidating,and easy to read and understand. It wets your appetite (pun intended) just enough so that you want to know more about the subject at the end of each chapter. You can use the book as a reference or read from cover to cover. The only complaint I have of the Wine Bible is that it is over 300 pages which makes it difficult to carry in your purse or backpack. Even with the bulkyness this is the one book that I have chosen on several occasions to take with me on week long vacations.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for beginners (and professionals), November 9, 2006
This review is from: The Wine Bible (Paperback)
I believe that this book knows *exactly* what it wants to be. It doesn't try to be as comprehensive as either "The World Atlas of Wine" or "The Oxford Companion to Wine". What this book is trying to do is appeal to everyone, and be considerably more accessible than the books referenced above. I recently gave this as a gift to my father-in-law who was interested in learning about wine. This was the only book I even considered giving to him. It contains enough information to get someone started, and make them thirsty enough to want more. I would probably follow this up with either "How to Taste" by Jancis Robinson (speaking of thirst...).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, useful and amazingly accurate, August 22, 2006
This review is from: The Wine Bible (Paperback)
Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible is so ambitious that it seems almost impossible for it to succeed. This book is first of all an encyclopedia, so it sets out to be comprehensive and it succeeds. Almost every bit of knowledge that isn't about a particular vintage can be found here. Remarkably, for an encyclopedia, many of the entries are quite detailed. I was particularly impressed by the section on Austrian and Italian wines (I've spent a fair amount of time in both countries).

Accuracy? It's a rule that everybody makes mistakes and the more ambitious you are, the more you make. But this rule doesn't seem to apply to MacNeil. Some wine snobs of my acquaintance have combed the book looking for errors (they're easy to find in most wine texts). So far, even this punctilious gang has found nothing wrong.

Another impressive thing about this book is its modesty. The author includes a generous bibliography that takes the reader to more detailed sources when it's necessary.

But the reason that you'll pick this book up time and again is its unfailing good writing and good humor. MacNeil is a pleasure to read and one suspects she'd be a pleasure to share a glass of wine with too.

Potential buyers should be aware that this isn't an atlas-real wine loons should have a seperate one of those anyway. The chapter on winemaking is good reading for a novice but leaves out a lot that a specialist might want to know. You won't make your own wine based on The Wine Bible. It's also not a coffee-table book. You'll have to look elsewhere for more pictures of gorgeous vineyards at sunset. But for the single, indispensible wine reference at a great price, you can't beat it.

Lynn Hoffman author of The New Short Course in Wine
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The Wine Bible
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil (Paperback - February 1, 2000)
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