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New Year's Resolution: Learn About Wine

Wine is a rediscovered health food with many fascinating stories to tell.
Wine is a rediscovered health food with many fascinating stories to tell.

Wine is a health tonic that brings immediate and long lasting benefits when drank in moderation. Tasting wine brings instant gratification. However, learning about wine fosters long term enjoyment. And is likely to ignite a passion. For the more one learns about wine, the more one is compelled to learn more.

Where does one start?  The most important way to learn about wine is to taste it.

With so many varietals and styles, countries and areas within them producing wines…

Again, where does one start?

And how does one develop a perspective for comparison?

A way to get an excellent base of knowledge is to buy and use the 25th edition of the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (Sterling Publishing, $27.95). This will get you far along on your wine adventure. The author, Kevin Zraly, has been teaching about wine since 1976. Originally the cellar master in the Windows on the World restaurant in One World Trade Center, Manhattan, Kevin Zraly is now considered one of the best wine educators in the world. More than 2.5 million copies of this book have been sold since the first edition in 1985.

The first chapter, “Prelude to Wine,” covers wine basics such as how wine is made, the color of wine, its smell, words used to describe wine, the taste, and more. As in all the chapters, the text is organized in a question and answer format. Often the questions are exactly what you have always wondered.

The main chapters in Windows on the World Complete Wine Course discuss the major varietals and wine producing regions of the world. From the white wine producing regions such as France, California, the Pacific Northwest, New York, and Germany, to the red grape producing areas Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Australia, Chile, and new and emerging wine production areas. There is also a chapter focusing on Champagne, Sherry, and Port.

The overall book and each chapter offers a structured broad overview of wine, how and who makes it. And the text offers excellent, helpful in-depth information on:

  • suggested vintages
  • favorite producers
  • varietal and area characteristics
  • labels of wine or winemakers representative of an area
  • comments from vintners
  • new trends
  • regional history
  • detailed maps 
  • wine maker suggested food and wine pairings for regions

The last chapters cover the physiology of tasting, matching food and wine, wine buying strategies, and frequently asked wine questions.

This book is a bargain compared to attending Zraly’s class in person. Windows on the World Wine School Weekly Course in Manhattan is $995 for eight weeks of a one night per week class.

As a basis for learning about wine, from beginner to expert, this is an excellent book to have on hand. For self guided wine experimenting, to developing group wine tastings, or just as a ready reference, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course can expertly assist on your adventure in wine.

Pick it up at your local bookstore, or online, and get started. I guarantee you will be glad you did.


  • Kevin Zraly 5 years ago

    Thanks for your nice comments about my 25th Anniversary Edition! Kevin

  • Natalie MacLean 5 years ago

    Great column Tracey! Please e-mail me via my site when you have a moment.


    Nat Decants Wine Online