a good friend asked my recommendations for good books to help her study the wset level 4 (diploma). here is my list, all links to amazon usa (and rest assured... i will not earn a penny if you buy the books using the links below...):
the oxford companion to wine - jancis robinson
impossible to pass without... since graduating, i have a love-hate relationship with the book... i had it autographed by jancis herself when she last came to hong kong, it is now a museum piece at home...
grapes & wines - oz clarke & margaret rand
comprehensive and really very good to understand each grape varieties. the writing style is a little "chatty" and casual. not sure everyone likes this when studying as there are sometimes more words than necessary. but then again, it might be fun to study this way once in a while...
how to taste - pierre casamayor
my all time favourite "how to taste" wine. definitely the best book on the subject that i have read so far and i credit this book with my passing the tasting part of unit 3 with high marks. it also covers tasting techniques for sparkling wines (unit 4) and fortified wines (unit 6). he is now my mentor and each time i come across one of his books, i buy them. unfortunately for my english friends, the one listed here is his only one in english...
understanding wine technology - david bird
written for the wset diploma in mind. excellent and covers everything needed for the unit 2 exam
viticulture, an introduction - stephen skelton
written by a master of wine. definitely useful for the unit 2 exam
the port companion - godfrey spence
complement the oxford companion of wine and covers all topics for the unit 6.
world wine atlas - hugh johnson & jancis robinson
this book is key to understand the various wine regions of the world. definitely a must to pass the unit 3 theory exam. It contains all that one needs to know about a region: description of terroir, examples of key wineries, notes on wine style, and other information key to a complete answer so dear to the wset examiners.
world encyclopedia of champagne & sparkling wine - tom stevenson & essi vellan
i have not used it for my unit 4 exam and i now regret it. very informative and contains all that is necessary about sparkling wines of the world.
a key to unit 1 and unit 3 exam. covers wine regions but also current affairs issues and, although i am not aware of insider information here, i am quite sure the persons who design unit 3 questions choose topics in that publications.
wine by style - fiona beckett
excellent book to understand wines by style. she simplifies wines in different categories so that not only they can be understood in the way they can match with food, but also in the way they are made and what can be expected as a result. it helped me to tidy-up my wine notes.
oz clarke new wine atlas - oz clarke
excellent complement to johnson and robinson wine atlas. better maps and clearer information on each terroirs. although a bit "chatty" and that can be distracting.
wine grape varietal table - steve delong
a truly excellent map of grape varieties giving you the big picture of wine grape varietes and how they related to one another. they are organized in terms of acidity and body and gives the user a clear understanding of their specific style. i am the distributor in hong kong and macau for those interested...
drinks- vincent gasnier
i found this reference books to be very useful when it came to practice tasting by myself and to understand the differences between various wines of the same style but from different regions of the world. for example, he organises a tasting of pinot gris/grigio wines and describe some from italy, from australia, and from alsace and clearly indicate what we should be expecting. useful tutor by reading i found.
whiskey: the definitive world guide - michael jackson
very very good book on all things whiskey. not only tasting notes from various regions of the world but also a definitive guide on how they are made and factors that affect style and quality.
the art and science of wine - james halliday & hugh johnson
excellent book that links wine making techniques to resulting wine styles. also covers terroir and viticulture and discusses how factors of nature can also affect wine style and quality. i enjoyed that book tremendously.
le nez du vin - jean lenoir
a very very useful and informative way to learn about aromas. the master kit includes 54 small bottles with aromatic oil together with a corresponding cards with explanation of the aromas, its origin and in which wines we can expect it. beware, the oils can damage your sense of smell if they are used too extensively (as i did...).