I am often asked how I learned so much about wine. I most often answer “By drinking it”. Which for the most part is true. If you want to learn anything you have to go out there and experience it.
The second piece of advise I live by is to search out the best in your field of interest and study them. If you can’t speak with them directly then at least read everything they may have published or what may have been written about them.
Which brings me to A Life Uncorked by Hugh Johnson. I have read many books on wine, four of which were written by Hugh Johnson, but my favourite and the one I learned most from is A Life Uncorked.
Hugh Johnson shares his knowledge of wine, its regions, grapes and culture as he recounts entertaining tales from his life as a wine professional. His prose is is such that it almost transports you to his side, sipping a glass of Montrachet while he regales you with his wit, knowledge and charm, thus allowing for excellent retention. It is for this reason that I recommend this book so highly to new would be sommeliers and enthusiasts.
For the service professional I also suggest carrying around Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. There is a new release every year.This tiny book is an incredible tool for quick references about wines, regions and grapes. I cannot recount all the times I was able to make the sale sounding both knowledgable and experienced with only his brief notes from this book.