The Mother of all Reference Books on Wine


octw12 The newly released Oxford Companion to Wine, completely revised and updated, has pride of place in my collection of prized wine books. The definitive authority on everything you ever wanted to know about wine, it took the award-winning international wine author and critic, Jancis Robinson, MW, OBE, and co-editor, Julia Harding, MW, two years to complete. With almost a million words, 912 three-column pages and 90 photographs, as well as maps, illustrations and infographics, it is an extraordinary work of reference with a depth and range unmatched elsewhere.

Considering how much the wine world has changed and grown in the nine years since the last edition, the Companion is formidable with 4,000 entries including 300 new ones. More than 60% of the old entries had to be virtually rewritten by the editors and their team of 187 contributors, including 50 new writers who wrote about their regions or specialist subjects. The entries are clear, concise and comprehensive with helpful cross references, which reflects the high quality of the editing of the individual contributions. I can say this with confidence because I was responsible for the note on India.

Listed alphabetically, the topics covered are a treasure trove. I am drawn to the Companion sometimes just to graze in its wealth of offerings. Who knows what treasures or delicious nuggets I may chance upon! In other words, the Companion is a joy to browse as well as a valuable compendium of useful and serious information.


Top: Jancis Robinson speaking to guests at the London launch of the fourth edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine. Below, left: Julia Harding and Jancis Robinson. Right: The handsome 4th edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine, released on September 17, 2015 to international acclaim, contains a million words and weighs 2.75 kg.

RRP: US$165; £40; Amazon: US$42. For further details and to see sample pages, go to www.oxfordcompaniontowine. com. An online version with audio pronunciation guide is expected soon.

Photo Courtesy: Richard Hemming/

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