PLEASE NOTE: As of 9th September 2021, unfortunately, I no longer have any stock of my book. Mitchell Beazley, in their wisdom, have decided not to reprint, and reassigned me the rights. I’ll see what I can do with them.


Meanwhile, if you buy 2nd hand, I urge you to buy the new 2017 edition – pale blue cover, see right > – it was substantially revised and added to, for a very different wine world, seventeen years on from the first edition!


THE NEW EDITION is now available. I hope you will buy directly from me. It is easy here, and I will of course dedicate books as you like. If you want to order multiple copies, with different dedication requests, it  remains easiest to buy them, and send them, individually. But if you have any particular queries, then do get in touch via the Contact page.



This new edition has been enlarged (32 new / 20% more pages, and over 80 new images), and much has changed. It has been redesigned, and updated throughout, with the central section on Grapes and Their Wines having been substantially rewritten and now, sensibly, in alphabetical order.

Completely new are a number of Essays, many on issues pertinent now in a way they were not 20 years ago: Climate Change, Organics, Biodynamics, Natural Winemaking, Closures, Alcohol levels; plus Wine Gadgets, Scores, Carbon Dioxide, Aromas as Complexity, and Comparative Tasting Technique.  And there is a sizeable new section on Blind Tasting.

The DIY Tastings section has been made more complete, with the addition of preparatory reading suggestions from the book, plus subsequent check-and-reinforce questions; and  there is a new, higher level, final tasting on Quality Calibration.

Essential Winetasting Book - The Complete Practical Winetasting Course

Essential Winetasting is based on my teaching and my courses.The first edition (Mitchell Beazley 2000) won all three major British wine book awards for the Best Drink Book 2000: The Andre Simon, Glenfiddich and the Prix du Champagne Lanson awards – the only occasion on which one book has won all three. It is a unique combination of Teach Yourself Tasting Manual, and Wine Reference Book. It has sections on Tasting (of course!), Wine Language and Values, Viticulture, Winemaking, Grapes and their Wines, Wine and Food, Wine Maps, and a substantial, carefully designed DIY Tasting Course.  The book also has a cross reference section on most of the spreads, taking you to other sections of the book for further information / clarification on particular subjects, thus making it a powerful learning tool.

What others have said


“This is all done in great detail, step by step, with exquisite clarity, and – I don’t quite know how else to put it – grace. … Schuster has that teacher’s gift of knowing what to focus on and when. … he blows away the fog of mystery and superiority, and with his simple, but not simplistic, explanations, makes winetasting a democracy.
Whether you know just a little, or even quite a lot about wine, this is the book which every single WSET diploma student, Court of Master Sommeliers student, and MW student should have.”
Tamlyn Currin:

“Having just finished your (new) book, for the 2nd time this year, I wanted to write and tell you how brilliant it is. It is, quite simply, the very best book I have ever read on wine tasting, by a million miles.
Your command of the subject is beyond compare,km y our explanations so clear and beautifully written, your arguments well-reasoned and convincing … I’ve learned new things, refreshed my memory on others, seen a new perspective sometimes, and I just loved turning the pages. … So thank you Michael for all your work to put this together.”
James Cluer MW – an ex student of mine, now running a substantial, and very successful, Wine School in the USA:

“… a perfect primer for anyone new to wine, it also contains much of value to those of us who have been chasing Bacchus around the bushes for years.
Schuster writes about wine with great deftness, restraint and elegance, … he’s accustomed to calm analysis, proceeding from closely observed fundamentals, and he’s unhysterical about labels, reputations, trends and fashions.
He’s added to one of my favourite aspects of the first edition – short, succinct essays on aesthetic and technical topics, including climate change, wine values, closures, alcohol levels, scores, terroir, wine faults and ‘wine nonsense’. From these you can tell he’s a wise owl.
I gave the book to a friend who enjoys wine but has never ‘learned’ about it and he was impressed: ‘It’s a great book for constantly dipping into. I like his pitch: a true expert who doesn’t believe in mystification and bullshit. … His science  is good, he doesn’t make a big deal about winemakers, he’s got clear explanations. It’s the kind of book you can come back to over many years as your experience expands.’
Andrew Jefford: Decanter


 “A brilliant book by a brilliant teacher.”
Steven Spurrier, Decanter

“The most effective winetasting manual ever written”
Bill Nesto MW, Beverage Business USA

“Schuster is the perfect wine connoisseur: open-minded, cultured, thoughtful, receptive and calmly articulate. Use his book as a DIY wine course, a work of reference, or simply as stimulating, intelligent wine entertainment. His wine descriptions are succinct and accurate, and his understanding of the aesthetics of appreciation a model of unfussy sanity.”
Andrew Jefford, London Evening Standard

“A new wine primer that raises the bar …. A beautifully designed and intelligently organised wine primer: every design element makes sense …. seldom expressed with such clarity.”
Stephen Meuse, The Boston Globe

“Explains the mechanics of taste and tasting better than any book I’ve seen. It is one of those rare books that serves beginners and experts alike – I can’t think of a better guide.”
Richard Ehrlich, The Independent on Sunday

“Schuster has taken considerable pains to present his ideas in a way which is really useful. Aimed as an introductory guide, but even seasoned professionals may find a great deal of stimulating information in it.”
Jasper Morris MW, The Vine

“Quite brilliant in the clarity with which it unravels some complex and nuanced aspects of wine through text and illustration.”
Tom Cannavan,


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