What is a good (great) book for getting started with wine...
characteristics of grapes, blends, etc....
Some of the first books I started with were those Robert Parker annuals back in 80's. Not sure they are published anymore. Learned a ton from them.... especially about the different wine regions of the world, the varietals planted in each region, and some of the more well-known producers in each area. A good reference, regardless of whether you do or don't like his "ratings".
see below/above for earlier Chow thread, but yeah I'd second the Wine Bible if you want something that will serve as introduction and yet is comprehensive enough that you'll be using it/relying upon it for years as you expand your knowledge base....
there are a lot of recent books that are even more basic intros, but the Bible is the "one" I'd recommend if you were only gonna get one to learn from for 1-5 years....
Sorry to seem obtuse, but WHAT do you WANT to learn?
For example, for a great starter book, try "Great Wines Made Simple" by Andrea Immer Robinson.
To do comparisons between wines, try Kevin Zraly's "Windows on the World Wine Course."
For a more serious reference book, yes, you could get Karen MacNeil's "The Wine Bible," BUT I WOULD NOT . . . a new, revised edition is due out within the year. Wait.
For a GREAT reference book, and very readable (as a reference -- think World Book, as opposed to Encyclopædia Britannica), get a copy of "The Oxford Companion to Wine," by Jancis Robinson.
If you want books which are SPECIFICALLY focused on one country, or on one region, let us know for further recommendations.
Karen MacNeil's new edition of the Wine Bible probably won't hit shelves till late spring, 2016, so buy the current edition now (new or used), and then re-buy it if you wish. I think it's one of the best.
Also of note: Say what you will about the "For Dummies" books, but the Wine for Dummies books are very clear and full of easy-to-understand information.
In the series are Wine for Dummies, and also French Wine for Dummies, Italian Wine for Dummies, and Champagne for Dummies. All are good. Written by wine writer Ed McCarthy along with his wife and Master of Wine, Mary Ewing Mulligan.