So much has been written about wine in the Napa Valley that it’s hard to figure out where to start. If this will be your first wine tour, you should begin by picking up a copy of Wine Spectator, a magazine whose wine ratings have long been the industry standard. You can also read their descriptions online, so you can get a feel for some of the language used to describe the wines you'll be tasting. The web site can answer such burning questions as “What does calling a wine ‘racy’ really mean?”

If you have time to read a longer book, make it From the Grape to the Glass (in Plain English) , by Helene LeBlanc. In addition to a very straightforward explanation of the wine making process, LeBlanc’s book contains a pronunciation guide that will help you pass as a regular connoisseur. (This will also be useful when ordering wines in restaurants, etc.) It’s a quick, enjoyable read, but if you are looking for something even quicker, take a look at The Grapes Grow Sweet , by Llynne Tuft and Tessa Decarlo. It's a children’s book that actually does a pretty good job of explaining grape harvesting – the color illustrations are a plus.