I'm a beginner. When I received "Discovering Wine" by Joanna Simon as a gift, I felt intimidated. Would it be stuffy or over my head?
Its strength is in the simple presentation of the facts. The chapters are clearly titled, like "Matching food with wine" and "Ways to store your wine." The writing is clean, though it comes across slightly elitist (ex: choosing 'wend' instead of 'wind,' noting a certain country produces a 'credible' variety of wine). It is balanced by an encyclopedic style, providing insight into the basics of wine appreciation.
Many countries are highlighted for their vineyards and wines. Learn which wines are made where, and how the process is distinguished from country to country.
The pictures are sharp, beautiful and informative. You'll see terraces of Germany, hills of Tuscany, and the mountains of Peru in sheer splendor and relevance.
Especially useful for me was the lexicon of tasting terms, a brief lesson on wine tasting and what to look for, and a discussion (with perfect pictures) on which glasses and decanters to use.
The weakest aspect of the book was the chapter on matching food and wine, but the weakness was not in the content, but in the brevity. Ten pages should have been 20.
I fully recommend "Discovering Wine" by Joanna Simon as a first book.