For oenophiles, of course, maps of wine regions can be illuminating. "With a map," writes the author, "[wine] names are no longer isolated but part of a picture, [and] distinctions and relationships become clearer …" But maps aside, it is quite possible to be drawn to The World Atlas of Wine simply by the sheer authority with which Johnson writes. Here is a man with a thorough command of both his palate and his native tongue. His explanatory texts, which frame the maps, are brief, stylish, and packed with information. His almost offhanded assessments of wines are fresh and terse (Romanian reds, he writes, are "clean, distinct and not at all overweight"), and his geographical descriptions are deftly evocative ("The Pouilly-Fuisse district is a sudden tempest of wave-shaped limestone hills"). In this context, the maps become almost accidental—certificates of authenticity, lending heft and import to the surrounding words.