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Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures
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Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  102 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Wine is some 8,000 years old, but the wines that people buy and drink today are for the most part quite new. Modern wine exists as the product of multiple revolutions scientific, industrial, social, even ideological. Though the same basic chemical substance as its ancient forebear, it is in every other respect very different. Contemporary wines both taste unlike those from ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published December 3rd 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis RobinsonThe Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin WallaceThe Best Man by Kristan HigginsInventing Wine by Paul LukacsEmpire of Vines by Erica Hannickel
Wine books
3rd out of 37 books — 19 voters
Bossypants by Tina FeyThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David MitchellOpen by Andre AgassiThe Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha MukherjeeLast Call by Daniel Okrent
From Fresh Air
78th out of 84 books — 59 voters


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Howard Cincotta
There are certain subjects that I only pretend to really care about (real estate), others that I am content to admire from afar (architecture), and a few that I do care about but never seem to achieve any real liftoff. Wine is one. Well, I still can’t discourse knowledgeably about varietal distinctions, but I know a helluva lot more about the subject after reading Inventing Wine.

The main takeaway from this engaging history is that, for most of human history, human being have drunk sour vinegary
...more
Kevin Kizer
If there’s one thing to take away from this book it is this: Until Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast aids fermentation and bacteria causes spoilage, the vast majority of wine throughout the ages would have tasted god-awful unless it was very, very fresh. Most often this wine would’ve tasted like vinegar, which is the end result of the natural fermentation process for grapes.

So for roughly 7,800 years, people the world over fortified themselves with a liquid that usually tasted downright nasty
...more
Matt Heavner
I'm not enough of a wine snob to fully enjoy this book, but I did still get a lot out of it. I've read similar books on beer and coffee -- I did find it interesting that this is definitely written "from a wine snob's perspective" (it totally makes sense). If you enjoy wine, you'll enjoy this book. It is a really well written book and it is clear that the author has a tremendous depth of knowledge. I don't think it is a "intro to wine" in that I feel the more you already know about wine the more ...more
Jibby
This is a good introductory book on the history of wine, both from a cultural perspective as well an overview of the major developments in the industry. Coming into this book, I was fairly well-versed in modern wine, but knew little about its history. One of the central topics of the book is that wine as we know it today is nothing like the wine of the past and was consumed for different reasons. Commentators today often talk warmly about returning to "traditional" wine, but it is surprising how ...more
andrew said
Lukacs likes to refer to the "Lake of Wine" that Europe experienced in the 19th century- wherein too much wine was produced resulting in an oversupply of cheap vin ordinare- which is an apt analogy for this repetitive wide-but-shallow recanting of the history of wine. If you want to know what wine tasted like prior to the 19th C, it tasted like sour vinegar. There, I just saved you reading the first 2/3rds of the book where he reminds you repeatedly that wine prior to 150 years ago spoiled easil ...more
John
This is an excellent history of wine, since its earliest, around 8-10,000 years ago in the Trans-Caucasus. The main take-aways are that until recently, wine was an awful, astringent necessity because water was polluted everywhere in Europe. The other is that the "heritage" aspect of wine, especially for fine wine in France, is an invention. (Where did all those endless Chateaux come from anyway?). Beyond that, it is a very-well researched work from a fairly objective standpoint. Unlike some read ...more
Tonari
I agree with the author's thesis (wine as we know it is a modern invention, very different from what people drank 1000 years ago or before), but the book can be very slow at times, with lots of repetitions and some part that could have been probably cut off without many problems.
I recommend it anyway, just have some patience.
Heidi
A very interesting perspective on the history of wine and its current state. I do wish the author had a slightly less University Professor writing style.
Christina Boyle
Basically the punchline of the book is that humans like to party, dating back to antiquity. If something is rotting or oozing and even tastes disgusting, humans will still put it in their mouth if the hooch packs a punch.

The author is a wine judge and provides a truly interesting overview of wine history through medieval times (ha ha ha). And then the book becomes ambitious and tries to cover a whole mess of other topics but it is more survey-like. It was a fascinating read!
Vicki Araujo
The author did his research very well, this is a very thorough history of wine. It went into too much detail for my tastes and the author seemed to repeat certain topics over and over again. It was very interesting but I did end up skimming over certain parts. It is definitely worth reading if you are interested in the history of wine but his editors should have helped him to cut back the lengthy by about 1/4 and it would have been a better read.
Molly
As a working wine professional, I was pretty sure I would love this book. I still think there is probably some valuable and interesting information in there, but I couldn't find it amongst all the repetition. The first chapter could easily have been boiled down to about 5 pages, instead of nearly 40, if all the redundancy had been deleted. I'll read about the history of wine elsewhere.
Marya Dumont
Not only was this book readable, it was informative: I deepened my knowledge of wine's history, and more importantly came to understand some of the global trends which have effected winemaking in the past couple of decades. It gives a balanced overview of many regions, putting them all in context. Highly recommended!
Phil
I'd read the Author's American Spirits, and was looking forward to his latest. American Spirits was 5 stars, this only three. Not that his writing is any the lesser, but I just wasn't interested in the early history of wine, which takes up half the book.
Mendocino County Library
It's been fun reading about the early practices of wine drinking and how people added wine to water to prevent sickness, which means everyone was inebriated throughout early history. Ukiah Librarian Choice.
Mackenzie
While I found the subject matter quite interesting, I thought the author relied too heavily on repetition in order to make a point.
Tara
This book is very dry. And not in a good way. I think I've learned that I like reading anecdotes about wine, not entire histories.
Phil
Very thorough; extensively covers wine thru the ages. Everything you'd like to know, and more. May follow this us with Summer in a Glass.
Liz
Really an interesting book. Feel like I learned a lot in an enjoyable way and think I have some new (to me anyway) wine regions to try.
Pcox
Quick read, some chapters more interesting than others. If it wasn't a new library book I probably wouldn't have kept going.
Miro Nguyen
A very detailed history of wine, too detailed for a common reader
Timothy Childs
first half very interesting, second half plodded
Tyson
Excellent historical introduction to wine.
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Paul Lukacs is the author of American Vintage and The Great Wines of America. A James Beard, Cliquot, and IACP award winner, he has been writing about wine and its cultural contexts for nearly twenty years. He is a professor of English at Loyola University of Maryland, where he directs the University's Center for the Humanities. He lives in Baltimore.
More about Paul Lukacs...
American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine The Great Wines of America: The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages Bridge Hands for the Connoisseur Test Your Play as Declarer Volume 1 Mon Docteur le Vin (My Doctor, Wine)

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