Uncorking a good book about wine

Many wine lovers are concerned about what globalization and the glut of inexpensive wine at stores such as Trader Joe’s will do to the future of the wine business. Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists is a book that may allay some of their fears. Written by Mike Veseth who is a Professor of International Political Economy, a wine economist, and international wine scholar, the book attempts to put the present and future wine world in perspective in an engaging, entertaining and educational manner.

Here are some interesting facts that Veseth shares with his readers.

Great Britain imports the largest percentage of wine, 17% of all world wide wine imports, compared to the United States’s 10% imports. Much of this is attributed to the fact that the Brits are long time wine drinkers but have only a few wineries in their own homeland.

Gallo founded their California winery in 1933 just as prohibition ended.

Costco is the single biggest wine merchant in the United States.

The most influential locations in the wine business, long considered to be centered in Europe, may be moving to the far East to places such as Singapore and China.

Kami no Shizuku (Drops of God), a popular Japanese graphic novel became a 9-part T.V. miniseries and may eventually have a larger effect on the wine industry than the 2004 movie, Sideways, about the California wine country which helped bring about an unprecedented increase in the sale of Pinot Noir wine.

This thought provoking book is filled with information about the  wine business as well as the history of wine making. There are answers to such questions as whether plastic closures will replace corks or will the ‘bladder’ or ‘wine in the box’ become permanent substitutes for the iconic glass wine bottle. Will  honeybees (with their highly evolved sense of smell) become the future wine detectives as they may identify and help to eliminate bad and inauthentic wines?

Veseth also discusses the forces that have been opposing the international wine markets, namely the terroirists. Terroir is derived from the French word for soil and the terroirists (not to be confused with terrorists) are those individuals who are extremely passionate about their agricultural ‘sense of place’ and their belief that grape and other agricultural crops are influenced ultimately by the climate, soil type and topography of the local land. Terroirists are convinced this makes it virtually impossible to grow certain grapes and produce superior wine in locations not favored by the same terroir. This is at the root of their very vocal opposition to the globalization of the wine industry. They believe that wine should be continued to be made in the same locations and with the same methods that have stood the test of time over the centuries.

There is much to learn from this book and for further research, consider viewing Jonathan Nossiter’s 2004 documentary Mondovino which visually explores the concept of terroir and how globalization has endangered this centuries old concept.

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