Variously regarded as a sacred, religious drink, inebriant, and even the work of the Devil, wine has always been much more than a commodity. From its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to its present incarnation as a vast, multinational business, wine has consistently generated passions that verge on mania.In A Short History of Wine, Rod Phillips sets out to tell the story of wine in the Western world with all its grandeurs and miseries. Packed with fascinating stories, unexpected insights, and the myriad tricks of the trade, A Short History of Wine is an essential book for anyone who treats wine with the zeal it deserves. Phillips re-creates each of the great eras of wine production, from the prehistoric fruits of the Fertile Crescent to this decade's explosion of the consumer wine culture with its varied values and palates, and vividly conveys the sheer magnitude of wine consumption and enjoyment. Among the many engaging themes that Phillips explores is the endless struggle between nature and nurture -- is wine the pure product of the grape, or should it be enhanced by the addition of other substances? He revisits times when wine was a favorite among the American Founding Fathers (Ben Franklin praised it, as a God-given boon), and he sheds light on wine's enemies, both natural and human, recalling dark times when disease struck vineyards, counterfeiting and fraud ran rampant, and anti-alcohol movements peaked.Spanning the globe from Hunter Valley to the Rhine, from Napa Valley to Burgundy (not overlooking Peru and Ohio), A Short History of Wine is an astonishingly enjoyable guide to the social, cultural, and economic worlds inside a bottle.
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Rod Phillips has studied in Canada, New Zealand, and England. He is professor of history at Carlton University, Ottawa, where he teaches courses on the history of alcohol, the family, and French society. He has held fellowships in several countries, and his books have been widely translated.From Publishers Weekly:
The consummate companion to any good glass of wine, this engaging book delves into the robust history of the beverage and investigates its vitality as what Phillips calls "a product, a commodity and an icon." An opening anecdote regarding the cancellation of a recent Iranian state visit to France (the French demanded dinner wine; Muslim law forbids alcohol consumption) perfectly frames both the range of cultural dispositions toward wine and the complex role it has played on the stage of world history. Investigating archeological and botanical evidence, Phillips, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, travels 7,000 years into the past to uncover the historical roots of wine-production and, by detailing the earliest bacchanals and trade routes through which wine entered public life and value systems, he investigates the role of wine as a commodity. In addition to studying the shifting economic and cultural importance of wine throughout history, Phillips also closely analyzes the effects of alcoholism and drink-induced violence. Wine, he poetically suggests, can be both a yield of the gods and the fruit of the devil, a commodity that paradoxically crosses borders while establishing lines between classes, and a product "of society more than of nature." Phillips's work wonderfully reveals all the histories readers might only have guessed at while thumbing through Chaucer, Boccaccio or Rimbaud, and his book provides a comprehensive reading of Western civilization through the bell of a wine glass.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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