I find myself reading more lately, so I thought it was a good time to catch up on some books to review and suggest to our readers.
We’re going to start by going way back.
In Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine, journalist Kevin Begos chronicles his first taste of a red wine from his hotel mini-bar in Jordan made by the Cremisan Winery and Monastery. The wine and winery were both unfamiliar to him [and definitely to me and I expect probably to you too]. That bottle set him off on a multi-year, multi-country quest to learn about the grape varieties that went into the truly old-world wines, many of which are not known of at all in the United States, such as Jandali, Hamdani and Baladi. Tracing the history and combining that quest with a healthy dose of wine science results in a fascinating story that left me wanting to learn more. Told in an engaging and witty style, Begos is definitely someone I’d like to share a bottle of something obscure and interesting with.
Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine
By Kevin Begos
Jumping forward (a lot) is Crush: The Triumph of California Wine by John Briscoe. This book traces the history of wine in California from the 1700s, with the theme of the crises over which the California wine industry has triumphed. While Prohibition might be the first thing to come to mind, the author also discusses the San Francisco earthquake, world wars and phylloxera, as well as economics and politics, as impediments over which the California wine industry has been ultimately triumphant. Briscoe, who lives in San Francisco, is himself a poet, lawyer and author of other published books as well as being co-owner of the fifth oldest restaurant in the United States – Sam’s Grill.
Crush: The Triumph of California Wine
By John Briscoe
About the only thing not covered in great depth about California wine in Crush is the story of wine in our own Los Angeles area. Thomas Pinney nicely fills that gap with The City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles. I first became familiar with Mr. Pinney’s work when I read his exhaustive two volume A History of Wine in America (which I highly recommend). This book enables Pinney to provide a much more micro analysis of how much wine dominated our local area and environs. Of course, I had known for some time that the wine industry in L.A. today is a mere shadow of what it used to be, but I had not realized to what extent this was true. The list of street name origins alone is enough to drive this point home. Alas, those are mostly about all we have left of that legacy. Many factors contributed to the demise of the Los Angeles wine story – prohibition, rising real estate values, population changes, Pierce’s disease are just some of them.
The City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles
By Thomas Pinney
The last part of City of Vines touches a little on the resurgence of winemaking in LA County, with mentions of Rosenthal and Moraga along with Reyes up here in the Santa Clarita Valley. But followers of Eve’s Wine 101 know there is a lot more than that going on. In the SCV alone we have Pulchella, Hoi Polloi, Pagter Brothers, to name just some of them. Farther northeast is Golden Star and down in Los Angeles are Byron Blatty as well as Angeleno in downtown L.A., among others. While these developments were probably not considered significant enough at the time to be included in the book, there is actually even more going on, which I will tell you about soon.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 30 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also President of MCP Financial, which provides outsourced controller services. Michael can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.