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Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink Paperback – November 10, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (November 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520267885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520267886
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this economic history of vino, writer, teacher and blogger Colman explains how the wines we drink-that is to say, the bottles that wind up on the shelves and on our tables-are shaped by politics: "not only which grapes grow where, what can be written on the label, which wines are exported or imported, which wines are available in local stores, and how much a wine costs, but, perhaps most importantly... affects the quality of the wine in the bottle." Colman focuses on two of the biggest producer nations in the world, France and the United States, comparing the hold each has had on the industry. In France, vines grew abundantly and consumption became a national tradition, but Americans have been trying to grow wine grapes for at least 400 years-and have really been successful only in the past 40. The author also examines the significance of terroir, wine critics and distribution networks, the alcohol laws of different states (some dating back to Prohibition) and other factors complicating the relationship between those who make wine and those who want to drink it. By exploring these and other crucial concerns, Colman provides an enlightening volume on a complex topic.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“An enlightening volume on a complex topic.”
(Publishers Weekly 2008-07-14)

“Contain(s) so much history, data and anecdotes in a highly readable 144 pages.”
(John Mariani Bloomberg News 2008-07-28)

“It is the kind of book a wine economist would want to read and gift as a gift to friends. ”
(Journal Of Wine Economics 2009-01-27)

“Exposes a little-known but influential aspect of the wine business: the politics behind it.”
(Times Higher Ed Sup (Thes) 2008-07-17)

“A fascinating and fast-paced ride. . . . His accomplishment is remarkable.”
(Gastronomica: Journal Of Food & Culture 2009-10-01)

‘A delight to read with its clear prose and fluid style.”
(Good Wine Under $20 2008-10-28)

“I'm not aware of any other single volume that pulls so many strands of research and analysis together in such a readable package.’
(Vinography 2009-04-06)

“Succinct and up-to-date. . . . Recommended.”
(Philip Whalen, Coastal Carolina University Jrnl Of World History 2012-09-01)

Serious and provocative
(Chicago Tribune 2008-12-10)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Wine Politics is a book that tells us how wine is made.
Paulo Prado
Doing so in HIS opening line is a wonderful, slightly funny, insider homage to Dickens and other writers.
J. Lefevere
This book is a great read and definitely recommended to any Wine aficionados.
Aditya Gupta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By T. Wark on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I finally had a chance to give serious face time to Tyler (Dr. Vino) Colman's newest book: WINE POLITICS: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink. A book of this sort is so long overdue and I had been looking forward to it with such great anticipation that I nearly wet my pants when it finally arrived at my door.

I cracked it open somewhere over Nevada on my way to the National Conference of State Legislatures where a panel of industry folks moderated by Senator Sanchez from New Mexico was gong to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court decision, Granholm v. Heald. Apropos, no?

Here's the thing: If you write about wine and don't know the political history of the drink, you owe it to yourself and your readers to read this. If you are a lawmaker at the state level and deal with alcohol issues, you owe it to yourself and your constituents to read this book. If you are a wine lover and find yourself frustrated by the various laws that seem contrived to keep you from enjoying wine then you need to read this book.

What I was most interested in discovering was how an even handed treatment of the subject of wine politics would look and read like. I don't deal in evenhandedness when I approach and work in this area. I've seen enough to know that it accomplishes nothing to give those who work the system the benefit of the doubt. But Colman, in tackling this subject, is obligated to be evenhanded. And he pulls it off quite nicely.

The very first chapter asks, "What is Wine Politics". The answer Tyler provides is telling and explains the need for such a book:

"battles over the politics of wine are more often fought on the ground--sometimes literally. Where are the lines of the best growing zones drawn?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thad Westhusing on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It is said that to really appreciate wine, one must understand its context. When some talk of "context", they often focus on what is in the bottle, such as a wine's varietal makeup, the vineyard from which its fruit was sourced, and/or the vintage which serves to describe the growing season. Even still, there are some who extend context further to include the historical and cultural influences shaping a wine, specifically those factors that have served to guide viticulturists and enologists in a singular fashion within a particular region.

Tyler Colman has now broadened this notion of context with Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink, a book that should appeal to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of wine.

If you have ever wondered why certain wines show up on some store shelves but not others, or why specific wines appear on certain restaurant menus while others do not, then you should read Wine Politics. The book not only explains how politics influence the distribution of wine here in the U.S., but also reveals how these same forces direct each bottle's production and eventual consumption. The best description of this book is offered by the author in Chapter 1::

"In this book I follow the travels that a bottle of wine takes from the vineyard to the dining-room table. Along the way it may encounter flying winemakers, humble vignerons, dull regulators, passionate activists, and powerful critics. I tell the neglected backstory of wine, which, as with Hollywood movies, can often be more interesting than the finished product."

Tyler Colman, a.k.a. Dr. Vino, approaches this topic by following the wine histories of France and the U.S.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Giovanni Malpaghini on August 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are so many wine books out there this summer, many of them by retailers who have veiled advertorials in the fabric of "passion." It's truly refreshing to see a book like Dr. Coleman's, written with serious thought, using original research, and addressing one of the most important -- and often overlooked -- issues facing the contemporary wine drinker: how do the powers-that-be affect the market and our palates? Where most "wine writers" are erstwhile marketers who treat wine with undue snobbery and elitism, Coleman has delivered a genuinely useful piece of journalism that dispels many of the superfluous mythologies surrounding the world of wine today with empirical data.

As one reviewer put it, this book is sure to become "required reading for any serious wine education program."

Coleman's spare, economic writing style evokes an era when writers (think Hemingway) were not afraid to use words as instruments of thought rather than the other way around. An A+ for readability...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Prado on October 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wine Politics is a book that tells us how wine is made. It is not about pruning, grape selection, fermentation methods or blending. It does take a tangent that is often set aside by most wine drinkers. The author explains and exemplifies, in a manner that makes it very clear that adjacent decisions to wine making are sometimes more influential on the styles of wines that we drink than the actual transformation of fruit into wine. It tells you about the conditions on which farmers and winemakers have to conform to practice their craft. Its approach is sober and it does not rely on a fatalistic or demagogic rhetoric as it portrays the matter of winemaking and its history in a holistic manner. It pictures the cause and effect of political, economical and marketing decisions on the wines we drink.

Tyler Colman's purpose is to enlighten the consumer about the political forces that all producers have to be subjected by, even those seen as celebrities. As he says: it "illuminates how distributors, mobsters, environmentalists, regulators, and critics all have a hand in producing, selling and delivering the glass of wine we will drink tonight". In doing it so, it also helps to demystify the common dogmatic approach to wine, as choices in wine making, more often than not, are a fruit of impositions of political and marketing realities.

This book takes on the USA and French markets as examples and set them "side by side, studying the different paths taken by winemakers ... to produce the quality wines we enjoy today.
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