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Hugh Johnson's the Story of Wine Hardcover – July 28, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
First published in 1989 in an illustrated 480-page edition, Johnson's sweeping chronicle of the making, merchandising and drinking of wine has been considerably pared down but remains brimful of fascinating information. Beginning with what we know of oenology in ancient Egypt and Greece, the text travels up to the 21st century, citing, for example, countries that produced the "most exciting wines" of 2003. Along the way, famed wine writer Johnson revisits the ongoing debate of who is responsible for introducing vineyards into France, reveals that the coupling of bottle and cork in the 17th century allowed wine to age properly and recalls Thomas Jefferson declaring that wine was "the only antidote to the bane of whiskey." Sidebars throughout relate sprightly anecdotes, such as the story of Magellan stocking his ships for the 1519–1521 circumnavigation of the globe (he spent more on sherry than he did on armaments—and then got himself killed en route). Some 125 maps and illustrations in lush color and b&w depict everything from a 5,000-year-old panel that is the first known illustration of wine drinking to a striking photo of a hyper-modernistic winery in Spain. While necessarily less comprehensive than the initial edition, this version is a thorough survey of the elixir that, as Johnson says, owes its popularity to its power to banish care.
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About the Author
Hugh Johnson is recognized as the world's favourite wine writer. Hugh Johnson's first book and internationally bestselling Wine was published in 1966, and subsequent award-winning titles, including Story of Wine and Wine Companion, now in its fifth edition, have established him as one of the subject's foremost writers. He then went on to write The World Atlas of Wine, also now in its fifth edition and co-authored with Jancis Robinson. His annually updated Pocket Wine Book sells over 400,000 copies each year. Hugh lives in Essex. Margaret Rand, Editor of this edition, is an award-winning wine writer and a former editor of Wine International. She is the co-author (with Oz Clarke) of Grapes & Wines and the General Editor of Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book and Mitchell Beazley's Classic Wine Library series. Margaret also contributes to a wide range of international publications. Margaret lives in London.
Top customer reviews
Since one of the stories I tell as a storyteller is about Medea, it was very interesting to learn that the cultivation of wine came from her part of the world, Colchis, which is now Georgia. I think of Medea as a chemist, so I now wonder if this ancient myth's location had anything to do with the cultivation and fermenting of wine. Was it she who took this knowledge to the Mediterranean when she escaped with Jason to that location? We can only speculate. I keep reading this book with each glass of wine I take in the evenings.
Considering the wine a form of useful knowledge and a form of art, "The sorty of wine" is a masterpiece on the subject. It is also written in such a way you may feel you are part of the trips Mr. Johnson did in order to come up with this brilliant work. A book for the lovers of this beverage that is more than something to drink, it is a pleasure for the soul.
What's the big deal? Why so many books, why such intense feeling? Wine is just the fermented juice of grapes. Yes, and music is just organized noise and sex is merely one of the ways in which organisms ensure perpetuation of their type.
The reason for the passion isn't to be found in alcohol alone. Almost any sugary solution will support fermentation, and it seems that just about every possible sweet liquid has been fermented from time to time. An amateur winemakers' guide in my library lists recipes for the production of wines from almonds, apples, bananas, barley, beetroot, birch sap, cloves, clover, eggplant, guava, lemons, oak leaves, orange juice, parsley, parsnips, peapods, squash, tea, tomatoes, wallflowers, yarrow and yes, to complete the alphabet, zinnias.
These 'wines'are all possible, but none of them exist. In fact, we restrict our winemaking to just a few varieties of grape. Why?
Aside from the many economic advantages, the fermented juice of grapes is delicious. At its most common, it's a fresh and fruity drink that quenches the thirst and gladdens the heart. At its most exalted, the basic flavors of the grape are transformed by fermentation and aging into a symphony of aromas and tastes and lingering associations. Both the bountiful nature of grape vines and the enormous appeal of their fermented fruit's juice has led civilized man to attach a lot of meaning to wine.
Johnson's book, a slimmed down version of the earlier Vintage , not only reminds us that the question of wine's importance needs to be asked, it goes a long way to providing an answer. His range of reference is impressive and his writing-witting and incisive-is impeccable. When you're ready to try to understand how wine attained its place in the modern world, there's no better place to start than this book.
Lynn Hoffman, author of The New Short Course in Wine