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Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures (Hardcover)

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The story of how wine, as enjoyed by millions of people today, came to be.


Drinking wine can be traced back 8,000 years, yet the wines we drink today are radically different from those made in earlier eras. While its basic chemistry remains largely the same, wine's social roles have changed fundamentally, being invented and reinvented many times over many centuries.

In Inventing Wine, Paul Lukacs tells the enticing story of wine's transformation from a source of spiritual and bodily nourishment to a foodstuff valued for the wide array of pleasures it can provide. He chronicles how the prototypes of contemporary wines first emerged when people began to have options of what to drink, and he demonstrates that people selected wine for dramatically different reasons than those expressed when doing so was a necessity rather than a choice.


During wine's long history, men and women imbued wine with different cultural meanings and invented different cultural roles for it to play. The power of such invention belonged both to those drinking wine and to those producing it. These included tastemakers like the medieval Cistercian monks of Burgundy who first thought of place as an important aspect of wine's identity; nineteenth-century writers such as Grimod de la Reyniere and Cyrus Redding who strived to give wine a rarefied aesthetic status; scientists like Louis Pasteur and Émile Peynaud who worked to help winemakers take more control over their craft; and a host of visionary vintners who aimed to produce better, more distinctive-tasting wines, eventually bringing high-quality wine to consumers around the globe.


By charting the changes in both wine's appreciation and its production, Lukacs offers a fascinating new way to look at the present as well as the past.



About the Author


Paul Lukacs is the author of American Vintage and The Great Wines of America. A James Beard, Cliquot, and IACP award winner, he has been writing about wine and its cultural contexts for nearly twenty years. He is a professor of English at Loyola University of Maryland, where he directs the University's Center for the Humanities. He lives in Baltimore.

Praise For…


Rather than an eternal cultural verity, wine is the product of innovative discontinuities, according to this flavorful history.... [Lukacs’s] absorbing treatise shows just how much the grape’s bounty owes to human ingenuity and imagination.

Noted American oenophile Lukacs tells the story of wine over eight millenniums and around the globe. Themes of interest to oenophiles, from wine’s longtime disrepute in North America to England’s love affair with Bordeaux, and fascinating details—for instance, the unearthing of 26 casks of wine in King Tut’s tomb—heighten the pleasure of this engrossing narrative. A richly readable and authoritative addition to the literature of wine.

In highly readable prose, Lukacs tells the story of winemaking’s worldwide history, recounting such ever-fascinating stories as the discovery of champagne and the creation of phenomenally unctuous and costly wines from what appear to be overripe, rotten grapes.

Just when it seemed that there was nothing new to be said about wine, Paul Lukacs tells an intriguing and original tale that is thoroughly enjoyable reading.
— Mark Kurlansky, author of Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man and Salt: A World History

Inventing Wine makes us grateful as wine lovers that we are living in the second golden age of wine, when the quality and choices far exceed anything possible before.

— Paul Jameson

Paul Lukacs’s Inventing Wine focuses on how the perception of wine has changed over time, through wars, revolution, prosperity and deprivation. ... Inventing Wine is broader and more ambitious in scope than his previous books, looking at how wine and Western civilization grew up together.

— Dave McIntyre
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393064520
ISBN-10: 0393064522
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2012
Pages: 384
Language: English

by Dr. Radut