THE STORY OF WINE: New Illustrated Edition

Hugh Johnson, Author . Mitchell Beazley $40 (256p) ISBN 978-1-84000-972-9

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. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-85732-997-1
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