cover image History in a Glass: Sixty Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet

History in a Glass: Sixty Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet

, . . Modern Library, $24.95 (374pp) ISBN 978-0-679-64312-8

Gourmet 's editor-in-chief peers into the archives for an intriguing perspective on wine-making history since the magazine's 1941 founding. Reichl culls from a cornucopia of famous food writers—Gerald Asher, James Beard, Frank Schoonmaker—and bares an unabashed boosterism for American wines. As Schoonmaker notes in a series of shimmering early pieces, American vintners had a grand opportunity for growth during the war years, with eminent French chateaux under German control, and yet American viticulture was still reeling from the abuses of Prohibition. Moreover, American vintners resisted using indigenous grape varieties, ignoring "the greatest natural grape-growing area on the earth's surface." With time, the second "American Revolution" was achieved, as Hugh Johnson and Frederick S. Wildman Jr. note enthusiastically in articles from the 1960s and '70s. Meanwhile, Gourmet 's bon vivants traveled from France's Bordeaux, Burgundy, Côte d'Or and Rhône regions to Germany's Rhineland, Hungary's elusive Tokay and Spain's Sherry capital, Jerez de la Frontera. Hugh Johnson's supercilious essay "The Wines of Italy" (1972) asks sneeringly, "What great wines, if any, are there in Italy?" thus demonstrating the occasional datedness of the pieces. Wines of Chile, Australia and New Mexico have also inspired these literary oenophiles, happily so. (On sale Mar. 7)