I seem to be in ‘book mode’ the last week or two. I’m a bit of a bookworm, so it’s fun for me to mess around at the intersection of wine and the printed word. I still don’t own an eReader device, by the way – I prefer Book 1.0 – you know, the kind with actual pages that you can stick a bookmark between.
Anyway, here’s another piece of printed word that intersects with the wacky world of wine.
David White’s Sippin’ on Top of the World: Toasting Good Times and Better Days, of which I recently received a sample copy, is a bit of a strange book.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s being misrepresented.
Sippin’ on Top of the World isn’t so much a list of wine toasts (as the subtitle would lead you to believe) as it is a series of spiritual wine meditations. Which makes sense when you consider that its author, David White, is the co-founder of the “WineSpirit Institute for the Study of Wine and Spirituality.”
At this point, your mind may be screaming “CULT! CULT!” and planning to run away as quickly as you can lest you be tainted by the odiferous funk of the religious cook. It would be an understandable reaction, though one that I’d argue was totally incorrect.
In fact, depending on your point of view, dismiss Sippin’ on Top of the World too readily and you’d be missing out on some potentially enthralling conversation topics, not to mention possible sources of inspiration…
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I find wine history fascinating. This is because I’m a geek not only about wine, but also about history in general – a trait I picked up in undergrad when I roomed with two good-natured History majors at Saint Joseph’s University. My undergrad studies centered on English Lit., and so the combination of overdosing on fiction and being subtly influenced by my roomies has led to, well, let’s just say several years of reading fascinating non-fiction.
No surprise then that Rod Phillps’ A Short History of Wine should be right up my alley. And while it is a very good read – I’d certainly recommend the book to budding wine geeks – I’d caution that it doesn’t exactly jump out of the gate with intoxicating speed.
Like a young Barolo, Phillips’ book starts dryly and slowly. In fact, it took me several months of starting, stopping and restarting it before I finally got into the rhythm of A Short History of Wine. I’m pleased as syrah-spiked punch that I did stick with it, though, because it offers up a dizzying array of well-researched and fascinating wine facts (along with subtle notes of Phillips’ opinion) on nearly every page – that is, every page after wine hits its heyday (Medieval times) as a precursor to the beverage and industry that we now know and love.
I thought that I’d offer up a couple of the mythbusting tidbits that Phillips’ deftly provides in A Short History of Wine, both to tempt those budding History buffs out there and to( hopefully) clear up misconceptions about a few assumptions that even experienced wine lovers tend to make about the history of their favorite beverage.
Francophiles be warned, I’m going to bust up some French-related wine myths first. Also, if you’re French, note that the next few paragraphs involve both the Dutch and the English. Try not to let your thousand years of mutual aggression get in the way of the enjoyment, ok?…
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- Pronunciation: \-jē\
- Function: noun
- Inflected Form(s): plural et·y·mol·o·gies
- Etymology: Middle English ethimologie, from Anglo-French, from Latin etymologia, from Greek, from etymon + -logia -logy
- Date: 14th century
1 : the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language
2 : a branch of linguistics concerned with etymologies
I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with words. I think it happened in high school; though I’ve been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, I distinctly recall a time in the early Summer during the middle of high school where I became fascinated by the English language, obscure words, and their histories. I vividly remember devouring books like The Endangered English Dictionary. It just sort of… happened, not terribly different from how I fell in love with wine, actually.
Mind you, my love affair with wine happened well after high school, since I was of course too young to legally drink alcohol back them… ahem…
I was recently contacted by Charles Hodgson, an author and podcaster about receiving a review copy of his latest book, History of Wine Words – An Intoxicating Dictionary of Etymology and Word Histories from the Vineyard, Glass, and Bottle. I’m sure that Charles wanted to send me a copy because of the blog (mine, I mean), and not because of my closet desire to be an etymologist, since there’s no way he could have known about that unless he’s also a clairvoyant (to the best of my knowledge, his podcast is about etymology and not long-distance cross-border mind-reading).
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We have WINNERS!
As promised in my recent review of Michele Scott “Wine Lover’s Mystery,” titled Corked by Cabernet, I’ve got two giveaway copies of the book to, well, give away/
I’ve used a super-secret random process involving my dog to select two random winners from the list of commentators for that post, and here they are…!
1) RichardA of passionatefoodie.blogspot.com
2) S Goodwin of… well, I dunno where S Goodwin is from, actually.
Lucky Winners – Please e-mail me at your mailing info. at joe (at) 1winedude (dot) com and I’ll get you your prize copies of Corked by Cabernet with all-speed.