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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I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is No, 1WineDude has not become a German Wine Blog. It just looks that way because October has (primarily) featured German wines and German wine happs. This is due to TasteLive.com having dedicated the month to featuring selections picked by the organization Wines of Germany (I helped to set this up and might collect a modest “finder’s fee” for that – if I’m lucky). Also, Wines of Germany keeps sending me pictures of the German hotties who were vying for the German Wine Queen title, and I’m just shallow enough that those caught my interest.
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be your co-host for the wrap-up German wine event at TasteLive.com on October 22, which is open to the public – that means that you can join us in tasting and tweeting about the following wines live from the comfort of your favorite drinking chair! (TasteLive has partnered with Bacchus Wine and Spirits for those that can’t source the wines locally).
- Selbach-Oster, Riesling, Kabinett, Mosel, 2007/2008
- Leitz, Riesling, “Eins Zwei Dry,” Rheingau, 2008
- Dönnhoff, Riesling, Nahe, 2008
- Darting, Riesling, Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Kabinett, Pfalz, 2008
I’ve had the Selbach-Oster and the Leitz, and they’re both really tasty wines, which probably bodes well for the other selections. Those of you who have been following along at home with the previous October events featuring German wines know that the selections have all be very good, so I’m really looking forward to the 22nd.
More detail is available on the TasteLive Blog.
Sign up over at TasteLive.com, get yourself the wines, and join us on the 22nd!
I recently received a press release from the Wine School of Philadelphia, with whom I’ve been discussing taking part in their Sommelier Smackdown event series (basically, in a Smackdown event the Wine School staff take on local wine personalities and wine pros in a contest to match up wines with dinner recipes, and usually much merriment / fun / smack-talk ensues).
So far, we haven’t been able to nail down a mutually available date, and both the Wine School of Phila. and I had been lax in following up to make it happen. Their recent press release helped to clear things up, though – turns out that the reason things have been delayed (and I am not making this up) is that they’ve been issued a cease and desist order on the Sommelier Smackdown event series – from World Wrestling Entertainment!
Vince McMahon Issues Smackdown Against Wine School
Philadelphia, PA. Vince McMahon is taking on his oddest foe to date: a sommelier wine tasting. The World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., has issued a cease and desist against The Wine School of Philadelphia and its popular “Sommelier Smackdown” series of wine classes.
In a letter to the school’s owner, the WWE’s lawyers are threatened legal action if the school does not stop hosting the series of wine tastings. “I feel kind of special,” says Keith Wallace, “I am being picked on by Vince McMahon. I better start working out.”
The Sommelier Smackdown is a series of food and wine pairing events that take place in Philadelphia. The event pits a sommelier against a member of The Wine School team, and the audience gets to vote for the winner.
Mr. Wallace says he will not stop running the classes, at least for now. “They don’t have a leg to stand on. I am not going to bow down to a bully,” he says. “They claim that they own the term “smackdown” but they don’t.”
In response to the WWE threat, Wallace is calling out Mr. McMahon and the wrestler Chris Jerico to a wine-tasting double-team cage match.
Keith Wallace is the Founder and Director of The Wine School of Philadelphia. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Beast, and is currently working on his first book for Running Press.
Oh, sure, use the old “I can’t go head-to-head with you today, I’m in legal action with the WWE” excuse. Cowards!
But seriously, I imagine that you are having the same reaction that I did – as in, WTF?!?!?!
Let’s just get one thing clearer than a Loire Muscadet Sevre et Maine right now: I am NOT getting into a throw-down, folding-chair-throwing cage match with anybody over wine pairings…especially Robert Parker, because that guy is big…