A New History of Wine (Interview)

"He [Robert Mondavi] would go into a restaurant or a retailer, and he would have three bottles of wine in paper bags, and two of them would be French wines and one wine would be his, and he would dare people to tell the difference."

Dionysos
Dionysos

NPR strikes again. How could a commute here in the San Francisco Bay Area be tolerable without KQED, our local National Public Radio affiliate?

On today’s “Fresh Air” segment, wine history was the subject. Author Paul Lukacs spoke about his new book Inventing Wine. The result was an often fascinating discussion about the history of wine, which included the historic (“Babies drank it; old people drank it; soldiers drank it; everybody drank wine all the time”), the prosaic (“the language of taste is metaphor. We’re drawing analogies all the time.”), and the humorous (“The early … United States was a phenomenally drunken place. People drank from morning till night.”)

American wine patriarch Robert Mondavi proved to be one of the more interesting topics during the 30-minute interview. On how Mondavi would sell the idea of American wine to a skeptical audience:

“He would go into a restaurant or a retailer, and he would have three bottles of wine in paper bags, and two of them would be French wines and one wine would be his, and he would dare people to tell the difference; and the great triumph would be if you couldn’t tell the American wine apart from the European wine.”

As I’ve done so many times, when I got back into the office, I Googled Lukacs, and read about the author and his new book. I’ve yet to read it, though I see that a Kindle version ($15.92) is available, and I’m just about finished the most superb Under the Banner of Heaven (Jon Krakauer) so I may give it a go.

There’s nothing more interesting than listening to a well informed subject matter expert talk about their passion – and do it with so many interesting juicy tidbits especially when that topic is wine, one that can often come across as banal, boring, or as is often the case in new media over-the-top. Here’s the segment below. Give it a listen – you may never look at that bottle of California Cab the same way again.

Listen: On Wine History – Paul Lukacs

From NPR Fresh Air

Author Paul Lukacs spoke to NPR about the history of wine.

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