Milk Money: Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm.
Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
Because of the similarity of wine's color to that of blood, the ancients regarded wine as sacred, a gift of the gods. Until the introduction of scientific management to winemaking, wine's creation and manufacture continued to have an aura of mystery. Some batches turned out well; others spoiled or took on unpleasant aromas and flavors. Such unpredictability did not hinder a very early worldwide trade in good wine around the Mediterranean basin. Until Pasteur showed how yeasts fed on sugars and produced carbon dioxide and alcohol, only really experienced and adept vintners could forecast outcomes. In highly readable prose, Lukacs tells the story of winemaking's worldwide history, recounting such ever-fascinating stories as the discovery of champagne and the creation of phenomenally unctuous and costly wines from what appear to be overripe, rotten grapes. And no history of wine would be complete without reference to America's misguided rejection of wine in Prohibition. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2012 October #5
Rather than an eternal cultural verity, wine is the product of innovative discontinuities, according to this flavorful history. Lukacs (American Vintage) argues that superlatively drinkable modern wines bear little resemblance to the barely potable swill—vinegary, quick-spoiling, adulterated (with lead!), used mainly to get drunk, commune with the gods, or decontaminate water—of centuries past. In his telling, that transformation is a story of technological revolutions, from the 17th century's new-fangled bottles and corks that kept souring oxygen away to latter-day temperature-controlled vats and winery chemistry labs. Intertwined were cultural and economic shifts that transformed wine from an intrinsically sacred object first to a secular commodity subject to intense market competition and then to a bourgeois art-beverage valued more for aesthetics and cachet than inebriating power. Lukacs combines an erudite, raptly appreciative connoisseurship of fine wines with lucid analyses of the prosaics of wine production, marketing and consumption. At times he succumbs too much to the mysticism of terroir, "the complex interplay of soil, climate and culture" that makes a wine "true to its origins," even as much of the book tacitly debunks such "invent traditions." Still, his absorbing treatise shows just how much the grape's bounty owes to human ingenuity and imagination. (Dec.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC