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Posted August 5, 2006
A fascinating history of the wine trade.
Thomas Pellechia:'Wine: The Eight-Thousand-Year-Old Story of the Wine Trade.' This book won my heart from the dedication page, and held it throughout. Pellechia dedicates the book to my nearby wine merchant, the one with a great selection and a pleasant, knowledgeable staff. Thomas believes, as I do, that establishing a good working relationship with an excellent wine merchant is essential to learning about the joys of wine. In his final chapter, he describes some of the changes in the US wine market that have made establishing such a relationship even easier. Of course, one has to exercise a degree of caution in dealing with any retailer. Today it's important to be sure your retailer is selling wines that have been shipped in refrigerated reefers to avoid spoilage from heat damage. George Washington gave similar advice to avoid other shipping problems: 'I should be glad in that case, to have it well secured against adulteration for I had rather lose the whole, than to have part taken out and the deficiency supplied with water, which is too common a practice with the river Shippers.' Letter to Lamar Hill Bisset on September 1, 1785. Wine merchants can be wonderful teachers as anyone following my recent notes on wines sent to me by Andrea Robinson can attest. Another example: Thomas George Shaw, a Scotman who was active in the London wine trade between 1830 and 1865, wrote a wonderful history of dealing with wine during those years, 'Wine, the Vine and the Cellar', 1864. He is particularly good on his successful efforts to reduce the import duty on wine, and quite interesting on the qualities of wines from various parts of the world. His advice to wine lovers rings true today: 'I have seen and tasted and drunk as much [wine], and have, probably, as good a taste as the generality of men but I know by long experience, that I often form a very erroneous opinion, and like a wine one day and dislike it the next: and every other wine merchant might make a similar statement.' Pellechia takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through the business of buying, transporting and selling wines through thousands of years. He illustrates his text with maps carefully keyed to his story, interesting quotes from sometimes unlikely sources, and footnote like facts sprinkled thorughout the text. I particularly enjoyed browsing through the bibliogrpahy. It contains some of the great wine reference books, of course, but also includes some very good history books, books that you might not think of as having anything to do with wine. Pellechia demonstrates that you would be wrong. As Robin Garr writes: 'If you believe, as I do, that the intriguing subject of wine appreciation is broad enough to encompass a more comprehensive range of vision than a mere scorecard, then you're going to love Thomas Pellechia's 'Wine: The Eight-Thousand-Year-Old Story of the Wine Trade.' Pellechia, a respected wine educator and stylish wine writer, wine merchant and wine maker, brings that background to bear in this brisk, intelligent yet highly readable overview of the long and intriguing story of wine since its earliest recorded appearance in ancient Persia. Pellechia's experience uniquely qualifies him to outline the history of the wine trade, a business that may just be the real 'world's oldest profession.'' From the back cover. Strongly recommended for anyone intersted in the history of the wine trade. Regards, BobWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.