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Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink

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  • Posted January 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A terrific read on government's influence over wine

    If you have ever wondered why certain wines show up on some store shelves but not others, or why specific wines appear on certain restaurant menus while others do not, then you should read Wine Politics. The book not only explains how politics influence the distribution of wine here in the U.S., but also reveals how these same forces direct each bottle's production and eventual consumption.

    Tyler Colman, a.k.a. Dr. Vino, approaches this topic by following the wine histories of France and the U.S., with a focus on winemaking in each country's respective, and most venerable, region, Bordeaux and Napa. This comparative treatment offers the reader a variety of useful insights and revelations throughout the book. Tyler extends his geographic coverage to include other regions of the world, including mentions of specific politics, policies, and practices in the Pacific Northwest.

    I enjoyed the second half of the book the most, which includes chapters such as, "Who Controls Your Palate?", and, "Greens, Gripes, and Grapes". What Michael Pollan did in such great detail for food in "The Omnivore's Dilemma", Tyler Colman has now provided for wine, albeit at a cursory level, in these two chapters. For it is in chapters five and six that Tyler exposes the downside of the industrialization of wine, while contrasting this approach with the upside of "natural" winemaking practices.

    After reading Tyler's book, I now have a deeper understanding of the public policies that influence the wines I am able to buy and ultimately enjoy at my table. As a result, I am a much more informed consumer, citizen, and most importantly, voter. I highly recommend Wine Politics as required reading for anyone seeking to enlarge their understanding of wine.

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