Grape vs. Grain: A Historical, Technological, and Social Comparison of Wine and Beer

Overview

Why is wine considered more sophisticated even though the production of beer is much more technologically complex? Why is wine touted for its health benefits when beer has more nutritive value? Why does wine conjure up images of staid dinner parties while beer denotes screaming young partiers? Charles Bamforth explores several paradoxes involving these beverages, paying special attention to the culture surrounding each. He argues that beer can be just as grown-up and worldly as wine and be part of a healthy, ...

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Overview

Why is wine considered more sophisticated even though the production of beer is much more technologically complex? Why is wine touted for its health benefits when beer has more nutritive value? Why does wine conjure up images of staid dinner parties while beer denotes screaming young partiers? Charles Bamforth explores several paradoxes involving these beverages, paying special attention to the culture surrounding each. He argues that beer can be just as grown-up and worldly as wine and be part of a healthy, mature lifestyle. Both beer and wine have histories spanning thousands of years. This is the first book to compare them from the perspectives of history, technology, nature of the market for each, quality attributes, types and styles, and the effect that they have on human health and nutrition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wine results from a shaky art, beer from a stately science asserts Charles Bamforth who guides the reader through the history and production of both from vine to vintage, and barley to beer bubbles. So why is it that in countries such as the United States wine is revered as sophisticated and beer dismissed as common? In pondering such questions Grape vs. Grain offers humorous as well as penetrating insights into two of the world's favorite beverages."
-Kenneth Kiple, Author of A Movable Feast

"Which do you prefer, Beer or Wine? Irrespective of your response, this highly entertaining and informative text is a valued reference for wine and beer aficionados. It will give you a much better insight and appreciation of both. Charlie Bamforth, Chair Department of Food Science and Technology and Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences, is well qualified to discuss wine and beer. It is obvious which one is his first love, but he demonstrates impressive knowledge and profound respect for professionals in both fields and their efforts. He has comparable disdain for inferior products, tacky marketing ploys, and intemperate consumption. He rightfully laments beer's second class image and presents compelling counter arguments.
From the history and tradition to modern developments and health benefits—both good and bad—Charlie provides a fascinating, reasonably objective comparison of beer and wine. The complex technical details (more so beer than wine) are presented in easily understandable language; even the lay reader can grasp the whys and wherefore from raw material to consumption. There's an instructive mix of technology, history, geography, sociology, medicine, economics, even politics. So be it beer or wine, using Charlie's guidelines for selection and tasting, savor your favorite - slowly, thoughtfully, and in moderation. But don't neglect the alternate beverage or unfamiliar styles; you'll learn much and be pleasantly surprised."
- Robert Bates, University of Florida

"Many great books have been written about wine, and many about beer, but until now there has been no comprehensive work comparing the two. Charles Bamforth's Grapes and Grain delves into the social history and technology of both wine and beer, and out of this yeasty mix, provocative insights flow. Bamforth gives the edge to brewed beverages, but wine connoisseurs will be fascinated, and everybody will enjoy his infectious enthusiasm."
- Andrew F. Smith, Editor in chief, The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink

"Grape vs. Grain offers a thorough, comparative look at mankind's two most beloved and culturally significant beverages that will surely change the mind of anyone who thinks of beer as wine's less-sophisticated 'poor relation'. Charles Bamforth's jovial approach to the subject is as clean and refreshing as a Blanche de Bruges on a hot summer day. Not only did I learn a lot from this book, I enjoyed reading it too; I'd love to sit down and share a pint with its author!"
-Alan Tardi, Author of Romancing the Vine (Winner of the 2006 James Beard Best Wine and Spirits Book)

"...readers will find that the book presents a wealth of interesting material that will correct a number of common myths about the subject of beer and wine."
Agricultural History, David Hanson, University of North-Carolina- Chapel Hill

"...good in covering the technical side of both wine making and beer brewing..." -Gastronomica

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521849371
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bamforth is Chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology and Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at the University of California, Davis. He is Editor in Chief of the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists and a member of the editorial boards of Master Brewers Association of the Americas Quarterly, the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, and the Journal of the Institute of Brewing. Bamforth has been referred to as one of the top two or three brewing scientists of his generation.

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Table of Contents

1. Beer and wine: some social commentary; 2. A brief history of wine; 3. A brief history of beer; 4. How wine is made; 5. How beer is made; 6. The quality of wine; 7. The quality of beer; 8. Types of wine; 9. Types of beer; 10. The healthfulness of wine and beer; 11. Conclusions about beer and wine - and the future.

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