By Kori ~ October 28th, 2008.
Thank you for joining us for the fifth “virtual meeting” of the Wine Book Club. Many thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 who originally proposed the idea for the WBC where bloggers and wine lovers all over the world come together for book reviews and discussions every other month after reading a selected text. Dr. Debs is also our host for this edition and the text she selected was Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink by Tyler Colman.
Tyler Colman, aka Dr. Vino, is a fellow wine blogger and teaches wine classes at NYU and the University of Chicago. His wine writing has also appeared in print publications such as Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits, and the New York Times. Wine Politics grew out of Mr. Colman’s PhD dissertation in the political science department at Northwestern University. He set out to examine the political factors that influence how a wine is made, how much it costs, how it is labeled, what wines we can actually buy, and so forth. A lot of information is packed into this relatively short 148-page read.
While he presents a lot of interesting information, the chapter that I found the most compelling was Chapter 4, Baptists and Bootleggers, particularly the section on distributor politics. As a citizen of the United States of America, home of the free-enterprise system, it is hard to believe that in 2008 there still remain numerous archaic laws regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol. I thought this line summed up how ridiculous these laws can be:
“Because of the odd patchwork of state laws, it is easier for a producer to ship a case of wine from Bordeaux to Berlin than from Napa to New Jersey.”
Let’s think about that: it is easier to ship wine from France to Germany than it is to ship it within the United States of America.
If you really want to know why you can’t buy a bottle of wine you fell in love with on a recent trip to California and have it shipped to your home, then you should definitely pick up a copy of Wine Politics to find out. And then head over to Free the Grapes to join the grassroots effort to remove these restrictions. However, if you’re simply looking for basic wine information or for a recommendation on what bottle of wine to drink tonight, then this book is probably not for you.
If you’ve already read Wine Politics, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.
Filed under: Wine Book Club, Wine Books