Book Review: In Search of Bacchus

By John ~ July 2nd, 2010.

Since I had read and really enjoyed George Taber’s first book, Judgment of Paris, the story of the historic California vs. France wine tasting in Paris in 1976, I have been looking forward to reading another of his books. However, Kori read and reviewed Taber’s next book, To Cork or Not to Cork, and she wasn’t quite as impressed. In it, Taber takes readers through the history of wine closures going back to ancient times. As she said, “For a ‘wine-head’ like myself, I found the book quite interesting but was disappointed to find that after reading all 270 pages, Taber never definitively answers the question posed in the title of whether to cork or not to cork. A more appropriate title for this book would be The History of Wine Closures.”

After one hit and one okay book in our opinion, I was curious to see how we would find Taber’s book number three, In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism. As you may know, Bacchus is the Roman god of wine. So, in January 2008, Taber set out, as he says, in search of Bacchus in twelve of the world’s most interesting wine regions. This book is the story of what he found out about wine tourism along the way.

I have visited five of the regions he explored and would like to visit the other seven someday. I was interested in reading what Taber said about the five I’m familiar with, as an indication of how good a grade I would give the book. Each chapter follows basically the same format. The majority of the chapter recites the history of the wine region and its most prominent players. Then it gives a short summary of today in the region and contrasts the conditions today with the past. Each chapter then finishes with a short “Diary of a Wine Tourist,” which summarizes something memorable that Taber did while in the region—from bungee jumping in New Zealand, to big game drives in South Africa, to cooking classes in a Tuscan monastery. I found those diaries to be the most interesting part of the book.

In Search of Bacchus might be Taber’s best book, especially if you are a traveler. I liked what he said about the places I have visited and plan to use the information in this book to help me plan future trips to the other wine regions that he explored. So if you enjoy traveling and are interested in learning more about the wine regions of the world, I encourage you to pick up a copy today.

Have you already read In Search of Bacchus? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.

Cheers! Salud! Cin Cin!

Filed under: Wine Books, Wine Travel

Reader's Comments

  1. Mike Veseth | July 3rd, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I had the pleasure to talk with George Taber about his experiences in writing this book at a conference at UC Davis last week where he spoke about The Judgment of Paris, the topic of his first book.

    Here’s my take on In Search of Bacchus

  2. John | July 3rd, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Thanks for your comments and the link to your review. I can tell that you really liked the book as well. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall during your visit with Taber.
    Have a great 4th!

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