Thursday, July 12, 2012

Authentic Wine Book Review

Ever since I first heard the term “natural wine,” I’ve struggled with it. All wine is made from fruit, so it’s natural, yet all of it has been manipulated in some way, so it’s not natural. In their book, Authentic Wine (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011), authors Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop suggest an alternative—“authentic wine.” It has a nice sound to it, recognizing that, dependent on location and tradition, winemaking varies from location to location. Sadly, this is actually in danger of no longer being true, as the majority of wines are now made in a more international style, consistent but not reflective of provenance.

The book travels around the world, investigating diversity of wine (and future lack?), terroir (“terroir is a partnership between the site and winegrower”), grafted vines (Are they natural? Do they still reflect terroir?), biodynamics and organics, sustainable winegrowing, the chemical and physical manipulation of wine, the natural wine movement, and more. The book is full of examples of the myriad ways people are approaching these wine-related themes around the world.
“What is meant by the term natural? Is wine different from other alcoholic beverages, and why? Is there such a thing as ‘fake’ wine? What is the appropriate use of technology in winemaking? What additions to wine should be allowed, and who gets to decide? And, practically, how can winemakers adjust their methods to make more honest, expressive, and interesting wines?”
These are the questions the authors post at the outset. With clear language, varied examples, and wide-ranging thinking, the authors not only answer the questions but, in my case, helped me formulate some answers of my own. Highly recommended as a balanced look at the sometimes contentious world of “natural wine.”

About the Authors:
Jamie Goode, a former scientific editor, is wine writer for the Sunday Express and a contributor to magazines including The World of Fine Wine and Wines + Vines. His website,, is one of the world’s most visited wine sites. His first book, The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass (UC Press) won the Glenfiddich Drink Book of the Year Award.

Sam Harrop is a Master of Wine, qualified winemaker, and independent winemaking consultant. He co-founded Domaine Matassa and Litmus Wines, and is a co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of the University of California Press. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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1 comment:

  1. It's so depressing how heirloom everything is disappearing! Sounds like an interesting read.