Thursday, December 13, 2012


The Curious World of Wine

                      by Richard Vine, PhD

Reviewed by Doc Lawrence

With an already overloaded food and wine library, the last thing I needed was another book about wine. Or, so I arrogantly thought. Everything changed with the arrival of Richard Vine’s remarkable book, The Curious World of Wine (Perrigee 2012), a delightful work that just replaced a terribly boring book about wine better suited as a doorstop.

Richard Vine, PhD, is an Emeritus Professor of Enology at Purdue University and his masterful Curious World of Wine has packed into each page a charming assemblage of lore and facts that successfully incorporate knowledge with entertainment. I began reading it during breakfast and found myself quoting from it for columns I was writing. Ideas appeared like new spring cudzoo and life was enriched with these “facts, legends, and lore” as his subtitle states.

The book, printed in digest size, has the feel of a diary and the content of a classic textbook. I gauge books like films and plays: Do they serve a higher purpose? If entertainment is achieved, wonderful. If exhilaration comes from added knowledge, all the better. And that’s part of the real value in this book.

America’s Founding Fathers were men of letters and children of the Enlightenment who knew their way around a wine cellar. Vine relates a response by Benjamin Franklin to an Abbot who used Franklin’s name and reputation as a bon vivant with excessive jest. Franklin’s response to the overbearing piousness was forgiving: “Let us adore and drink.”

Books make a permanent gift. Wine adds elegance to the gesture of giving. A bottle of Frank Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2009 included with a copy of The Curious World of Wine is almost guaranteed to ignite, solidify or possibly repair a relationship.

That’s part of the glory of the grape, particularly during the holiday season.

Enjoy this story about celebrating the holidays in the mountains of North Carolina during the production of Carl White’s “Life in the Carolinas.”

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