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Archive for the ‘Readings’ Category


Sucking Up to My Editor

October 4th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Tina Caputo (right), editor of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, visits England, tries the local sparkling wine, and writes in Harper’s Wine & Spirits Review: I found the wines to be quite dry, with a fair bit of acidity. They had lots of fine bubbles, and showed pleasant aromas and flavors of red fruits, like strawberries [...]

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Alice Feiring Gets Naked

September 28th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Alice Feiring’s new book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally, is being so heavily promoted that even I got a preview copy.  Feiring is a fierce advocate of natural wine, and this book is an account of her research into the origins of that movement. I enjoyed the book, which I read twice [...]

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How To Host a 19th Century Wine Dinner

August 15th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Sir Walter Scott — poet, playwright, and author of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy — apparently thought a lot about how to properly host a raucous dinner party. Here are his three rules for “presiding” over a dinner table (emphasis mine): Get everyone drunk fast. “Always hurry the bottle round for five or six rounds without prosing [...]

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Adding Teeth to Prohibition

August 2nd, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Lindsey Zahn at On Reserve takes a lawyerly look at The Volstead Act, the law that turned the 18th Amendment into Prohibition. Before the Eighteenth Amendment was enacted, many producers of  fermented beverages like wine and beer, thought their products would be precluded from the Amendment and that the Amendment would only restrict alcoholic beverages with [...]

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Poisoning DRC

May 23rd, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Vanity Fair has a fascinating article about the recent plot to blackmail Domain Romanée-Conti. The writing is as dense as smoky as a Grand Cru Burgundy. Here’s a sample: The correspondence instructed (Aubert) de Villaine to leave one million euros in a suitcase in the corner of the Romanée-Conti vineyard, right near the area represented [...]

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Royal Wedding: Horrible But Unlikely Faux Pas

April 29th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

The Washington Times, which occasionally worries about unlikely things (e.g., Sharia Law overtaking the American legal system), worries that the royal wedding reception will run out of wine: Wine is very important at a wedding. It would embarrass the royal family if the supply of wine runs out. The wine cellars of Buckingham Palace contain, according [...]

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American Wine: Commandeered Trains, Martial Law and Constitutional Crisis

April 12th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Appropos of nothing, I ran across this front page of the Milwaukee Journal, telling multiple stories of 1920′s Michigan Rum Rebellion. Prohibition agents basically took over towns in northern Michigan, smashing barrels of home-made wine and causing such a ruckus that local authorities threatened to arrest federal agents for, among other things, libel. It’s fun [...]

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Further Evidence That the Founders Were a Bunch of Drunks

February 1st, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Baylen J. Linnekin of Keep Food Legal publishes a fascinating paper (abstract and download here) on the central role taverns played in the American Revolution in general and the development of the First Amendment in particular. Founding Fathers from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson to John Adams assembled in taverns just like other colonists. Jefferson [...]

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Indirect Book Plug

January 21st, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Alder Yarrow reviews Wine: The 8,000-Year-Old Story of the Wine Trade by regular commentor Thomas Pellechia. Wine is full of intriguing characters and revealing factoids, not dry tables of economic statistics. Did you know that the father of Galen, the famous second century AD physician, wrote about the use of sulfur dioxide in winemaking? I [...]

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Because There’s More to Wine Than Good Taste

November 9th, 2010 by Tom Johnson

Dr. Vino’s excellent book, Wine Politics, is now available in paperback. Why is it often easier in America to buy guns, cigarettes and pornography than it is to buy serious wine from California? In a word, politics. For the record, I think it should be exactly as easy to buy wine as it is to buy guns, [...]

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