Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine

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Manufacturer Description

“A myth-busting, history-reclaiming, science-centric, skeptical—and yet loving and respectful—tour of the history, the present, and even the future of wine production.” 
Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows

“This is quite a book and I hope it is read widely throughout the wine world and that it has a huge impact. The fact that current practices have put a halt to evolution for wine grapes, that was news to me. Tasting the Past shocked the hell out of me.”   
—Kermit Lynch, wine merchant and author of Adventures on the Wine Route


Discover the hidden life of wine.

After a chance encounter with an obscure Middle Eastern red, journalist Kevin Begos embarks on a ten-year journey to seek the origins of wine. What he unearths is a whole world of forgotten grapes, each with distinctive tastes and aromas, as well as the archaeologists, geneticists, chemists—even a paleobotanist—who are deciphering wine down to molecules of flavor. We meet a young scientist who sets out to decode the DNA of every single wine grape in the world; a researcher who seeks to discover the wines that Caesar and Cleopatra drank; and an academic who has spent decades analyzing wine remains to pinpoint ancient vineyards. Science illuminates wine in ways no critic can, and it has demolished some of the most sacred dogmas of the industry: for example, well-known French grapes aren’t especially noble.

We travel with Begos along the original wine routes—starting in the Caucasus Mountains, where wine grapes were first domesticated eight thousand years ago; then down to Israel and across the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy, and France; and finally to America where vintners are just now beginning to make distinctive wines from a new generation of local grapes. Imagine the wine grape version of heirloom vegetables or craft beer, or better yet, taste it: Begos offers readers drinking suggestions that go far beyond the endless bottles of Chardonnay and Merlot found in most stores and restaurants.

In this viticultural detective story wine geeks and history lovers alike will discover new tastes and flavors to savor.