252 pages, 62 colour illustrations
An excellent bottle of wine can be the spark that inspires a brainstorming session. Such was the case for Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle, scientists who frequently collaborate on book and museum exhibition projects. When the conversation turned to wine one evening, it almost inevitably led the two – one a palaeoanthropologist, the other a molecular biologist – to begin exploring the many intersections between science and wine.
A Natural History of Wine presents their fascinating, freewheeling answers to the question "What can science tell us about wine?" And vice versa. Conversational and accessible to everyone, this colorfully illustrated book embraces almost every imaginable area of the sciences, from microbiology and ecology (for an understanding of what creates this complex beverage) to physiology and neurobiology (for insight into the effects of wine on the mind and body).
The authors of A Natural History of Wine draw on physics, chemistry, biochemistry, evolution, and climatology, and they expand the discussion to include insights from anthropology, primatology, entomology, Neolithic archaeology, and even classical history. The resulting volume is indispensible for anyone who wishes to appreciate wine to its fullest.
"A Natural History of Wine fills an important gap in our understanding of how the Eurasian grapevine evolved over millions of years to become the wine grape par excellence."
– Patrick E. McGovern, author of Ancient Wine and Uncorking the Past
"An afflatus of the freshest air amid the smog of today's wine blather. Cuts through the unctuous astrology of so much oeno-sophism with, thank Dionysos, the balm of fact. A Lucretius for wine epicures."
– William Fitch, Wine Director, Vinegar Hill House
"In this unique and most enjoyable work, the enthusiasm of these two wine-loving scholars is compelling as they examine in depth one of life's greatest pleasures."
– Brian Flanagan, Director of Wine Education at Burgundy Wine Company
"Wine is art. Wine is ritual. Wine is culture. Wine is romance. But in the hands of Tattersall and DeSalle, who are boundlessly curious naturalists, we learn that wine is also science. And that enhanced awareness serves only to magnify your appreciation of this timeless beverage."
– Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist (& Wine Lover), American Museum of Natural History
"Tattersall and DeSalle have given us an original, in-depth yet accessible book which will excite wine lovers and wine professionals alike with new perspectives on the subject [...] A great addition to the literature."
– Pascaline Lepeltier, Master Sommelier, Rouge Tomate Chelsea
"Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle have written one of the most fascinating wine books ever. Consummate scientist-storytellers, they take us into 'universes' of wine that have rarely been explored before. I loved reading this book!"
– Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible
"Oh, to have had A Natural History of Wine in my hands when I was embarking on a career in wine! The authors, gifted storytellers both, engagingly lead us through the complexities of such topics as grapevine genetics, the geological and climatic underpinnings of terroir, the biochemistry of fermentation and the like with clear and understandable explanations. Read this book and then read it again. You will be rewarded with a true understanding and appreciation of the science of wine."
– Rory Callahan, Wine & Food Associates
"Now here is a text that should be required reading for any serious sommelier. Each chapter is an engaging entity on its own, which reminds me we never stop learning something new."
– Roger Dagorn, Master Sommelier, One Five Hospitality Management
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Ian Tattersall is curator emeritus in the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York City. Rob DeSalle is curator of entomology in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, AMNH.