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In Search of Bacchus ~ Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, by George M. Tabor is a very easy read, especially after loving his book, To Cork or Not to Cork. A favorite wine author, George M. Taber has done it again, with his brilliantly written book, In Search of Bacchus.

You may also know George from his Judgment of Paris book.

From his BIO: George M. Taber was a journalist specializing in financial news for 40 years before publishing his first book about wine in 2005. He worked for 21 years for Time magazine, where he was national economic correspondent in Washington, D.C. and then business editor. In 1988, he left Time to start a weekly business newspaper in New Jersey, NJBIZ, which he sold in 2005. He has since been writing about wine.

In Search of Bacchus ~ Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, George M. Taber delivers not only wonderful tales about his journeys through the wine world, but he also is a great recorder of history for each region, which makes it more rich with understandings for each region.

Having visited Portugal to be with my client Enoforum Wines in late October and early November this year, I skipped right to Chapter Nine first. It’s easy to do with this book, because the chapters are self contained for each region. George takes us to the following locations, and you’ll find each to be unique and richly described:

  • Napa Valley, California
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Colchagua Valley, Chile
  • Margaret River, Australia
  • Central Otago, New Zealand
  • Rioja, Spain
  • Douro Valley, Portugal
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Rheingau and Middle Mosel, Germany
  • Kakheti, Georgia

While in Portugal, I could have visited the Douro region, but I decided that because I’m working with Enoforum Wines from the Alentejo, it would be best to concentrate on that area, at least for now. With George’s book, I was able to learn more about the Douro from the comfort of my own couch. I also did get a bit of a Douro background while at the European Wine Bloggers Conference, but George’s book put even more into context.

First, I was delighted to find the name of the blue and white tiles that create wall murals of Port making. They’re called azulejos. (I’ll be blogging about them in the near future, because I took many images.)

Next, I learned with great interest that the theory of comparative advantage began between the British and the Portuguese. Basically, The Brits are vary famous for their white cloth and the Portuguese are very famous for their Ports.  Trading their core competencies would allow for both countries to not dilute their skill sets, while sharing back and forth in order to have access to the best of both worlds. This happened by the mid 1750’s.

I knew that the Romans brought grape vines to Portugal in the first century BC, but I didn’t realize that the on-again, off-again wars between England and France created a climate where the English heavily taxed and sometimes even banned France’s wines, encouraged English wine merchants to look elsewhere for wine, and Portugal was a natural place to look, since Portugal was an ally. I also have learned, but being in Portugal, that cooperatives are a natural way of conducting the wine business. What I didn’t know was the root of this theory, and now do. It was British rule, when it began to dominate how Port wines would be graded – with all grape growers bringing their grapes to a central location for sales, that began this kind of thinking.

George’s book is a look at the present, but he also brings in the past. As I’ve recently written, To Understand Portuguese Wines, One Must First Understand the People. They are ruled by their past, and continue to carve a very interesting future, by their tried and true penchant for innovation and exploration with the world market. They preserve their history wile enriching their trade practices, all the while be being a very courteous and compassionate people.

You need to read the rest of this chapter for a full history lesson in Port. I dare say this is the best Port lesson you’ll ever gain.

You also need to the rest of his entire book, because it’s so rich with stories and history told in a wonderfully easy going manner that it’s very hard to put down. It traveled with me everywhere until it was completely devoured.

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