By Tyler Colman
Publisher: University of California Press
Tyler Colman is perhaps better known under the name Dr Vino and is as such one of the most interesting wine bloggers in the US. This book is a result of his PhD dissertation in political science at Northwestern University. The book reads like a collection of historical/political essays on very different subjects around wine, mainly the recent (20th century) history of wine (and is perhaps not so much an analytical overview of wine and politics). It starts of in France and then goes around the world. Colman talks about terroir, the French appellation system, birth of the Californian wine industry and the American prohibition, the bizarre rules and regulations around wine distribution in the US, the impact of large wine corporations and the influence of (some) wine critics, and even organic and biodynamic wines. The strongest sections of the book are the one where Colman dissects the American wine industry and how, curiously, it is a business that is far from being open and competition driven (as one would have thought in the US) but is more marked by special interests, monopoly or oligopoly regulations and not-so-free a market. It is certainly a very interesting introduction to how the US wine industry functions and why it has become such a not-free-market industry. Some sections feel more out of place (and not always 100% accurate – French appellation, biodynamics). But in spite of this, it is an immensely readable and interesting book that we certainly recommend for anyone who wants to understand the US wine market better.