I don't know why it's always surprising to learn of the profound influence of politics over our lives. From the title, I thought I was in for a rehash of circumstances I was already somewhat familiar with but, I was definitely in for a surprise. For a summary of Wine Politics by Tyler Colman, the subtitle says it all: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink. However, whatever opinion you form about what that content entails is most likely influenced by an understanding of the wine industry that has been shaped by PR to some degree, no matter how much of the sordid history of bootleggers and liquor lobbyists you are familiar with already. In short, this is stuff you probably did not know.
What I found in this book were many stories that I was aware of already from reading Matt Kramer and the like but, with an added layer of detail that illuminated everything from the formation of the French Appellations, to how distributors maneuver in an entirely new light. The author, Tyler Colman (aka Dr. Vino) weaves together many observable and oft discussed conditions in the wine industry with little-known catalysts to form some pretty stark revelations.
He admits in the Forward a tendency toward a dry academic tone but, compared to the book I'm reading right now for a course, I found this book to be a breath of fresh air. It's also short, which makes it an easy read. I am recommending this book to anyone interested in learning about wine.
Thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 for both choosing this book for review, and for founding the Wine Book Club.