Great Bathroom Wine Reading
Who likes Wine?
I've got the book for you: "History of Wine Words". The book is subtitled "An Intoxicating Dictionary of Etymology and Word Histories from the Vineyard, Glass and Bottle."
I'm not sure this book is going to garner a wide number of readers for the same reason I think there are far fewer people reading down this far in this post: most people didn't get past the word "Etymology" and if they did, a number of those aren't big enough fans of word histories to read on.
So, for those of you still reading, what we've got here is a fantastic history of wine words that lead the reader to a deeper understanding of population migration, the history of wine, the migration of winemaking across the globe (mainly across the West) and an author who writes about what could be a very dry subject in an engaging, upbeat and accessible manner.
Basically what you have is a book of word entries listed in alphabetical order with explanations for the origins of the word. For example, under T you'll find the word "Tannins" listed first with this description of how that complex set of molecules came be be known as tannins:
"The word tannin appeared in English in 1802, but the idea of tannins and the sources of their of their name are much older. Leather has been tanned for thousands of years, and in being tanned it takes on a brownish color. This why lying on the beach and turning your skin brown is called tanning. Ancient craftsmen crushed the bark of oak trees and extracted an infusion used to tan leather. The Latin word for tanning leather in this way was tannare but the root of the world may be a Celtic or Gaulish word, Tanno, meaning 'oak'."
Charles Hodgson is the author and was kind enough to pass by myself and others various entries as he wrote them. It was a treat to come to my computer each morning and see the history of a new wine word explored.
Charles is going to hate me for this, so I apologize in advance. "History of Wine Words" is perfect bathroom reading material. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum's character in the great 80's movie "The Big Chill" on what makes for good bathroom reading: Although one COULD read Dostoevsky in the bathroom, you can't finish it in the bathroom, making the best bathroom reading that which is just long enough to finished in the time necessary to execute the average crap.
I love books that you can pick up, turn to any page, and read something interesting and that's exactly what "History of Wine Words" is. But of course it is much more. It is a piece of scholarship that is very unusual for the wine writing genre. It's actually fairly heady stuff for this genre.