Great Bathroom Wine Reading

Winewords Who likes Etymology?

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:

Hodgson"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.


9 Responses

  1. Charles Hodgson - August 4, 2009

    Charles isn’t going to hate you for this. Charles is going to love you for sharing his enthusiasm (even in the bathroom, but hopefully at the dinner table too from time to time).

  2. el jefe - August 4, 2009

    I actually love this sort of stuff. Added to my cart – thanks!

  3. Dyann Espinosa - August 4, 2009

    Actually, I think this book transcends the male bathroom experience and the female version. While the male may extend his time eliminating S**t in the bathroom, perusing the book, the female will extend her time eliminating stress in some soapy bath, also perusing the book. In her case, she can more likely accompany the reading with some empirical data from a handy glass of wine. The guy, probably not.

  4. Dylan - August 5, 2009

    Love the education provided in this book. Language is my first love ever since I could speak it. Words were curious and often interesting, but what truly gave them their fervor was their meanings and in some cases, meanings lost. How these words cross over into a specialized niche such as the wine industry can take on a whole new level as shown by the excerpt you listed for tannins.

  5. Cabernet Sauvignon - August 5, 2009

    Etymology has to be one of the most interesting ‘hobby’-studies someone can engage in (not that I’m discounting its authenticity as a full discipline). You start to see more behind the words of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Siduri Pinot Noir, and so forth. In a way, you watch history unfold through language.
    And for some killer prices on these (seriously–this place only sells 90+ rated wines), go ahead and take a look here:

  6. Wine Clubs - August 5, 2009

    Is there any wine book that isn’t great bathroom reading?
    Love the shameless plug by the last poster, lol

  7. Emma Smith - October 6, 2009

    I am fond of collecting a different-different wine. But reading a book no lol…
    thanks for your new book.
    Emma Smith

  8. 30 Bathroom Vanity - February 24, 2010

    Thanks for a great post. I have subscribed to your site’s RSS feed to get up to the date information. Unfortunately I spend far too much of my valuable time on this site. Things could be worse.

  9. - February 25, 2010

    It’s a good book and an easy read. Perfect for the bathroom 🙂

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