As a drinker of American wines, I was intrigued by the description for Tom Acitelli’s new jovial history book, American Wine: A Coming of Age Story. Acitelli’s book covers the humble beginnings of an American wine revolution and the small victories that earned our wines a place on the world stage.
Acitelli’s American Wine is conversational, friendly and fun to read. He covers the histories of famous names in wine history, such as the Mondavi family. After the destructive times of the Prohibition Era, California wines began a slow return to drinkable acceptability. European feelings towards wine remained more relaxed, including giving red wine mixed with water to children at meals. Combating the concepts of teetotalism, pioneers in the field of American wine returned to creating new blends of grapes, but fought against cheap mass produced wines. The real showdown occurred in 1976 when French wines and American wines were paired together in a blind taste test. The French critics agreed that the American Wine was superior, thus creating a conflict that still rages today.
One of the most fascinating sections of the American Wine discusses the role of Julia Child in bringing wine back into the American consciousness. Actors never used real booze in the movies, and yet when Julia Child began her TV appearances she would rather cheerfully cook with and drink wine on the air. While this was partially scandalizing, it also helped reduce the American take on booze to something that could be consumed with dinner instead of feared.
American Wine: A Coming of Age Story is a fascinating book and delightful to read through. Acitelli’s tone and writing style are engaging and it makes reading through the book quick, light and memorable.