Who made the first wine, and where? How do so many flavors and aromas come from grapes? What did ancient wine taste like, and what does the future hold for wine lovers?
Journalist Kevin Begos, a former MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow and former AP Correspondent, was inspired to seek answers to these questions after a chance encounter with an obscure vintage made near Jerusalem. He began investigating the mysterious vineyard and quickly found himself caught up in a viticultural detective story—complete with false leads, DNA evidence, and rare grapes hidden in remote valleys and plains across the world.
Begos quickly realize how little he and many other oneophiles understood the origins of wine, and set out to find the history. The result – his book, Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor & the Search for the Origins of Wine.
Among the many insights readers will learn from Begos’ extensive research and in-depth interviews:
- How scientists are decoding grape DNA (much like they did when mapping the human genome) to chart the family tree of wine.
- How DNA analysis, mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography, and other high-tech tools are helping winemakers rediscover rare native grapes and rescue them from the brink of extinction.
- How archaeobiologists in Milan brought Leonardo da Vinci’s lost vineyard back to life.
- How scientists in Israel are rediscovering native grapes of the Holy Land.
- How some wineries are creating synthetic wines—made without grapes—to replicate expensive bottles.
- Recommendations for wines that go far beyond the endless bottles of Chardonnay and Merlot found in most stores and restaurants.
Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor & the Search for the Origins of Wine chronicles Begos’s journey along the original wine routes- starting in the Caucasus Mountains, where wine was first domesticated 8,000 years ago, then down to Israel and across the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy, France, and finally to America, where vintners are transforming local wine culture by cultivating heirloom grapes with new, diverse flavors.
The combination of history and science makes for a crisp tome with an impressive finish.