Is Wine the Source of Civilization? John Mahoney Thinks So and Here’s Why

Introduction

John J. Mahoney is a Certified Wine Educator and a Literature Professor. He is the author of eight books, including his most recent, Wine: The Source of Civilization and he is Chancellor of the Dionysian Society International, a member of the American Wine Society, a Chevalerie du Verre Galant (Knights of Cognac), President of New Jersey Club Zinfandel, Director of the Tri-State Wine College, and the voice of “Weekend Wine Tips.” A respected scholar of Shakespeare and Chaucer, he uses classic educational techniques when teaching about wine. He hosts corporate wine seminars and is presently the World Ambassador for the Grand Vin wine glass series for Chef & Sommelier.

 

Highlights

  • How did students’ questions influence the writing of Wine: The Source of Civilization?
  • What did John learn from a young Masai about grape vines in Kenya?
  • How early did man start making and drinking wine?
  • What role did legends and tales play in John’s journey of learning about the origin of wine?
  • How did John develop his theory of when man first discovered wine?
  • How did fermented wine tie into the growth of commerce in early civilizations?
  • Is there a link between historical literature and real-life events?
  • What is the connection between wine and theology?
  • How did John’s research lead to his travel to so many countries around the world?
  • What was the most surprising fact that John learned while researching his book?
  • What made John make the transition from literature professor to wine educator?
  • What is the main message of Wine: The Source of Civilisation?
  • How have John and his wife brought wine into their anniversary celebrations over the years?
  • Which was the first wine variety to be identified?
  • What is the oldest wine that John has had?
  • What is John’s favourite gadget for opening old wine bottles that may have a dry cork?
  • How can you start your own wine collection?
  • What advice would John give to his 30-year-old self about wine?
  • Who would John love to share a bottle of wine with?

 

Resources

 

Wine Reviews

Tag Me on Social

Tag me on social media if you enjoyed the episode:

 

Thirsty for more?

 

Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 21! In today’s episode, we’re chatting with the author John Mahoney who has written several books on wine, but we’ll be focusing on his latest: Is Wine the Source of Civilization?

Spoiler alert, the answer is yes. But the more interesting question is why? He has some fascinating answers, plus some of the best practical tips on enjoying wine that I’ve ever heard. One has to do with temperature … keep listening for that one towards the end of our chat. Enjoy!

 

You also can watch the video interview with John that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes pictures and questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.

 

Here are my takeaways from this discussion:

  1. I admire John’s deep curiosity about wine, and how it was his students’ questions that became the basis for his latest book. He’s so adept at taking their questions, such as Sir John Falstaff’s sack or sherry, and weaving it into the context of the humanities. I’ve always believed that you could do a liberal arts degree with wine as the central hub, as it connects to literature, art, history, geography, commerce and other fields.
  2. It surprised me that wine is much older than we thought, as old as 8,000 years or just after the last Ice Age. That makes sense given that grape juice is prone to spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast in the air.
  3. I loved his story about noticing small things like the direction in which the vines curve around the trellis the way fluids circle down the drain depending on your hemisphere.
  4. I also loved the point that the Romans, who were famous for making wine and introducing it to other nations that they conquered, actually learned about ageing wine from the Egyptians. This also reminds me of the sacred geometry and the pyramids that we discussed with vegan winemaker Ezra Cipes on episode 9. Check that out if you missed it.
  5. John gives us one of the best tips ever for appreciating wine: try two glasses of the same wine side by side, one at room temperature and the other fridge cold. It makes a world of difference in terms of the aromas and flavours you’ll perceive and other aspects from tannin to alcohol. Try it.
  6. Did you know that you can now listen to this podcast on your smart speaker? Just say: “Hey Google” or “Alexa — play the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast.” I’d love to chat about wine with you while you’re doing the dishes, the laundry, having breakfast, lunch or dinner … it’s always wine time.

You’ll find links to the wines we discuss, John’s books, social media links, and website as well as the gadgets he mentions and a link to the video edition of this chat so that you can see the Durant corkscrew in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/21.

What was your favourite tip or quote from this episode? Share that with me on Twitter or Facebook and tag me @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it. My podcast is easy to find, whether you search on its name Unreserved Wine Talk, or my name.

Finally, if you want to take your ability to pair wine and food to the next level, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.

My next guest on the show will be Californian winemaker Randall Graham of Bonny Doon winery who blends wit and wisdom unlike any other person in the wine world. You won’t want to miss it.

Read More

Best LCBO Wine Reviews: Vintages Ratings April 27

You can access the 119 wines that I reviewed as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches. If you are a Paid Member, you can add my wine picks to your custom shopping list with one click and access that list on your smartphone to find the stock for each wine in your closest LCBO store. You can also see my wine reviews for April 13, 2019 These are just some of the benefits of supporting out wine community as a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before […]

read more …

Read More

Why You Need to Know Malbec Truly, Madly, Deeply

Introduction Have you tried Malbec? Did you like it? Which ones are your favourites? From Argentina to France,  Malbecs are not all created equal. For me, it was an Argentine Malbec that first piqued my curiosity, leading me to start buying more. I followed that curiosity down to Argentina itself in my second book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search for the World’s Best Bargain Bottles. On this episode, in honour of World Malbec Day, I’m taking you with me on a journey to the Bodega Catana Zapata winery in Argentina to chat about all things Malbec and explore why Malbec is […]

read more …

Read More

A Game of Clones: A Journey into Croatian Wine

By Andrea Shapiro The Republic of Croatia, located in Eastern Europe is one of the oldest wine growing countries in the world, and yet is relatively unknown to the average Canadian like me. The region possesses both mediterranean and continental climates and a soil structure that travels the spectrum, from sandy to volcanic. The result is a terroir that is proficient at yielding a myriad of varietals – everything from global mainstays such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot to indigenous grapes such as Graševina, Pošip and Plavac Mali. During the Cold War, as part of The Socialist Federal Republic […]

read more …

Read More

Best LCBO Wine Reviews: Vintages Ratings April 13

You can access the 123 wines that I reviewed as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches. If you are a Paid Member, you can add my wine picks to your custom shopping list with one click and access that list on your smartphone to find the stock for each wine in your closest LCBO store. You can also see my wine reviews for March 30, 2019 These are just some of the benefits of supporting out wine community as a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before […]

read more …

Read More

How to Become the World’s Best Sommelier with Arvid Rosengren

Introduction Arvid Rosengren is one of the most merited sommeliers in the world, holding a range of competition wins and titles, the crowning achievement being the 2016 A.S.I. Best Sommelier of the World, a competition held every three years for candidates representing sixty countries. It tests theoretical knowledge, blind tastings of various beverages and practical service skills. Born and raised in the south of Sweden, Arvid initially studied Nanotechnology Engineering but figured out half-way through that working with his true passion – food and wine – would be preferable to wearing a lab coat. After a brief time in Stockholm […]

read more …

Read More

Willamette Valley, Oregon – Your Next Wine Destination. Five hidden-gem boutique wineries to visit in the Willamette Valley.

by Rebecca Meir Liebman Unlike much-visited Chianti, Bordeaux, or Napa, the Willamette Valley is yet to be discovered by wine tourists. Odd, since this upcoming region has everything one could look for on vacation: beautiful views, quality wines, and fascinating, welcoming people. Within this charming region of 530 wineries, the vast majority are family owned and small-scale, producing less than 5,000 cases a year. In fact, 70% of the wineries in all of Oregon produce fewer than 5,000 cases per year. The vast majority of Oregon’s wineries are not part of big corporations, where the owner is absent or might live […]

read more …

Read More

Wine and Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Atkins, South Beach and Other Diets (Does Wine Make You Fat?)

Introduction Does wine make you fat? Can you drink wine while you’re on a diet? What about diets like paleo, keto, South Beach, Atkins and gluten-free? In recent years some winemakers have started producing or re-labelling low-carb and low-calorie wines that cater to or many and varied special diets. Are they really worth it or is it just a fad? That’s exactly what we’re going to dive into this week as we explore how our bodies process alcohol, the surprising statistics about weight gain and wine and whether you should buy a bottle of low-carb wine on your next trip […]

read more …

Read More

Best LCBO Wine Reviews: Vintages Ratings March 30

You can access the 93 wines that I reviewed as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches. If you are a Paid Member, you can add my wine picks to your custom shopping list with one click and access that list on your smartphone to find the stock for each wine in your closest LCBO store. You can also see my wine reviews for March 16, 2019 These are just some of the benefits of supporting out wine community as a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before […]

read more …

Read More

Organic and Biodynamic Wine with Thomas Bachelder

Introduction Thomas Bachelder is a Canadian winemaking superstar on a mission when it comes to cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. After studying in France and having a successful winemaking career in Canada, Thomas started his own label where not only does he make wine in Ontario, but he also has vineyards in Burgundy and Oregon. The Bachelder project started with the 2009 vintage with the three terroirs series: Three regions; Three wines. As he describes it, the hands, techniques and the palates remain the same, only the terroirs change.   Highlights When did Thomas realize he wanted to make wine? […]

read more …

Read More