Book Reviews

Book review: The History of Michigan Wines.

Wine aficionados always associate American wine with California, and yet there are many other States that produce this noble beverage

In fact, almost all oft the States except Alaska and a few others produce wine.

Michigan, a State with coasts on Lakes Huron, – Michigan and – Erie located on the same latitude (45 North) as Burgundy and Cotes du Rhone (France), and Piedmont (Italy), has been producing wine for a century-and-a-half.

Southern Michigan’s topography and the mitigating effect of large bodies of water on the climate makes it possible for grapes to ripen fully.

Winters, are although very cold, but not cold enough to kill vines. There is a range of soil types that make it possible to grow both hybrid

and vitis vinifera grape varieties.

Italian immigrants were the first to introduce viticulture in Michigan and made wine fort heir personal consumption, but started to

make commercial quantities when locals decided to support their efforts.

The authors lovingly and meticulously researched the history of winemaking in Michigan and that provides a glimpse of how the industry evolved and the damage of the prohibition inflicted upon fledgling wineries.

The chapter on grape varieties is revealing that it is worth reading the entire book, which includes popular grape varieties and now how sparkling wines are making an impression on wine drinkers. High acidity is an absolute requirement to produce pleasant sparkling wines and both chardonnay and pinot noir that are grown in the southern parts of the State fulfill it with the soil and prevailing climatic conditions.

Michiganders have a “sweet palate” and prefer off-dry and sweet wines to dry wines.

The section on AVA (American Viticultural Area) explains how rules evolved and how they are observed in theory and practice.

In the U S A AVA is granted by the TTB (Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) formerly Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) and should not be confused with the European notion of appellation.

Wineries try to cater to this taste orientation and have started producing ice wine, which find favourable demand both in the state and neighbouring jurisdictions.

In the last decade many wineries obtained distilling licences and now produce brandies using grapes, and other fruits, which grow abundantly in Michigan. Fruit brandies, with the exception of grape brandy, are mostly favoured by Europeans, but Americans are developing a taste fro them especially after an extended and heavy meal. They help digest the food.

This is a well-researched book explaining everything about Michigan’s vitivinicultural history and all its wineries past and present.

Highly informative and recommended for all interested in wine and its fabled history everywhere.

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