Picks and Pans Review: From the Book Cellar

updated 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST


Those with a greater thirst for wine lore can satisfy it in this glossy book by Hugh Johnson. The 250,000-word volume follows the same path as the Vintage TV series but is more abundant in detail and anecdote: For 2,000 years wine was the antiseptic of choice to wash wounds and purify drinking water. When Magellan set out to circumnavigate the globe, his ships carried more sherry than armaments. Another noted seaman, Sir Walter Raleigh, was less an enthusiast. He observed that wine "transformeth a man into a beast, decayeth the health, poisoneth the breath...deformeth the face, rotteth the teeth, and...maketh a man contemptible." The Prophet Mohammed clearly agreed. He banned wine consumption after one follower slapped another with a meat bone at a meal where the beverage was served. Before champagne producers had mastered the art of sparkling wine, they wore wire masks to protect themselves from their exploding wares.

Johnson spices his text with lively maps, paintings and photographs that give readers a foothold in history as well as a sense of place in this well-researched work. {Simon and Schuster, $39.95)

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