Book Review: Vintage Crime by Rebecca GibbPR SAMPLE 

Vintage Crime: A Short History of Wine Fraud by Rebecca GibbRebecca Gibb is a Master of Wine and an award-winning wine journalist, who spends her knowledge of wine and researching for writing to educate us on the history of wine tampering from Roman times to the present.  Her newest book is “Vintage Crime: A Short History of Wine Fraud“, which could be a historical thriller set in Europe in the 1800’s with dastardly villains.  And you would not be far off. 

This book covers the history of wine and wine tampering.  Her thesis is that wine is currently viewed with much respect and awe, but tampering with wine in the past up till now was in some ways to make wines that people enjoy at all price levels and levels of society while benefiting the winemakers, distributors, and wine sellers.

Tampering with wines, Rebecca notes, is nothing new, and poses the question of “What is an authentic wine?”.  While we think of how wines are made with clean stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, and cultured yeasts, it was not always done that way.  In the past, besides the lack of knowledge in science and modern wine-making techniques, the world was also cooler climatically, with the issue of how to make wines from grapes that may not fully ripen.  Adding ingredients to wines to make them more palatable in the past, also had the potential of making them hazardous to our health.

As Rebecca discusses, the methods of tampering with wine, starting in Europe, caused many rules and regulations to be developed to try to stop making dangerous and less authentic wine.  The concept of terroir and the development of France’s AOCs makes more sense after reading this book. 

Besides describing how wines have been manipulated in the past, and the rules and regulations developed to counteract the illegal manipulations, Rebecca also covers more recent deceptions from the 1980’s up to the present.  We probably all remember a certain Indonesian fellow in the United States who had an amazing collection of fake Old World wines to share and sell to rich buyers.  I enjoyed reading about the modern wine controversies as well as the historical ones. 

Rebecca concludes her book by getting us to think about the authenticity of wine, whether appellation laws protect us or limit wine producers and their ability to more fully express terroir in their wines. Many wineries have dropped out of appellation systems and now make a style of wine that the winemaker envisions.  What about natural wines?

This is a well-researched book by Rebecca if you want to better understand how the wine world has evolved, the ways of making wines taste better through deceptive practices, developing appellation systems, and how/why wine frauds still occur, then this is the book to read.  I raise a toast to Rebecca, with a local, estate-grown and bottled wine, knowing the winery and winemaker, as you never know where and when the next wine scandal will occur.

Where Can I Buy This Book?

This book is available for purchase via Amazon, Indigo, and Barnes & Noble.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.