The Wandering Vine by Nina Caplan

Review published on July 11, 2018.

It is hard to know what category to put this book in as it is such a mixture of history, culture, travel, biography and food and drink writing. Wine and the Romans probably sums it up quite well, but what I enjoyed most was the way the writer evokes the atmosphere of the places she visits. It is written as a journey through countries where the Romans lived or invaded and brought their love of wine, where wine seems to be intertwined with the culture. So there are chapters on England, the wine regions of France and Italy, Sicily and Rome and in each the author explores the history and culture, visits local vineyards and tastes the wine. That makes it sound very factual and dull but the opposite is true as the quality of the writing transports you to the places and makes you feel as though you are with the writer, sipping the wine, seeing Roman sites and learning in the most pleasant way about their history.

The best bits for me were of places I’ve been to and so these brought back wonderful memories – Cordoba, where you have the layering of one culture and religion on another; Sicily and the amazing mosaics in the Roman Villa; the Pont du Gard in France; the Colosseum in Rome. The descriptions of the places I haven’t been to just made me want to pack a bag and book a ticket. I’d take the book with me for the history and I’d be paying a lot more attention now to the names on the wine labels. This is excellent travel writing and would appeal to wine buffs, armchair travellers and someone wanting a guidebook to those regions.

Not one for reading groups, but it would make a great television series.

Berwyn Peet 4/1

The Wandering Vine by Nina Caplan
Bloomsbury Continuum 9781472938442 hbk Mar 2018

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