Wine books are more than just reading about wine.
While reading this book, I learned Kalecik Karasi (“kah-le-jeek kah-rah-suh“) is a red wine grape variety native to central Turkey. It also sounds like a bottle Daenerys Targaryen would demand. Along with honest, yet respectful opinions of the wines they tasted and reviewed, Uncorking the Caucasus is packed with practical tips and first-hand recommendations for exploring the birthplace of wine making in Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia.
Adventurous wine and knowledge seekers!
In 2015, authors Dr. Matthew Horkey and Charine Tan took a seven-month trip to explore and promote exotic wine regions. With limited to zero information to be found in regards to touring local wineries (Spoiler alert: in eastern Anatolia, the Islamic-dominant and conservative part of Turkey, they couldn’t find a winery online because it was blocked). in these lesser-known wine regions, they made their way by picking up local pamphlets and exploring on their own.
Wine Archaeology & Geography
Uncorking the Caucasus is the first of a series of wine travel books, all focused on the connection between wine, people, and place. It’s a fantastic wine guide for these native wine varieties, but more than that, it’s a history, cultural, political, and geography lesson as well. Archaeological findings link the origin of wine to present-day Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia, dating back almost 10,000 years. With this history, one might wonder why the wines from this part of the world seem to be so obscure. The book touches on how religious beliefs, laws, and lack of an appellation system or wine regulations all play a role. It’s an interesting read, even for non-wine geeks!
Wine & Travel Guide
Besides the wine and historical evidence of winemaking, each chapter contains invaluable tips for anyone who plans on traveling to these areas (or seeking unique wines to try). Details on specific location, where to stay, how to get there, where to eat, and what grape varieties are grown, are all given in bite size, easy to read chunks.
The overall theme, for me, was respect for different cultures and understanding of what makes them and their wines unique. More importantly, the people they met and learned from (each chapter also highlights a local winemaker). Uncorking the Caucasus seems to share the same philosophy as the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) mandate:
“The fundamental aim of the Organization shall be the promotion and development of tourism with a view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace and prosperity, and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”
If you’d like to learn more about the book and authors, please visit their website, Exotic Wine Travel.