Who made the first wine, and where? How do so many flavors and aromas come from grapes? What did ancient wine taste like, and what does the future hold for wine lovers? Journalist Kevin Begos, a former MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow and former AP Correspondent, was inspired to seek answers to these questions after a chance encounter with an obscure vintage made near Jerusalem. He began investigating the mysterious vineyard and quickly found himself caught up in a viticultural detective story—complete with false leads, DNA evidence, and rare grapes hidden in remote valleys and plains across the world. Begos quickly realize how little he and his audience really understood about the origins of wine and set out to find the history.
The result is Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor & the Search for the Origins of Wine, (Algonquin Books: June 12, 2018) which chronicles Begos’s journey along the original wine routes—starting in the Caucasus Mountains, where wine was first domesticated 8,000 years ago, then down to Israel and across the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy, France, and finally to America, where vintners are transforming local wine culture by cultivating heirloom grapes with new, diverse flavors.