Jonathan Nossiter, acclaimed filmmaker and former sommelier, had his first taste of wine at the age of three in Paris, from his father’s fingertip. For him, wine is “memory in its most liquid and dynamic form,” as essential an expression of culture as cinema, books, baseball, painting, even sex. With great wit and passion, he celebrates wine and its enthusiasts—and defends both from those who tell us what to drink and how to think about it.
In Liquid Memory, the American expatriate investigates the infinite mysteries of terroir, the historical sense of place that makes wine a living, thrilling expression of cultural identity that can stretch back centuries. The book is a deliriously joyful master class in locating the soul of a wine, and in learning to trust your own palate and desires. Nossiter, who has already created an uproar in the world of wine with his film Mondovino, arms us against the tyranny of snobs, critics, and charlatans who would prevent us from taking part in what should be a gloriously democratic bacchanalia.
From the sacred wine shops and three-star restaurants of Paris to the biodynamic vineyards of Burgundy, from the hipster bistros of New York to film locations in Rio de Janeiro and Athens, this singular journey invites us to consider how power, misused, can sometimes mask an absence of taste—and how our own personal taste can combat power in any sphere. A controversial bestseller in Europe, Liquid Memory is sure to rile the establishment, enlighten the thirsty, and reveal the inner life of the world’s most mysterious, contradictory, and jubilatory drink.
“In the two-thousand-year history of writings on food and wine, Liquid Memory is unique. It is not for everyone. It is for people who find not just liquid in a bottle, but an excess of meaning. Who find history and identity. Who find their fathers and origins of civilization and Chet Baker and black-and-white movies and inexplicable stirrings of love. Frankly this book is for people who have no idea why they are so affected. But they will understand more once they have finished reading—in all likelihood, in one sitting. In fact, I’ll put myself right out there and declare that this is the greatest book ever written about wine and that I cannot imagine coming across a more resonating or important one before I die. Samuel Beckett meets Martin Scorsese meets Malcolm Lowry meets dirt meets a poet named Fermentation. Bravo, Nossiter!” —Bill Buford, author of Heat
“In Jonathan Nossiter’s Liquid Memory, there is a passionate, urgent message for all of us: our individuality, our pleasure, and our power all grow out of our own personal taste. Nossiter gives readers the courage to sidestep the arbiters of taste and write their own definition of the sublime.” —Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
“Liquid Memory is a call to the barricades. Jonathan Nossiter makes a heartfelt plea for all of us who love wine to defend our right to enjoy its pleasures on our personal terms. Full of ideas and opinions, all leavened by the most sympathetic of recollections of idiosyncratic wines, friends, and family, this book will surely stimulate both novice and expert alike to reclaim our individual right to choose.” —Neal I. Rosenthal, author of Reflections of a Wine Merchant