Academic journal article American Studies

EMPIRE OF VINES: Wine Culture in America

Academic journal article American Studies

EMPIRE OF VINES: Wine Culture in America

Article excerpt

EMPIRE OF VINES: Wine Culture in America. By Erica Hannickel. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press. 2013.

Popular food histories especially those of Mark Kurlansky like Cod (1998) and Salt (2003) have reached a wide-audience of readers by focusing on a single item to unleash a rich narrative regarding the environment and the political economy of food. However, more recently, as food studies has proliferated as an academic field, so too has the quantity of scholarly publications. Like Kurlansky, Erika Hannickel has contributed a work that traces the history and cultural significance of a single food. However, her work is more in line with academic food histories like David Smith's Eating History (2009) that trace the intersection of foodways and national identity.

Hannickel provides a cultural history of wine that covers American history from the nineteenth century to the present. She emphasizes both the cultivation of the grape as wine and as myth, claiming that the "still-prolific vineyard mythos" continues to be "tangled with the ideology of national expansion and its ideological foundation in manifest destiny" (4-5). Hannickel claims that wine was never perceived as one of life's essentials to most Americans as it is to the French and Italians. Instead, she claims wine has been bound to a sense of luxury. Americans' attraction to wine has a strong relationship to a romance of the vineyard as site of a gentle cultivation of the American wilderness. In the early nineteenth century, important horticulturalists like William Robert Prince were instrumental in promoting this mythos. Prince's nursery in Flushing, New York sold seeds, plants, and vines at first to the Hudson River Valley and later across the country. …

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