I’m so thrilled that I Taste Red, my latest book, has just won an a major award. Last night, at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards, it was successful in the Wine Book of the Year category. Unfortunately, I had to fly to Canada for some work yesterday so I wasn’t there. But my good buddy Daniel Primack received it for me. [I must check that he hasn’t drunk part of the prize…]
It’s a book that was fermenting a long time, but then was written quite quickly. I had the idea for it shortly after writing Wine Science. The subject of perception has always interested me. Back in my science editor days, we held meetings and produced books from them, and one of these was on consciousness, and other was on the molecular basis of taste and smell – it was exposure to this sort of science that made me start thinking about how we perceive wine. Indeed, one of the first paid commissions I had as a wine writer was on wine and the brain. In that piece I remember introducing the wine world to the concept of super tasters/non-tasters that Professor Linda Bartoshuk was working on, and discussing the concept of multimodal perception, in which are sensory inputs are combined at a pre-conscious stage to create a unified perception. [I recently revisited the topic of individual differences in an article in Meininger’s, in which I report newer research indicating that the super taster story isn’t as important for wine tasting as some people have claimed.]
This book idea remained dormant for a while, but a couple of years ago the editor who dealt with Wine Science, Hilary Lumsden, got in touch with me seeing if I had any ideas for new books. I Taste Red got commissioned and I had four months to write it, at the end of 2016. This was a complicated time for me, but the book proved an ideal distraction, and I worked like crazy to get it together. It was a brave book, bringing together lots of fields of study, including psychology, physiology, neuroscience, linguistics and even philosophy. I really enjoyed writing it, and I’m gratified that it has been so well received.
Wine is so interesting. I can’t think of any other subject where we share our inner perceptions in such an extensive way. It can be enjoyed on so many different levels. And this book has led me to explore the nature of perception itself. What is reality? How does our experience relate to reality? Is reality something each of us creates for ourselves? What is our level of sharing of reality? These questions are pretty fundamental, and wine tasting acts to help uncover the doors of perception.