In the September 6, 2004 New Yorker Adam Gopnik reviewed a couple books on recent wine history.
“Remarkably, nowhere in wine writing … would a Martian learn that the first reason people drink wine is to get drunk. To read wine writing, one would think that wine is simply another luxury food, like smoked salmon or caviar or chocolate; the one idea that is banished is that it is a powerful drug, which can wash away, in a few minutes, the ability to discriminate at all. … For it is not wine that makes us happy for no reason; it is alcohol that makes us happy for no reason. Wine is what gives us a reason to let alcohol makes us happy without one. … The language of wine appreciation is there not because wine is such a special subtle challenge to our discernment but because without the elaborate language – without the idea of wine, held up and regularly polished – it would all be about the same, or taste that way. … A good fruity bottle of a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, with a pretty label and a decent story, makes us happy, and happier than that we don’t really deserve to be.”