Uncorking the Caucasus | Book Review / by Brian Yost

The Caucasus are both the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of wine production. Despite 8000 years of viticulture, there is very little written about the region and its opportunities for wine tourism. Indeed, wine travel in the Caucasus is still in its infancy.

Turkey, Armenia and Georgia are the primary regional wine producing countries. Of the three, only Georgia is currently receiving attention from wine writers. For the Love of Wine (Feiring, 2016) is perhaps the most thorough analysis, but it is presented more in the style of a memoir. Charine Tan and Matthew Horkey’s recent book, Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia may be the only book that attempts to inform the wine tourist community about the entire region.

Horkey and Tan’s book is something more than a primer. Indeed, it is arguably the most authoritative overview on the market. Whether you are intent on traveling in that area or just interested in learning more about the region, Uncorking the Caucasus is an indispensable resource.

The pages are assembled in a way that assumes nothing with regard to the reader’s understanding of wine. Horkey and Tan begin with an overview of basic wine knowledge. Experienced wine drinkers can skip the introductory material and move on to the meatier sections. Background is provided for each country with an assessment of the state of wine production, geographic orientation, indigenous varietals, local wine culture, and winemaking personalities.

From a wine tourism perspective, Uncorking the Caucasus covers most of the bases. Tips on how to visit wineries are a key element, but the discourse is interspersed with mistakes the authors made and assumptions go that awry. Armed primarily with expertise in mainstream wine regions, Horkey and Tan knew almost nothing of Asia Minor prior to their trip and this comes through in the resulting narrative. Their adventures set the stage for them to fill a void in the pantheon of wine literature.

For anyone intent on exploring this part of the world, Horkey and Tan’s book is something more than a primer. Indeed, it is arguably the most authoritative overview on the market. Whether you are intent on traveling in that area or just interested in learning more about the region, Uncorking the Caucasus is an indispensable resource.