Bookshelf: Amber Revolution

amber revolution book review

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Book Review: Amber Revolution

Author: Simon J. Woolf

If you’re a serious wine lover, wine history buff, natural wine enthusiast, or in the industry, then you need to get a copy of Amber Revolution.

Amber Revolution charts the contemporary rise of amber (a.k.a., orange) wines. But the book does more than this, diving deeper into the history and evolution of winemaking itself going back 8,000 years. Filled with raw, full-colored pictures, and equally colorful anecdotes, you’ll follow the paths of iconic orange winemakers from Italy, Slovenia, and Georgia.

If you want a first-hand look at the raw essence of natural winemaking, Amber Revolution is a must-read.

What Are Amber Wines?

Amber wines, also called orange wines, are white wines made with skin contact during the fermentation process. This is how red wines are traditionally made. Orange wines pre-date modern white wines by thousands of years.

The tradition has been kept alive in Georgia, northeastern Italy, and Slovenia.

Today, orange wines have a small but vocal following around the world.

Helpful Tip: Here’s a more in-depth overview of orange wine, how it’s made, and why it’s important today.

Where Is the Amber Revolution?

Woolf begins by taking you to the northeastern corner of Italy in Friuli, and Slovenia, a region that’s changed political hands through the 20th century. He sets the stage with the aftermath of world wars, reconstruction, and Soviet control of Yugoslavia.

You keep asking yourself: How did anyone manage to keep making wine?

But if wine’s taught us anything through the ages, it’s that traditions persist.

What You’ll Read About in Amber Revolution

You’ll follow the harried legacy of the region’s foremost orange winemakers who bucked tradition to bring orange wines to the world stage.

You’ll also read about the conflict that they met with wine critics and wine regulators who struggled to understand orange wine and the natural wine movement.

This is a story of perseverance and persistence – interwoven with beautiful, full-colored pictures that set the stage and bring the story to life.

Amber Revolution: Perfect for Serious Wine Lovers, Industry Professionals, History Buffs, and Natural Wine Purists

I see four target audiences for Amber revolution: serious wine lovers, industry professionals, history buffs, and natural wine purists.

  • Serious Wine Lovers: If you love everything about wine, then you’ll absolutely enjoy this book. Amber Revolution brings you in deep and wraps you in the rich story of wine.
  • Industry Professionals: If you’re selling, serving, or trading in wine, then this book is a must-read primer on orange wine. I knew something about orange wines from previous studies, but this is the ultimate deep-dive manual.
  • History Buffs: Wine always seems to be on the receiving end of politics and social upheaval. Wine books that weave together the story of wine and socio-political history are a personal favorite. If this describes you, too, then you’ll delight in Amber Revolution.
  • Natural Wine Purists: If you are a zero-intervention, all-natural wine drinker, then you’ll love Amber Revolution. It breaks down natural orange wines, natural winemaking, and misconceptions about natural wine.

Final Thoughts – Excellent, Serious Wine Book

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Target Audience:

  • Serious wine enthusiasts
  • Natural wine fanatics
  • Wine history buffs
  • Anyone in the industry

You need to have some point of reference for how wine is made and be comfortable with winemaking jargon like Brettanomyces, extended maceration, and oxidation.

To Woolf’s credit, he does an excellent job of defining winemaking terms and explaining them to a lay audience, so if you’re still working on your wine know-how, this can be an excellent opportunity to reinforce winemaking concepts.

Not Suitable For:

Wine lovers who know they like wine, but you’re never going to go to a wine shop seeking out orange wines. If your eyes glaze over if someone starts talking about history and the nuances of winemaking, then pass.

In closing, I leave you with a beautiful excerpt that captures the essence of orange wine:

The struggle of winemakers who want to discover this true identity has been a battle with modernity, a realization that the best wines don’t always come from a high-tech cellar gleaming with the latest machinery, but often from more humble properties where the priorities are clearly understood: perfect fruit, maximum respect for the land and a healthy nod to the traditions and culture of the past.

Highly recommend.

Thirsty for More?

If you’re looking for a less-serious read that’s friendly for all wine lover levels, then check out the delightful book: Red, White, and Drunk All Over – a fun, easy read.

If you’re in the trade or studying wine, then I’d recommend The Emperor of Wine, which covers the rise of Robert Parker and wine ratings. Good stuff to know.

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