UCL News


Award shortlist: Kathleen Burk's wine book

20 August 2009


Dust jacket of Is This Bottle Corked? faber.co.uk/9780571241743-is-this-bottle-corked.html" target="_self">Is This Bottle Corked? The Secret Life of Wine
  • Professor Kathleen Burk
  • A book for those who enjoy drinking wine, co-written by Professor Kathleen Burk (UCL History), has been shortlisted for the Louis Roederer International Wine Book Award 2009.

    Is this Bottle Corked? The Secret Life of Wine by Kathleen Burk and Michael Bywater, published by Faber and Faber, aims to answer the really important questions about wine.

    The authors discuss what Falstaff was drinking when he called for more sack in Shakespeare's Henry IV, what was actually drunk at Plato's Symposium, and whether Clarence really did drown in a butt of Malmsey in Shakespeare's Richard III.

    Readers also discover why it is foolish to drink red wine too warm or white wine too cold, when rot is 'noble', why wine connoisseurs talk the way they do, and why drinking to forget doesn't work.

    Professor Burk said: "I have been more or less seriously interested in wine from my university days: after all, what other subject combines intellectual challenge with tasting so good? Here at UCL I act as Cellarmistress for the Professors' Dining Club, whose cellar dates from the 19th century. More recently, I helped to set up, and currently act as adviser for, the UCL Wine Society, a serious tasting group which is run by students for students. I have been writing articles on wine for some years, and eventually I decided to write a book. Of course, the subject differs from my usual one of international history, but history is certainly not absent from Is this Bottle Corked? On the other hand, it was wonderful to be forced to open a bottle of wine in aid of my research."

    The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards, sponsored by the eponymous champagne house, are given annually to a wine columnist, feature writers in various media, and the authors of a wine book. This year, the four short-listed books for the Wine Book award, besides Professor Burk's, include a book on Bordeaux by the wine writer and television presenter Oz Clarke; a wine-buyer's guide by the American wine guru, Robert Parker; and a guide to the wines of England and Wales. The winner will be announced at a banquet on 7 September.


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