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128 pages

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The fiery burn of rebellion rum, a thirst-quenching gulp of ice-cold beer, the medicinal tang of restorative bitters... What did the drinks that shaped Australia first taste like?
In search of answers, award-winning writer Max Allen takes us on a personal journey through Australia's colourful and complex drinking history, glass in hand.
We taste the fermented sap of the Tasmanian cider gum, enjoyed by Indigenous people long before European invasion, sip 'claret' and 'sherry' in the cool stone cellars of the country's oldest wineries, sample 150-year-old champagne rescued from a shipwreck and help brew an iconic 1960s Australian lager. Allen also shares recipes for historic cocktails to try at home (Blow My Skull, anyone?), introduces many of the characters from Australia's boozy history and offers a glimpse of how our drinking culture might evolve in the future.
Whatever your pleasure, Intoxicating illuminates the undeniable place alcohol has in Australia's history.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 juillet 2020
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781760761370
Langue English

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In praise of Intoxicating
[Max Allen s] talent as a wine writer has been long known. But this book reveals a highly skilled historian too, using the necks of booze bottles as rabbit holes through which to dive deep into our culture A really important reminder that we are what we drink.
-Nick Ryan, The Australian
... a powerful, moving and, quite simply, astonishing immersion into Australia. [Allen] plunges in, consumed with curiosity, full of questions, full of wonder, full of listening.
-Tamlyn Currin, for
[ Intoxicating ] will come to be known as the book that restarted a conversation about Aboriginal culture and its place in the Australian wine community.
Anthony Madigan, Australia s Wine Business Magazine
Max Allen has written a modern masterpiece, a book that will live on as a benchmark from now on, a book that everyone should read and re-read Books of this quality are rare.
Campbell Mattinson
An astonishment on every page.
Philip Adams, Late Night Live
a history, not only of alcohol, but our country.
-Declan Fry, The Sunday Age
A fascinating history of Australia s relationship with booze, and one that, thankfully, doesn t avoid the elephant in the tasting room.
-TJ Collins, The Canberra Times
steeped in history, characters, colour and of course, drinks.
- Australian Gourmet Traveller
comfortably the best book written on Australian drinks. Max has completely reimagined the history and culture of alcohol in Australia and charted a more inclusive way forward.
-Luke McCarthy, Oz Whisky Review
a refreshing and challenging discourse It taught me so much about Australia as a place and as a nation - then, now and, above all, always.
-Oz Clarke OBE
This book is full of big stories and little anecdotes, from the colonial to the contemporary Through it all there is a phenomenal amount of information on the specifics of certain types of drinks and on their cultural contexts. This is where the intoxication lies Allen is incredibly good company.
-Rachel Franks, Dictionary of Sydney

The natives had also a method, at the proper season, of grinding holes in the tree, from which the sweet juice flowed plentifully When allowed to remain any length of time, it ferments and settles into a coarse sort of wine or cider, rather intoxicating if drank to excess.
-Daniel Bunce, Australasiatic Reminiscences of Twenty-Three Years Wanderings in Tasmania and the Australias , 1857
My introduction
1 Way-a-linah: Indigenous drinks
2 Firewater: Rum and other ardent spirits
A drink to try at home: Blow My Skull
3 Peach cyder: Home brew
4 The Salthouse champagne: A taste of luxury
A drink to try at home: Sherry Cobbler
5 Seppelt Angaston Bitters: When drinking was good for you
6 1930 Dalwood cabernet: Two centuries of wine
A drink to try at home: White Lady
7 Victoria Bitter: A big cold beer
8 A flagon of McWilliam s Port: Breaking the rules
A drink to try at home: Japanese Slipper
9 Kanga Rouge: Vineyard of the Empire
10 Wine from native grapes? Drinking in the future
A drink to try at home: All-Australian Negroni
Further reading
My introduction
The wine looked like liquid sunshine in the glass. Golden, glinting, beautiful. It smelled and tasted even better. Sweet, grapey, like honey on my tongue. I gulped it down greedily.
It was the mid-1980s. I was fifteen or sixteen. Maybe a little older. All these years later, I can still remember what that wine tasted like, what the bottle felt like in my hand, the sensations of smell and flavour and vision fused in the memory. I can see the buttercup-yellow label: Brown Brothers Spatlese Lexia.
It came in a mixed case of Brown Brothers wines that a family friend had given us for Christmas. Mum wasn t that interested in the red wines or sweeter wines, and my little sister was too young to drink, so I got to try them instead. Like most teenagers, I had been experimenting enthusiastically with alcohol for years. Furtive tastes of my grandparents sherry. A sip of Mum s vermouth from the fridge. Cans of beer or quarter-bottles of vodka shared with mates in the park, bought by the oldest-looking one of us from the wine shop where we knew they didn t care we were underage.
But this Spatlese Lexia was different. It was delicious . It made me stop, it made me pay attention, it made me think about what I was drinking. And it made me curious to see what the other wines in the Brown Brothers box tasted like.
I was already fascinated by flavour. Always had been, since I was a kid. A couple of years earlier, I d even conducted my own lemonade taste test. I d seen one of those newspaper articles where they assemble a group of chefs and get them to taste and rate different brands of baked beans, or chocolate, or hot cross buns. It inspired me to go out and buy all the different kinds of lemonade I could find - I really liked lemonade - and taste them to see which one I preferred. *
This perhaps helps explain why, a decade later, I would start writing about wine and other drinks. And why still, today, every day, I m driven by the same impulse to ask the same questions. What does this drink taste like? Why does it taste that way? And what s the story behind it?

Have you ever tried an older one? asked Ross Brown. They age remarkably well. I ve got bottles going back at least thirty years in the cellar. Let s have lunch and I ll bring a couple to try. I might even have a bottle of the same wine you tasted in the 80s.
I had phoned the executive director of Brown Brothers to talk to him about the history of Spatlese Lexia. Here was a chance to revisit my epiphany wine, more than thirty-five years later. We agreed to meet at Jimmy Watson s, one of Melbourne s - Australia s - most historic wine bars.
Jimmy Watson started selling wine from his bar in Lygon Street, Carlton, in 1935. My father-in-law remembers going there in the late 1950s. He and a mate used to con Jimmy into letting them stay after six o clock closing. We d say, We don t know anything about wine, Mr Watson - can you teach us? He d pour us two glasses of red and tell us: that one s younger, that one s two years older, can you taste the difference? We got away with it a couple of times before he rumbled us.
When I first went to Watson s in the mid-1990s, Jimmy s grandsons Simon and Nigel had started working in the bar. The day my daughter was born in 1995 at the Royal Women s Hospital around the corner, I slipped out for a quick celebratory drink: Simon poured me a sherry. I ve spent many hours there since. And now here I was at Watson s again, tucking into a plate of chicken schnitzel, chips and salad as Ross Brown gently eased the cork from a bottle of 1981 Spatlese Lexia and poured us both a glass.
Ross was right. The wine had aged remarkably well. It was still fresh and luscious. Not bad for a wine that originally sold for around $2.50. Brown Brothers started making this wine in 1974, using a grape variety called muscat of Alexandria, grown in the big irrigated vineyards along the Murray River in Victoria s north-west. For most of the 20th century, the grapes were used to make sweet sherry. Ross explained that lexia is a uniquely Australian name for the variety - a bastardisation, probably, of Alexandria : it s easy to imagine an old, weather-beaten Aussie grower delivering a truckload to the winery on a hot day and describing the grapes as bloody lexias . And the other word on the label, spatlese , is German for late-harvest , a legacy of colonial Australian wine history, when white wines were often labelled generically using names of German origin such as hock and moselle .
As he pulled the corks from a couple of other old wines from the cellar - including a remarkable sweet muscat made in 1973 - Ross told me how the Spatlese Lexia was very much a product of its time. Innovations in viticulture and winemaking in the early 1970s - irrigation and machine-harvesting in the vineyard, cold-fermentation and sterile filtration in the winery - meant that fresh, clean, sweet white wines could be made cheaply and consistently. Consumers, particularly female drinkers, embraced the style: Brown Brothers was soon producing more than half a million bottles of Spatlese Lexia each vintage to satisfy demand. It became by far the company s biggest-selling brand. And it wasn t the only one to profit from lexia in the 70s and 80s. This was the era of many other popular sweet white wines based on the grape, such as Berri Estates Fruity Gordo Moselle - in 2-litre glass flagon and 4-litre bag-inbox - and Kaiser Stuhl s sparkling Summer Wine.
Like me, a lot of Australian drinkers look back on these now-unfashionable wines with great affection - in the same way younger drinkers will no doubt be similarly nostalgic one day about a currently fashionable wine made from the same grape: Brown Brothers Moscato.
Brown Brothers produced its first Moscato in 2000, using the same grape variety grown in the vineyards that had supplied fruit for the Spatlese Lexia, but picked earlier, lower in alcohol and residual sugar, fresh, spritzy, zesty. The wine was exactly the right style at exactly the right time: people were increasingly interested in Italian food and drink and were looking for lighter, less sugary, more sophisticated wines. Ross showed me a graph charting the decline in sales of Spatlese Lexia and the growth of Moscato. They cross over around the year 2005. The production of the former has since dwindled to almost nothing; the production of Moscato continues to grow, exceeding even Lexia in its heyday.
As Ross and I were finishing our schnitzels, an

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