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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2024
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Book description

With the introduction of wine to the Cape Colony, it became associated locally with social extremes: with the material trappings of privilege and taste, on the one side, and the stark realities of human bondage, on the other. By examining the history of Cape wine, Paul Nugent offers a detailed history of how, in South Africa, race has shaped patterns of consumption. The book takes us through the Liquor Act of 1928, which restricted access along racial lines, intervention to address overproduction from the 1960s, and then latterly, in the wake of the fall of the Apartheid regime, deregulation in the 1990s and South Africa's re-entry into global markets. We see how the industry struggled to embrace Black Economic Empowerment, environmental diversity and the consumer market. This book is an essential read for those interested in the history of wine, and how it intersects with both South African and global history.


‘A fascinating and ground-breaking global history of South African wines told through the failures and successes of production and consumption. This book explores the historical role of structures, protagonists and associations through the paradoxical layers of meaning contributing to define race, taste and grape. A must-read!’

Marion Demossier - University of Southampton

‘Race, Taste and the Grape is tête de cuvée (top of the vat/best of the harvest) - a ruby-red full-bodied volume with rich undertones which are set to make this a classic that will age well yet is accessible to all who wish to imbibe from Nugent’s bountiful fountain of knowledge. Race, Taste and the Grape is meticulously researched, exquisitely crafted and beautifully written in prose that hints at what could have been and betrays the armpit bouquet of racist exploitation and legislation that fostered a system of laws which facilitated cradle to grave alcohol abuse and dependency.’

Jan-Bart Gewald - Leiden University

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