Extreme Wine

ExtremeWine3bIn Extreme Wine, wine economist and best-selling author Mike Veseth circles the globe searching for the best, worst, cheapest, most expensive, and most over-priced wines. Mike seeks out the most outrageous wine people and places and probes the biggest wine booms and busts.

Along the way he applauds celebrity wines, tries to find wine at the movies, and discovers wines that are so scarce that they are almost invisible. Why go to such extremes? Because. Mike argues, the world of wine is growing and changing, and if you want to find out what’s really happening you can’t be afraid to step over the edge. Written with verve and appreciation for all things wine, Extreme Wine will surprise and delight readers.


You will find Extreme Wine and the other wine books by Mike Veseth at  all the usual online and brick-and-mortar locations (click on the Amazon, Books-a-Million, IndieBound, Powell’s or Barnes & Noble button to order your copy today).






  • Why are the most expensive wines not always the best and the cheapest almost never the worst?
  • Why is there sometimes only a tiny difference between the best wines and the worst ones?
  • Andy Warhol said that everyone (and everything?) would be famous for 15 minutes – so why does the fame of some wines endure for centuries?
  • What are the rarest and most ubiquitous wines and why are “$20-bill wines” almost impossible to find?
  • Sometimes it seems like celebrities ruin almost everything they touch. So why are celebrity wines sometimes excellent and even historic?
  • What have been the biggest wine booms and busts and what do they tell us about the wine business?
  • What does the world’s “oldest living wine” taste like?
  • What are the best wine movies (and why aren’t there more of them)?
  • How is fine wine like grand opera (and is that a good thing)?
  • Who are the most extreme wine people and what are the most extreme wine-tourist destinations?
  • What is the future of wine in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and why should you care?
  • In a world defined by money, media, and fame, does the eternal essence of wine endure? Or will it be tossed in the dustbin in the mobile-enabled drive-through culture of the future?
  • If you travel to the end of the earth and back in search of extreme wine experiences, what do you learn?


Table of Contents

1. X-Wines: In Vino Veritas?

2. Best and the Worst

3. The Fame Game

4. The Invisible Wine

5. Money Wine

6. Extreme Wine Booms and Busts

7. Extreme Wine People

8. Celebrity Wine

9. Extreme Wine at the Movies

10. Extreme Wine Tourism

11. Extreme Wine: The Next Generation

12. Extreme Wine Adventure

Here are some of the reviews so far …

No wine-making or wine-selling professional can afford to ignore Veseth’s blog, which illuminates wine’s often murky economics. Here he expounds on wine’s outliers, revealing those wines that have unusual histories, are particularly expensive or cheap, or are made under the most difficult conditions. Taking what could be an esoteric subject and making it compelling for any wine drinker, Veseth probes the best and worst that the world’s vineyards produce. He chronicles booms and busts, relating how Prohibition actually became a boon for vineyards as home winemakers of the era snapped up grapes by the case for cross-country shipment. Explaining the impact of international currency markets, he documents how Australia’s strong dollar has dampened exports. Veseth also details why the cheapest wines aren’t necessarily the worst nor the most expensive the best. Surprisingly, celebrities’ involvement in winemaking has produced some bottlings that transcend the media status of the vineyards’ owners. Not just for geeky wine snobs. (Booklist)

Veseth (Wine Wars), who blogs at the Wine Economist, takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the world’s wines in the titular superlatives. Readers may be familiar with French wines, but get ready to explore Canada’s Icewine (made from grapes frozen to 17 degrees Fahrenheit). These highly concentrated wines (popular in Asia) sell for prices ranging from $50 to $500. Veseth discusses how Prohibition (1920–33) impacted the wine industry (most wineries went out of business) as well as loopholes in the Volstead Act that allowed four million gallons of wine to be legally produced in 1925. The most expensive wine should be no surprise to readers: Bordeaux 2009. What’s the worst wine? Veseth writes, “That’s easy: look down!” Wines can be judged by their prices, with the cheaper wines located at the bottom of the wine shelves. Veseth asserts that celebrity wines such as those made by Yao Ming, Martha Stewart, and Paul Newman don’t necessarily harm the “real wine” industry and, in fact, encourage wine drinkers to try new varieties. VERDICT History buffs and adventurous wine drinkers are sure to find interesting tidbits about the industry and encounter new wines to hunt down. Highly recommended. (Library Journal)

This book is not for the snifferati and spitterati. It is an incredible and balanced study of the extremities of the wine world and wines of the world. Veseth even found our 600 bottles of extreme wine made in South Africa. (Emil Den Dulk, owner, De Toren Private Cellar, South Africa)

Extreme Wine is a must-read for wine lovers and people in the wine industry. It helps me to look at the industry from various unique angles. I found myself jotting down idea after idea while reading the book—of which many are now part of my plan for promoting Grace Vineyard in China. Highly recommended! (Judy Leissner, CEO, Grace Vineyard, China)

Congratulations to Mike Veseth for his outstanding book on the global wine world. It takes a very creative mind and a keen eye to see the center from the ‘extreme’ edges without distorting reality. It is a book that grabs you from the very beginning and once you start reading, you can hardly leave it before reaching its end. (Aldo Biondolillo, Tempus Alba, Argentina)

A provocative, engaging, and seriously entertaining journey covering all the vineyards under the sun. Mike Veseth provides a delightful sensory experience that will greatly increase the reader’s enjoyment of wine. (Cobus Joubert, Maison Joubert, South Africa)

Extreme Wine is as broad as it is fascinating, with Mike Veseth’s always perceptive insights into what makes the world of wine tick. His book is a must read for all of us who eat, sleep, and breathe the rich and wonderful life of wine, and it opens its hidden extremes to the novice who might otherwise wonder why we find it so immensely rewarding. (Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO, Broadbent Selections, United States)

Thanks to Mike Veseth, readers will discover and understand the philosophy that leads each producer to create his or her own wines. All our family is very proud to be considered ‘extreme wine’ people! (Giuseppe and Rafaella Bologna, owners, Braida Winery (maker of Bricco dell’Uccellone), Italy)

Extreme Wine explores the often extraordinary stuff that is being produced on the margins of the wine industry. It does so by shining a spotlight on some of the superlatives mentioned in the book’s subtitle by means of vivid, often quirky examples, such as the infamous Billionaire’s Vinegar, or the dog winery at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley. . . .Extreme Wine shows just how fascinating and dynamic the wide world of wine really is, with new appellations, wineries and winemaking techniques constantly emerging. So, if you are an explorer, the horizon is continually shifting, limitless. (Gayot’s Blog)

21 responses

  1. Hi Mike,

    Making Icewine in Canada is very extreme. Come up this January and help us pick frozen grapes in the middle of the night when temperatures go below -8C as we have for the past 29 years — and then attend our Icewine Festival and sip Icewine at our nighttime cocktail party held on the street in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Wine, food, music, snow and parka’s (fitted one’s mind you).

    • That’s a great idea, Greg. I already had Canadian Icewine on the extreme wine list, but it works as part of the wine tourism chapter, too. Many thanks!

  2. Hi Mike,
    Think this is a great idea, and excited to contribute. I’m a UPS alum now working into wine in Dundee and Portland, OR but currently in Mendoza, Argentina probing the wine world here for opportunities next harvest. The two extremes that I think of here have been the torrontes, both for the extreme of it’s varietal expression (the liar!) and the province of Salta, where it stereotypically grows. Also, Patagonian Pinot Noir…just got back from Bariloche where, by my understanding many new wineries have popped up in large part with incentive subsidies to settle the arid regions in Rio Negro province. Pretty extreme wine in an extreme region of the world! And with recent governmental policy shifting in Argentina, it looks like it may be getting more interesting. Looking forward to following these developments. Saludos!

  3. Mike-
    Please don’t ignore the largest winery in the world. The last I knew it was in Modesto California and owned by Gallo.

  4. Sounds fantastic. I suggest adding at least one chapter on the growing side of the business–extreme viticulture!

  5. Under extreme wines, you might consider those made from the American Jacquez grape variety, outlawed in France because of the supposed high level of methanol produced during its fermentation. I wrote about it once on my wine blog, The Vine Route, and got several highly passionate comments from American defenders.

  6. Don’t forget the original extreme wines – fortified wine. Port, marsala, madeira, sherry, etc. A glass of vintage port by the fire on a cold winter night is the best way to close out the day!

  7. Hi Mike, how about writing about Georgian wine? Afterall, they boast to be the world’s first country to produce wine. When reading about its tasting notes online, I am filled with amazement and curiosity about its vinification methods and its resultant taste. It will also be able to tie in with your topic about exploring how the passage of time has affected wine. I would definitely be keen to buy your book just to hear your view on that!

  8. I think Fred Franzia is a fascinating topic. A familiar hobby horse perhaps, but no doubt many passionate winos started out over bottles of 2 buck chuck in UCB dorm rooms. Definitely the extreme end of the business end. Definitely grape-a-hol.

  9. Mike- Don’t leave out the Northwest’s final frontier of wine – Idaho. The high elevation,hot days and cool nights work wonders with Merlot and Tempranillo. And we are still considered the frontier of Northwest wine according to pundits in Walla Walla and down at UC Davis! Tourism opportunities and good wine – Decent combination.

  10. Hi Mike, I can’t wait to get your book and start to learn more about your “extreme wines”.
    I’m wondering if you have thought about our italian extreme wines grown on steapy dangerous hills on the cliffs in the Cinqueterre area (Liguria region), where the only way to grow them is with using funicular; or the Nebbiolo grown on the rocky terrace on the foot of the mountains of Valtellina and Valle d’Aosta regions.Thanks!

  11. Dear Mike,
    Do not forget the extremely rare Colares wine in Portugal. Extremely rare because only a very few bottles are produced. But it is also an extreme wine because it comes from vyneards from Vitis Vinifera planted on sandy soil at the Northwest of Europe very close to the Atlantic. Vyneards that are conducted very close to the soil to be protected from sea winds and to profit from the heat of the sand to mature well since this microregion is very foggy that otherwise do not have enough sunshine for a proprer maturation.
    It have also a local Malsey that give a superb white wine and the local Ramisco that give an interesting wine after sufficient aging to smooth the tanins.

  12. Hi!
    you might want to consider the oldest winery in the american continent. madero.com.mx, in operation since 1597.
    Or the highes vineyard in the nortern hemisphere, el tunal (vinosdonleo.com)

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