Published on 9 March 2021
A leading Victorian writer has just won the wine equivalent of the Booker Prize.
Melbourne’s own Max Allen topped the list at the André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards in London with his new book Intoxicating: Ten Drinks that Shaped Australia. Celebrating the best of international food and drink writing, the awards highlight the must-read culinary books of the last year, and are one of the wine-writing world’s pre-eminent prizes.
In Intoxicating, Allen takes his readers on a personal journey through Australia's compelling and at times confronting drinking history. From the fermented sap of the Tasmanian cider gum to brewing a classic 1960s Australian lager, we are introduced to many of the characters who have shaped Australia's unique drinking culture.
Competing against an inspiring collection of works, Intoxicating was one of four winners in 2020. Judge and Master of Wine John Hoskins, felt the book stood out from the incredibly strong competition, remarking, “His is a book that anyone with an interest in humanity would enjoy; it is a drinks book that will stand the test of time”.
For his part, Allen said, “I’m gobsmacked, to be honest; there was such a strong field of finalists in the Drink category’’. Allen’s first book, Red + White, won the same award in 1999, gaining him a foothold in the wine-writing world early in his career. The new win makes him the first Australian writer to have won the award twice. Allen, a Melbourne Food & Wine Legend, says he is both “honoured and humbled” by the recognition.
Intoxicating: Ten Drinks that Shaped Australia, Max Allen, Thames & Hudson, maxallen.com.au
By Claire Adey
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