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A new edition of 'Dalí: The Wines of Gala' includes 140 of the surrealist's most compelling illustrations and his revolutionary system for categorizing wine. 

Elisabeth Sherman
October 31, 2017

In Salvador Dalí’s wine bible, The Wines of Gala (Taschen, November 28) Max Gerard, a Dalí historian, writes “ …To talk about wine is to talk about man.” This comprehensive wine book as imagined by Dalí—imbued with near-magical powers, shrouded in myth, but rooted in the evolution of human society as one of our proudest and most important creations—is an illustrated guide to the artist’s mind, full of oddities and mind-bending wonders.

The first section, written by Gerard, is dedicated to “Ten Divine Dali Wines” and breaks down ten of the important wine growing regions of the world, including California and the red wines of Bordeaux. The well-researched history of the wine from these regions is paired with myths and legends surrounding each place. For instance, in the section “The Wines of Shiraz,” Gerard recounts the tale of the Persian King Djem who rescued a bird as it was being strangled by a snake. The bird dropped some seeds at the king’s feet as it flew away, which he ordered sown. The seeds produced fruit, which would eventually be used to produce wine. Another myth speculates that wine grapes were brought to Spain by a “three-bodied” giant named Gerion.

The lyrical writing, which meanders in form between poetry, play, and history, is mixed with dozens of works by Dalí himself, some his original creations and others, like Jean-Francoise Millet’s The Angelus, are appropriated works—paintings or prints from other artists that Dali collaged, scribbled, or painted over to add to his own strange perspective to them.

In one, a giant white cat leaks red wine from his fur and mouth into the cups of nude women who resemble angels waiting below. In another, a black and white print of a woman in a transparent gown holds up a bunch of grapes; Dali cuts out her face, paints a ring of blue around her, and surrounds her with a flowing river. These fantastical sketches and paintings—which also include a skeletal horse, a re-imagining of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and a surrealist take on the coronation of a pope—make the book central to Dalí as an artist, but also provide interesting insight into how he visualized wine. 

The second section of the book, “The Ten Gala Wines,” written by Louis Orizet, delves into Dalí’s unique method of classifying wines, not by their country of origin, but rather by the wine’s emotional resonance. California wines are “Wines of Generosity,” while Chianti, Beaujolais, Muscadet, and Rioja are “Wines of Joy.” Each of these sections ends with a “Gastronomy Note” on how and when to serve each type of wine (Wines of Joy, for instance, should be served chilled, either at gatherings with friends or can be “faithful companions” during quiet nights spent at home).

Finally, Orizet provides “Advice for the Wine-Loving Gourmet,” which includes suggestions on how to present wine,  how to pair wine with food, and a “few golden rules,” which includes serving red Bordeaux wines with “feathered game and light meats,” and to never serve more than three wines within the same meal.

This remarkable collection of Dalí’s illustrations—which must be seen to be understood in all their unabashed horror and beauty—make this book a must-have for art lovers. But the impressive collection of wine history and advice on how it should be enjoyed contained alongside the artwork make it an essential companion for sommeliers and their amateur counterparts as well.

The Wines of Gala, published by Taschen, will be available on November 28 in bookstores and can be pre-ordered for $60 on Amazon.