Photo of Rod Phillips

Rod Phillips

Professor - History of alcohol (especially wine), history of food, history of the family

Degrees:B.A. (Trent), M.A. (Otago, New Zealand), D.Phil. (University of Oxford, U.K.)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2824
Office:409 Paterson Hall

I started my career as a historian of the family with a focus on marriage breakdown and divorce. My doctoral dissertation was on divorce during the French Revolution, when divorce was first legalized in France. I later expanded my scope to the western world more broadly and researched divorce in New Zealand, the U.K., Sweden, and Norway. I still do some work on the history of the family, and I am Editor of the Journal of Family History, the journal of record in the field. 

In the late 1990s I turned to the history of wine, which has been one of my interests since I was a teenager in New Zealand. After I began teaching a course at Carleton on the history of alcohol, I broadened my scope to cover alcoholic beverages generally. More recently, I combined my French and alcohol expertise to work on the history of French wine. Adding food to the mix, I am writing a history of food in the North Atlantic world since 1000, and I am editor of a forthcoming volume on food in Early Modern Europe. 

In addition to writing on the history of alcohol, I write on modern wine. I wrote a weekly wine column for the Ottawa Citizen for 15 years and I write the wine features for the print and on-line editions of NUVO Magazine (a luxury lifestyle quarterly) as well as for specialist wine media including The World of Fine Wine (UK) and (US). I am the Canada consultant to The World Atlas of Wine, and I also judge in wine competitions in Canada, the US, Europe, and elsewhere. 

I am moderately active on the conference/lecture circuit. In 2018 I spoke at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, the annual meeting of the American Association of Wine Economists, a French history conference at the Australian National University, and gave the keynote lecture at a wine conference the Université de Bordeaux-Montaigne. In 2019 gave papers at the University of Melbourne and at three universities in Shanghai. In 2020 I gave a paper at an on-line conference on French History. 

I’m open to supervising research in various fields: the history of wine, the history of food and drink, the French Revolution, and the history of the family.

Books published

Family Breakdown in Late-Eighteenth-Century France: Divorces in Rouen, 1792-1803 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980)

Divorce in New Zealand (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981)

Putting Asunder: A History of Divorce in Western Society (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988)

Untying the Knot: Divorce in Western Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991; 6 foreign-language editions)

Society, State, and Nation in Twentieth-Century Europe (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1995)

A Short History of Wine (London: Penguin Books, 2000; New York: HarperCollins, 2001; 5 foreign-language editions)

Ontario Wine Country (Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 2006)

Alcohol: A History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014; paperback, 2019; Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2015; 4 other foreign-language and international editions)

French Wine: A History (Sacramento: University of California Press, 2016; paperback, 2020)

9000 Years of Wine: A World History (Vancouver: Whitecap Books, Spring 2017)

The Wines of Canada (Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas “Classic Wine Library,” 2017)

Wine: A Social and Cultural History of the Drink that Changed our Lives (Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas, 2018)

Books forthcoming

(Editor) Food in Early Modern Europe (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2022)

(with Jean Bart) Un curé dans les vignes. François Delachère et les vins de Volnay au XVIIIe siècle (Dijon: Éditions Universitaires de Dijon, forthcoming 2022)

I have also published many articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, and I have written the texts for three TED-Ed animated shorts, including this one on Prohibition: