Book Review: The Art and Science of Wine

By John ~ May 7th, 2010.

When I was studying for my Certified Specialist of Wine exam, I found The Art and Science of Wine to be a valuable resource. World famous UK wine writer Hugh Johnson and Australian winemaker/writer/wine critic James Halliday have done a great job of exploring and explaining how both art and science are involved in the winemaking process.

The book is divided into three major sections that they call “In the Vineyard”, “In the Winery”, and “In the Bottle”. One of the main take-aways I got from the book was that while terroir makes character, people make quality.

“Given a terroir that has proved its ability to make fine and distinctive wine, the degree of intervention by the winemaker determines how clearly the terroir will be expressed.”

Another key point the authors make is that:

“…even the French are attracted by the tremendous freedom from the restrictions of terroir the New World enjoys. …. The United States has its approved viticultural areas (AVAs): regions that are supposed to have special viticultural and oenological characteristics. However, …there is no stipulation as to which varieties may be planted. Nor are pruning methods or yields prescribed.”

The chapters on the trend towards more mechanization in the vineyard and new scientific tools in the winery were especially interesting, informative, and enlightening, no matter your view on the subjects. There is also a wealth of information on the winemaking processes for different types of wine as well as for different wine regions of the world. And finally, the chapter on “The Manipulation of Wine” includes an examination of several very controversial procedures such as reverse osmosis and micro-oxygenation, which makes for interesting and provocative reading.

The bottom line: The Art and Science of Wine contains a wealth of information presented in an easily understandable format. The layout allows you to easily find what interests you and skip what doesn’t. So if you want to learn more about how wine is made, I encourage you to pick up a copy today.

Have you already read The Art and Science of Wine? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.

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