Wine Book Club: The Science of Wine

By Kori ~ April 29th, 2009.

Wine Book ClubThank you for joining us for the April “virtual meeting” of the Wine Book Club. Many thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 who originally proposed the idea for the WBC where bloggers and wine lovers come together for book reviews and discussions after reading a selected text. When Dr. Debs announced The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass by Jamie Goode as this month’s Wine Book Club selection, I headed to our storage room once again to find the copy that I had purchased in April 2006 shortly after it was released.

Fortunately, I have a habit of highlighting, dog-earing pages, and making notes in the margins as I read a book that makes it easy for me to review and recall what I liked and didn’t like. The first thing I noticed is that I didn’t have as many pages dog-eared in this book as I normally do.

While I found this book to be a good overview of the science of making wine, it is not the easiest read. If you are in the wine business or studying for a wine certification, this book compiles some very esoteric arguments on various topics in an organized way. It is certainly nice to find all of these topics in one book rather than having to Google all over the internet. However, this book is way too complex for beginners or people who don’t really care about some of the factors that affect the taste and quality of wine; they just want to drink good wine.

Some of the topics that caught my attention and might be of interest to you:

  • The question of terroir.

“The French feel they have ownership of terroir, but in good winemaking the idea is universal.” –Charlie Melton, Barossa wine-grower

  • Climate change implications for wine.

“It appears that the currently cool-climate regions would benefit the most. If the climate warms as the models predict, then these regions will be better able to ripen the fruit and may even be able to consider other varieties that could not ripen there today.” –Dr. Gregory Jones

  • The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass by Jamie GoodeIs alcohol reduction a sin?

“Today the central debate about reverse osmosis and other high-tech wine-production innovations is not about whether they work; it is about whether winemakers will go to hell if they use them.” –Clark Smith

“There are some great old-vine vineyards in the New World that were planted in areas that are perhaps too warm for the grapes to arrive at optimal flavor/alcohol balance. One makes a better wine by picking the grapes riper and taking a little alcohol out of them than by picking them earlier.” –Randall Grahm, California winemaker

  • The effects of sulphur dioxide on wine consumers.

“ …many foodstuffs contain higher levels of sulphites than wine, with the worst offenders being dried fruits, which typically contain 1,000 ppm—about ten times the level in wine.”

  • Which wine bottle closure is best?

“There is, as yet, no perfect closure. Instead winemakers have to choose the closure that best suits their objectives. The data would seem to suggest that synthetic corks are the least effective closure….”

Author Jamie Goode, a London-based wine writer, obviously knows his stuff, but I believe that this book probably has a fairly limited audience. However, if you’d like to learn more about some of the topics I’ve mentioned, grab a copy today as this book can be a good resource.

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

For those of you who would like to read along with us in the Wine Book Club, the May selection is Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy by Sergio Esposito.


Filed under: Wine Book Club, Wine Books

Reader's Comments

  1. Dr. Debs | April 30th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks as always for participating, Kori. I must say I agreed with you on this one–a great reference book, but tough going for science-challenged types.