Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The science of wine

Original edition cover.

Current edition.

Being a scientist by training, I would naturally be attracted to the scientific side of things, although I do believe that viniculture is as much an art as it is a science, perhaps even with a little witchcraft thrown in. Maybe like in the book Blessed are the Cheesemakers we should be humming the Sound of Music to the grapevines to make them grow luscious grapes.

Anyway, this title -- The science of wine -- by Jamie Goode caught my attention.  Curiously, the first edition has a subtitle FROM VINE TO GLASS. The second edition in the photo has the same subtitle and was published by University of California Press and is being sold for $39.95.  The copy I purchased has the title Wine Science and subtitle The Application of Science in Winemaking. Personally, I prefer the simpler from vine to glass which says it all without redundancy. The publisher's name, Mitchell Beazley, also appears on the cover of my edition, which is confusing as I have never heard of that imprint and it looked just like another author's name. That version is available on amazon for $23-26 and shows it being shipped from the UK. Not to be confused with the Wine Science, Fourth Edition: Principles and Applications (Food Science and Technology) July 7, 2014 by Ronald S. Jackson which sells for $122.45 in print and $77 in Kindle. All versions are hardcover. Confused yet? I was but it is worth the effort.
Current edition, different publisher?

The fact that the second edition was released April 1, 2014 makes it that much more interesting to me, as it's not only April Fool's Day it is my namesake day. Yes, St. Daria's Day is April 1. But I wonder why they changed the title. The edition I have shows up with a publication date of April 10, 2014.  So what made them change it between April 1 and April 10? It may be that one is published in the US and the other in the UK but why would both be available in both places. And why change it to a title that is already in use. Plus the author released a Kindle only supplement which has the chapters that were cut from the second edition but appeared in the first edition. Among them was the chapter on the effect of global warming, so naturally I had to buy that, too.

But anyway, I seriously digressed.  The book is divided into three sections. In the Vineyard, In the Winery, and Our Interaction with Wine.  That makes a lot of sense. As I sat down to read it, I was pleasantly surprised by the author's style. It is not overly scientific but rather quite readable.  The author's own knowledge and experience is supplemented by analysis of the most current scientific literature and interpretation by experts in each of the fields. It is a rich mixture of fact and opinion that he presents the reader.

The first part covers everything that affects the vineyard from the biology of the plants, terroir in terms of soil structure and climate, the interaction between roots and elements in the soil, key diseases and pests, different theories of plant management, biodynamics in the vineyard, moisture control and stress, and trellis systems, pruning and canopy management.  In a short 87 pages, I felt the author had imparted a wealth of knowledge that would serve us well in growing the grapes for the first few years.  I will come back to this book time and again.