Books on making wine or cider

December 15, 2009

I was on my honeymoon when I started reading about how to make cider. I used to live in a little studio just blocks away from a library. I found that going to the library was free entertainment, and I didn’t have to worry about storing the books that I might never read again. Now I own my house, and I still go to the library to check out books, but sometimes it is to “test drive” a book. I got my hands on every cider and wine making book I could, and then I determined if it was worthy of me purchasing it, or continue to check it out.

Turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of books written about making cider, and I pretty much ended up purchasing near all of them, including:

  • Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider, Third Edition by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols
  • Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own, Second Edition by Ben Watson
  • Real Cidermaking on a Small Scale by Michael Pooley and John Lomax
  • Craft Cider Making by Andrew Lea

I have to say out of those books, I tend to use Craft Cider Making by Andrew Lea the most. Some of that is because I accidentally stumbled on a cider group based out of the UK which Andrew is very much a part of, so I’ve had opportunities to chat with Andrew. However, even Andrew admits that the biggest flaw of his book was that the publisher did not put an index in it, but his website seems to kind of make up for the flaw.

I’ll admit, the process of making cider really didn’t click until I probably read my first wine book. I think it was because it was more tangible. The Encycolpedia of Home Winemaking – Fermentation and Winemaking Methods by Pierre Drapeau and Andre Vanasse (translated into English) had some flow charts of how to make different styles of wine (sparkling or still) out of different materials (grapes, juice, wine concentrate kits, etc). That’s when it clicked. I haven’t bought this book yet as some of the reviews on Amazon weren’t very impressed with this book for advanced users, and I was afraid I would outgrow it very quickly. Our local beer and wine supply store uses Home Wine Making Step by Step by Jon Iverson, which I put on my Christmas list. There are many more books on making grape wines that I barely even glanced at.

I did buy The Joy of Home Wine Making by Terry A Garey, which has been my go to book for wine so far, but I’ll be trying things out of Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More by Pattie Vargas and Rich Gulling soon. There are other books out there, as I currently have from the library The Complete Meadmaker: Home Production of Honey Wine From Your First Batch to Award-Winning Fruit and Herb Variations by Ken Schramm. I also see that just this month, a book called 101 Recipes for Making Wild Wines at Home: A Step-by-step Guide to Using Herbs, Fruits, and Flowers by John Peragine was released. Thing is, I was looking at the non-grape wines and realized that there is a pretty simple formula in which one can swap ingredients, but rarely change the amounts. Once you see the pattern, one can be as creative as they want to without trying to hunt down the recipe. I have yet to try making a mead, but I did recently buy the honey I would need for it.

I realize that I should warn my readers that when I say “cider”, I mean “hard cider.” This is the British definition of the word, but Prohibition seemed to make us Americans morph the term into meaning either hard cider or sweet cider, as in something very similar to apple juice. What is the difference between sweet apple cider and apple juice? Well, sweet apple cider is unfiltered, so it is a cloudy dark brown color, where as apple juice is filtered into a clear yellow-orange colored juice.


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