Book Review: Techniques in Home Winemaking
December 3, 2010
Pambianchi is the technical editor and writer for WineMaker Magazine. Because of this, I was able to hear him give a presentation on “Troubleshooting Your Wine” at the 2010 WineMaker Magazine Conference. His website has lots of technical downloads and other information.
This is a thick book at nearly 500 pages. It goes though how to make wine as an overview, winemaking equipment and sanitation, analysis and control of wine, the technical details of making wine, how to clarify wine, stabilize wine, blending wine, aging in oak barrels, bottling, making pinot noir, making sparkling wine, making port wine, making icewine, troubleshooting problems, and building a wine cellar. The appendixes have conversions between measurement systems, sugar content and potential alcohol, winemaking log chart, guidelines for common chemicals, and a bibliography.
What I really like about this book is that it is a how to and laboratory book all in one. For example, he talks about what malolactic fermentation is, how it works (but without pictures), selecting a culture to do MLF, preparing for MLF, timing the MLF, conducting MLF, testing for MLF completion by paper chromatography, and inhibiting MLF. I would say that is pretty comprehensive, so this is sort of my go to technical book.
There are a few odd things here and there that don’t jive. For instance, he has a sugar to potential alcohol chart in the back of the book. When I compare it to any other chart I have found, it turns out low. Even though I consider him an expert, this makes me sometimes question some other math, but not the techniques.
The thing that annoys me about this book is that Pambianchi mentions sometimes that doing a particular technique is prohibited by commercial wineries, but amateurs, who are unregulated, are allowed it do that practice. This leaves me wondering, “Well, how do the professionals do it then?” He doesn’t explain.
Despite those two short comings, this is still a book for any wine maker.