Above all, though, I wanted to produce a book that represents a synthesis of some of the most intellectually and culturally appealing aspects of wine seen from a scientific perspective.
Science has a bad name. Frequently, scientists have been associated with the production of sterile, soulless industrial wine. I've tried to be different. In writing this book I've tried to wear two hats: those of the scientist and the wine lover. Science's contribution to wine is not just in terms of industrial wine production: it also has something to contribute to artisanal, handcrafted fine wines.
all, this is a book based around ideas. Science gives us a disciplined,
structured way of thinking that has tremendous power to uncover 'truth'.
It helps us see beyond our own prejudices and tram-lined thoughts.
Frequently, though, scientists have been arrogant and closed-minded,
refusing to acknowledge that while science has made great progress in
advancing our understanding of the world around us, there's still a lot
of uncertainty and uncharted territory.
Thus, as an honest appraisal of the science underlying viticulture and oenology, this book probably ends up posing more questions than it answers. If biodynamics works, as it seems to, then how? What is the mechanism underlying terroir? Why do low yields produce better wines, and what is so desirable about old vines? Can brettanomyces ever be positive? What about wild yeast ferments: are they a good thing, or do they represent unacceptable risk? How does the brain make sense of taste and smell? These are the sorts of questions that fascinate me, and which a scientific understanding can contribute to answering.
Wine Science has been shortlisted for the André Simon Award 2005