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Book Review

Gene Spaziani and Ed Halloran's The Home Winemaker's Companion :
Secrets, Recipes, and Know-How for Making 115 Great-Tasting Wines

"A valuable adjunct to any winemaker's library"

Spaziani, Gene, et al. The Home Winemaker's Companion: Secrets, Recipes, and Know-How for Making 115 Great-Tasting Wines. Storey Books, Pownal, Vermont, 2000.

(Reviewed for Amazon.com by Jack Keller, The Winemaking Home Page)

Gene Spaziani and Ed Halloran have written a book that needed to be written. The first three chapters are the obligatory "how to make wine" chapters ("Getting Started," "Essential How-Tos" and "Wine from Kits"). These have been done better by others, but the book would be incomplete without them.

The meat of this book begins with chapter 4, "Wine from Concentrates." And what a chapter it is, covering 13 specific white wine concentrates (Chenin Blanc to Vino Blanc) and 13 specific red wine concentrates (Barbera to Zinfandel), with recipes and step-by-step instructions for each (all suspiciously similar, but if the shoe fits....).

Chapter 5 is "Wine from Juices," and it does a superb job with 15 white grape juices (Chardonnay to Vidal Blanc), 15 red grape juices (Barbera to Zinfandel again, but many in between are different) and one blush.

Chapter 6, "White Wine from Grapes," covers 20 great grapes, from Aurora French-American Hybrid to Vidal Blanc French-American Hybrid, with some real classics in between. Chapter 7 is predictably "Red Wine from Grapes," covering another 20 grapes from Alicante-Bouschet to--again--Zinfandel, but the in-betweens are both classic and unusual.

Chapter 8, "Wine from Fruit," offers up 14 classic non-grape wines--from Apple to Strawberry. I found some of the ingredients thought-provoking(Epsom salts, for example, in fresh-crushed apple juice), but I found their choices of yeast less than inspiring (their heavy reliance on sweet mead yeast was a bit unimaginative, in my opinion).

Chapter 9, "Sparkling and Fortified Wines," offers a very good primer on these subjects, with more emphasis on the latter than the former. Chapter 10 is "Trouble-Shooting," but this, like the first three chapters, has been done better by others.

Criticisms aside, this book is a valuable adjunct to any winemaker's library. Where else can you find recipes for Cayuga French-American Hybrid, Lemberger red or Morio Muskat, all in the same volume? You can bet my copy is already well-thumbed....

Order Gene Spaniani's The Home Winemaker's Companion: Secrets, Recipes, and Know-How for Making 115 Great-Tasting Wines from AMAZON.COM now!

Last update was June 11th, 2001.

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