It has taken over 40 years for someone to write a better winemaking primer that C.J.J. Berry's classic "First Steps in Winemaking," and this is it. If you've never made wine before and would like to try it, this is the book for you. It is well written, rich in anecdotes, and easily understood. If you've made wine for years and think you know what you're doing, I'm willing to bet you that "The Joy of Home Winemaking" will teach you much more than a mere thing or two.
Having been brought up through the ranks, as it were, on Berry's "First Steps..." and having never found it insufficient as an instructional and recipe reference, it is almost painful to admit that someone has bettered the master. But Terry Garey clearly has.
"The Joy..." is thoughtfully divided into three sections -- beginning, intermedient and advanced winemaking. Garey presents the basics, expands upon them, and then she expands some more. Not only is her presentation progressive, it is solidly educational. Best of all, the recipes are largely fresh, varied and inviting!
"The Joy..." is much more than a primer for making wine at home. The beginner invariably expects an identifiable relationship between the color, flavor and bouquet of the raw ingredients and the finished wine. While such a relationship exists, it is not the one that beginning winemakers expect. Garey goes where few have attempted to go before. She wants you to know what you will get, and that requires more than simply adjusting your expectations.
To accomplish this, Garey explains the principles and, to some degree, the chemistry that underlies the processes at work when wine is being made. She explains flavor extraction better than most, which spices produce which qualities, which fruits and vegetables complement each other when combined in the crock, which herbs and flowers work and which don't, and so on. The result is not merely education, but firm understanding, and that is requisite to experimentation and invention. It is this that she does better than Berry, and for that alone she should be read and reread by every winemaking hobbiest.
I still highly recommend C.J.J. Berry's "First Steps in Winemaking" for the beginner, but I also highly recommend "The Joy of Home Winemaking" for the beginner and experienced alike. If you can only buy one, flip a coin. Better still, buy them both. The first is the classic. The second is destined to be.