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A new winemaking text has landed on my desk and is worth commenting on. The book is called "Home Winemaking – Step by Step", and is written by Jon Iverson.

The first chunk of the book deals with white wine production from fresh grapes, and is handled in a usefully chronological fashion. This is followed by red wine production methods, again arranged chronologically.

The author particularly emphasizes the dangers of exposure to air, and how to avoid them. It is also clear he has had some nasty experiences with hydrogen sulphide that have shaped some of his thinking and that the reader can benefit from.

Measurement techniques for solids such as acids and potassium metabisulphite are a bit rough and ready, and suggested SO2 levels somewhat "rule of thumb" but these won’t get you into trouble.

Acid levels, indicated as percentages, are placed ahead of pH in importance. This point of view certainly reduces the number of things a novice winemaker has to worry about. We made plenty of excellent wine back when we had little knowledge about pH much less the ability to test it.

Methods of acid adjustment and measurement, including malolactic fermentation, are well dealt with.

There is a useful chapter on making sparkling wines using the "méthode champenoise". It makes strong points about avoiding exploding bottles including careful bottle selection and the amount of sugar available for secondary fermentation. (I use even less than the suggested maximum of 16g/L – closer to 10 – 12 g/L and still get decent bubbles.)

At the back-of-the-book are useful appendices including one dealing with the production of a Raspberry Liqueur that I’m going to have to try.

This is a well thought out and organized text obviously based on considerable experience. It would be of great value to the Novice, but also contains points of view and ideas that would make it an excellent addition to the library of any experienced Winemaker.

Jon Iverson’s book is available from Stonemark Publishing, P. O. Box 687, Medford, Oregon, 97501 for $19.95 CAD or $15.95 US. Or you could email Jon at

Charles Plant