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Understanding Wine Chemistry

A new book, Understanding Wine Chemistry, is the result of an international collaboration of faculty from three of the best-known wine programs in the English-speaking world. Dr David Jeffery (the University of Adelaide) and fellow authors, Professor Andrew Waterhouse (University of California Davis) and Associate Professor Gavin Sacks (Cornell University), announced their book at an August 21 release event sponsored by the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, at the 252nd American Chemical Society Meeting in Philadelphia. The book was inspired by the authors’ challenges in finding a text on wine chemistry appropriate for university-level education. Beyond filling a critical gap in the curriculum of modern enology programs, this book will also serve as an accessible reference text for scientifically trained winemakers, and provide a gateway for curious readers looking for compelling – and delicious – applications of chemistry in everyday life.

Although Understanding Wine Chemistry is not the first text on the chemistry of wine, its approach is unique – beyond providing an overview of wine production practices and important wine constituents, there is an emphasis on understanding the scope and mechanism of chemical and biochemical reactions that may occur in wine. In other words, this text interprets the diverse range of possible winemaking outcomes through the lens of fundamental chemical principles. The authors’ intention is to guide enology students, winemakers and just-curious wine lovers to rationally anticipate or interpret the effects of winemaking treatments and processes, relying on only a modest understanding of college-level chemistry.

To accomplish its objectives, Understanding Wine Chemistry is segregated into three parts.

  • Part A summarizes the compounds found in wine, their basic chemical properties and their contribution to wine stability and sensory properties. This section also considers the reactivity of different functional groups in a wine medium, and is designed to be used as a reference for subsequent sections.
  • Part B focuses on the chemical and biochemical changes that occur during wine production processes such as fermentation, aging, fining, filtration, and distillation. This section highlights how decisions made during winemaking favor or disfavor certain chemical reactions, leading to differences in wine composition. 
  • Part C presents case studies showing how knowledge of chemical principles can be harnessed to enhance wine color, aroma, flavor, balance, stability, authenticity, and quality. The third section also identifies ongoing challenges and opportunities, emphasizing that our knowledge of wine chemistry is still evolving – much like wine itself.

With backgrounds in traditional branches of chemistry (organic, analytical, physical), Waterhouse, Sacks and Jeffery feel privileged to have written a text on a subject of such historical and contemporary interest. Not only is wine chemistry a subject that inspires and challenges, it is also a wonderful vehicle for conversation, and colleagues, visitors and acquaintances often mention their love of wine and its complexity. The authors hope that Understanding Wine Chemistry helps its readers master the chemical complexity of wine – whether it’s in the cellar, in the classroom, or around the dining room table.


Understanding Wine Chemistry; ISBN 978–1-118–62780–8; $125.00/€ 113.20/£ 85.00

Available for purchase at www.wiley.com

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WID 2018