The Makers of American Wine: A Record of Two Hundred Years

By Thomas Pinney | Go to book overview

TEN
Maynard Amerine
APPLIED SCIENCE

If you don’t know biochemistry,
you don’t know anything about wine.

MAYNARD AMERINE, 1985


SCIENCE OR ART?

Is wine making an art or a science? The question is a false one, since the answer is obviously “Both.” But people still argue endlessly about it. It can hardly be a science, one side says, since wine has been made for thousands of years, and most of those years were, by any definition, prescientific. “Ah, but what kind of wine was it?” the other side asks. Spoiled wine, adulterated wine, flavored wine, doctored wine, watered wine, undrinkable wine. Only since scientific understanding has been brought to the vineyard and the winery has the world had a reliable supply of sound wine. If I had to choose, I, for one, would choose to put the scientists in charge of the business, just because they could certainly provide that reliable supply of sound wine. But of course one does not have to choose. The scientists contribute their indispensable part, and the individual artist remains free to do things in his or her own way.


EARLY RESEARCH IN CALIFORNIA

In California the beginnings of scientific study occurred in 1880, when the legislature passed a bill to support research in viticulture and enology. The immediate motive for this act was the threat of phylloxera, first discovered in California in 1873 and, by 1880, a danger that could no longer be ignored. The act created a public agency called the Board of State Viticultural

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