Book Review: Wild Winemaking

Wild Winemaking:  Easy & Adventurous Recipies Going Beyond Grapes, by Richard W. Bender

Having read a couple of the author’s books on bonsai, I was intrigued to read this particular volume on winemaking, figuring it would continue his generally enjoyable writing that I had seen before.  I must say that this book is a different volume from those two, although it continues the author’s gift for colorful photography, and that you find out things about the author and his attitude towards pot that one would not expect and that this author does not approve of.  Perhaps the title should have been a bit of a warning as to how wild this would be, but although I am no oenophile, I enjoy reading about wines [1], and this book was generally enjoyable despite the fact that I am by no means as wild or as boozy as the author or his target audience for this book.  If you do like wine and are open to some unusual wine ingredients, to put it most charitably, then this book will likely be enjoyable for you.  Quite honestly, it would have never crossed my mind to make alcoholic beverages of the sorts of things this author does, but that is why he wrote the book and not me.

This book of about 250 pages is divided into two parts.  The first part is shorter, encouraging the reader to get started in making various wines by having the right equipment and supplies (1) and having an understanding of the author’s winemaking process (2).  The rest of the book consists of a wide variety of recipes on creating wine.  For the record, there are chapters on making wines out of fruit and vegetables (3) arranged in alphabetical order from apple to chokeberry to wild plum, on flower and herb wines (4) including basil, dandelion, and chamomile wine recipes, on hot pepper wines (5) mixed with everything from blood oranges to kumquats to ujukitsu cherries, and finally a few recipes on cannibis wines (6) that can make you drunk and high at the same time, all the better for those living in Colorado, Oregon, and a few other states.  Each of the recipes, moreover (and there are a lot of them) include how much the recipe makes (usually a gallon), a story about how the recipe was created by the author, the (usually short) list of ingredients, and a few steps to making the wine including how long it takes for the wine to be ready to drink (which is usually six months to a year or so).

In some ways I am probably not the ideal reader of this book.  I am not a particularly big drinker, for one, and I am far less adventurous about my drinking than the average teetotaler, even.  That said, I am far more adventurous than the average reader, and that is a benefit when reading a book like this.  It is unclear why the author does not like grape wines but appears willing to make wines of nearly everything else, but this book does a good job in portraying the author as someone deeply committed to the organic lifestyle and also someone who has a fine appreciation of herbs and is also probably involved in the weed scene to a considerable degree, seeing as he wrote about working at a dispensary at one point.  Despite our shared interest in bonsai, it is clear that the author and I are in separate circles with very different worldviews, but all the same this book is a triumph to the ways that one’s gardens (even bonsai gardens) can serve the interests of creating alcohol to drink and to share with one’s friends.  I suspect this sentiment will be well-appreciated by many readers.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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