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Wines. Contextualization and viticulture (Volume I)

The first volume of Wine Sapiens, a work by Bullipedia in which wine and the science of viticulture are explored and contextualised. The work, directed by Ferran Adrià and Ferran Centelles, applies the Sapiens method, developed by the elBulli team, to the world of wine.


528 pages

230 x 330 mm

Hard cover

ISBN: 978-84-09-05993-5


This work addresses the first difficulty faced by Wine Sapiens, and its principal ambition: the contextualization of wine. Answering a question as fundamental and, at the same time, as broad and ambiguous as: What is wine?


To this end, this first volume approaches the actual concept of wine from differing angles, posing numerous questions: Is wine a natural product? Is it part of an artisanal or industrial process? Is wine a drink? What role does nature play in the production of wine? Why do we drink wine? In what situations do we drink wine? …


Further, wine is compared to other beverages analysing aspects such as its production, the market for wine, its sociocultural environment, etc. And other facets of wine are examined: wine as an investment, a medicine, a stimulant, etc.


This first volume also looks at agriculture and, more particularly, viticulture, a primary business sector that undertakes its activity with the aim of obtaining and transforming products from the resources of nature. Viticulture employs agricultural technology to produce the grape,  the fundamental ingredient of wine. This work talks about the vineyards, the vine nurseries, the winegrowers, the winemakers working their own vines and the different philosophies that apply within vineyards. It places a special emphasis on the geological and climatic conditions that make the wines so different from each other, offering a world map illustrating the main classes of rock and a classification of the main vineyards worldwide in the context of the global climate.

In this section is a short summary of each chapter of the book

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Contextualization: wine as a beverage

Our subject of study is wine in the context of the fine-dining restaurant. But do we really know what we mean by the word wine? What is the provenance of the word? What has been its semantic evolution? Sapiens, the research method we use to understand knowledge, will guide our research. This chapter will question […]



Upon hearing the word wine, most people inevitably picture a convivial scene: a glass filled with a delicious liquid about to delight us with its flavour. However, what is evoked here is far from the only function and purpose of wine. – Is wine a drink? −No! −No? So what is it? Wine is a […]



The use of wine goes beyond being just a gastronomic pleasure; it is –and has always been– much more than a product to delight our palates. From the very beginning, wine has been used in religious rituals as an offering for deities and as a magic potion. Much closer to the present day than we […]


Introduction to viticulture

To obtain a sublime wine, an environment is needed that provides succulent, quality grapes with the necessary characteristics to produce the type of wine desired. To achieve this, viticulture (from the Latin vitis -vine, and cultura -cultivation) employs its know-how and dedication in the care of the vine. This knowledge -empirical rather than scientific- has […]


The vine and its varieties

The term ampelography comes from the Greek (ámpelos -vine, and gráphos -writing), and is the science that deals with classifying wine vines in their different varieties. But why is this science so relevant? The grape variety largely defines the style of wine; a Chardonnay and a Riesling have different flavours, whilst a Pinot Noir and […]


Physiology and needs of the vine

Physiology, from the Greek (physis -nature, and logos -knowledge), is the science that studies the functions performed by living beings and their organs. The vine, as a living being, has an anatomy and organs. In order to live it needs to carry out processes such as translocation, photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration. The correct development of […]



The vine has minimal nutritional and water requirements which, if not met, will have disastrous consequences for winegrowers. This is why it will take a few years for an abandoned vineyard to stop producing balanced and abundant grapes. Will the vine survive? Probably, but the quality and quantity of the harvest will decrease. Control and […]


Pests and diseases

Throughout its life, the vine receives a great deal of pressure from pests and diseases which, if left uncontrolled, cause damage to the grape and decrease the yield. These can, in very serious cases, destroy the vineyard, causing devastation. This is the case, for example, with phylloxera, a small insect that between the 19th and […]


Wine-growing soil

Geology (from the Greek guê -earth, and logos -knowledge) is the science that explains the nature of the materials that make up the earth. The relationship between soil and wine is one of the most complex issues that can, at times, border on the esoteric. Do we really understand what minerals, rocks, stones, salinity or […]


The climate: quality and risk factor

The climate is a key factor in the quality and style of the wine. It is common to hear explanations such as “this is a wine from a cold climate and, therefore, of high acidity and great freshness” or “the climatic conditions for this vintage have made it one of the best”. The climate is […]


The harvest: the elaboration of the grapes?

Grapes are an unprocessed product. However, harvesting decisions inevitably modify the taste and composition of the fruit. Would it be legitimate to consider that the winegrower is processing the grape? In fact, for any winery, the harvest is the most important period of the year. It’s the moment to pick the fruit and benefit from […]


Understanding viticulture through wines

This chapter is a compilation of the know-how presented in the book. In other words, anyone who has read the book carefully will be able to understand the actual cases presented in this section. Choosing three remarkable vineyards all producing exceptional wines, which are located at a distance of more than 20,000 km from one […]

This book, and all the work undertaken in Wine Sapiens fills a gap in the literature of wine. I think every interested party, whether amateur or professional, should acquire, read and enjoy it. Especially since it looks at everything afresh, reappraising stuff we previously took for granted, reaching its own conclusions and offering a new perspective. A unique work!


Quim Vila

The fresh-faced, but veteran sommelier of elBulli directs a team responsible for designing and writing the first six volumes of the long-awaited Bullipedia, devoted to the world of wine.