Sunday, October 18, 2009

The 2009 Zinfandel



One of the big disappointments from the 2009 Merlot is that there is only 28 liters of it or about 8 gallons. I really wanted twelve gallons.  As I was making the Riesling, I had the problem of being about 1 gallon of juice short to fill the demijohn. I could have put commercial wine in, but I wanted it to be more homemade.
I devised the idea of buying a case of Riesling grapes, topping off the Riesling demijohn, and then mixing the rest with a new batch of red.  What a great idea!

I went to California Wine Grapes in Detroit, in the Corktown neighborhood, and they were out of Riesling. The only grape they had was Muscato, which does not have a great reputation because people typically make a sweet wino grade wine, but it is often used to blend. I am glad I got it, since it had a wonderful flavor, and the grapes were good quality.

I also bought two cases of Zinfandel from Lodi California, and one case of Old Vine Zinfandel from NAPA VALLEY no less. Actually the Napa Valley grapes were on sale because I got them on Sunday -- having decided I was still short on juice. I don't think they are much superior to the ones from Lodi.

2009 Zinfandel Wine Recipe

108 lb Zinfandel grapes (one case from Napa)
24 lb of Muscato grapes
1.5 t (5 grams) bisulfite
5 g pectic enzyme

Allow to stand until warm or overnight

Red Star Montrachet Yeast





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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 Riesling Wine


On Saturday (10-Oct) I purchased two cases of Riesling grapes. I crushed them, squeezed them, and got about 5.5 gallons. I took the pressed grapes and heated them with about three quarts of hot water, and got about 6 1/4 gallons altogether. The grape juice was sweet even after dilution at 1.11 g/ml. I did not need to add sugar.

Riesling Recipe

6 gallons of fresh squeezed Reisling grape juice from 72 pounds of grapes*
3/4 t potassium sulfite
1/2 t pectic enzyme
9 grams (3 t) yeast energizer

*I actually crushed the grapes and added the sulfite, and then pressed the grapes in the morning. No doubt this is going to give me a darker color and more tannin flavor. On the other hand, there was no other way. I understand that California style Riesling is always pressed immediately, while European vintners vary.  Notice that the Riesling grapes are not really green grapes but have some color on the skin. The juice, pictured below, is a little red. It will be interesting to see how dark it is when the pulp has settled.


I used my new fruit press. I thought I was only going to get four gallons, but with patience coxed another 1.5 gallons out.


i put this in a ten gallon plastic primary fermenter and covered it with plastic. The wine has been fermenting for 21/2 days now, and is still sweet, but distinctly alcoholic --especially the fragrance.
















This juice was from DePalma in Ripon California. I have old DePalma grape creates from when my father made wine in the 1970's and the labels are almost identical.  Having said that the grapes were pretty dirty and had a lot of leaves. I took to rinsing them with water, and the first rinse water was pretty dark.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alcohol Content of Wine

I am working on a new Riesling wine made from California grapes, and it is time to balance the sugar level and pick the alcohol content.

Most people would have no way of knowing, but my blog page that gets the most traffic is this table on alcohol content of wines that I put in months ago.

Here is a link to another one from http://www.alcoholcontents.com/wine/wine.htm.  I don't like it because it is far too vague.  The lesson is that regular white wines like Chardonnay and Riesling are at 10% for medium and 11.5% alcohol by volume for dry. Medium red wines start at 11% and go to 12%.  Dry reds are 12-14%.  Hardy deep reds can be as high as 17%. The author says that Shiraz and Syrah which are the same grape, have different alcohol content when made in the Australlian style (Shiraz) than in the French/California style (Syrah) -- not sure how believable that is.

Analytical work on wines show that the alcohol content on the label is almost always over reported. It would be smart to subtract 1% from all of them.


There are many ways to measure alcohol content, and about the simplest is distillation. Industrially, GC and a this Anton Paar flow-through densitometer are used. Jean Jacobson wrote  an in-depth segment in a monograph on Amazon. Another good link on alcohol measurement.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thin Crust Pizza


I have come across a good thin crust pizza site that I want to recommend, and come back to. It is written by Steve Zinski.

This is a thin crust dough recipe, which is not the same as above:

3/4 c water
1 3/4 c bread flour - ideally high gluten flour
1/2 t salt

1/4 t sugar
1 T yeast

Squeezing the Merlot


I picked up a little wine press on Wednesday, it is a Weston Fruit and Wine Press Model 05-0101. It is a small press with the screw running through the center of the basket -- like many of the new ones.

I pressed the 2009 Merlot wine after six days with my new wine press.

I had run a malolactic fermentation for two days I used Bacchus by Lalvin for the starter. I am still unsure of the usefulness of the malolactic. I like how Wikipedia says that it imparts "roundness" to the flavor. I think it is defensive by using Oenococcus oeni,  one protects against less flavorful bacteria.   

The press worked well, although the free run juice accounted for the vast majority of the wine. For red wine, I am not sure how much I needed the press.

I bottled up the wine in a demijohn, but I only got 7.5 gallons for 109 pounds of grapes. I had been hoping for ten gallons. I think this is going to mean a follow up batch of something, or I may do a larger batch of white wine this year -- perhaps a white zinfandel or a blend.

The fermentation ran fast; density was 1.0 by four days. Now that it is in the demijohn, I am not seeing as much bubbling on the gas trap as I'd like. I am trying not to worry.