Monday, July 26, 2010

2009 Dry Zinfandel

2009 Zinfandel - Nice clarity and beautiful color. It is a light red
as zinfandels usually are. 
In this picture, you can't tell how how big the glass really is. 
I bottled out 3 gallons of the 2009 Zinfandel yesterday. It was strong and clear. It was fruity and not heavily tannined. I had added some oak chips but not many. Its flavor is fine, but not complicated.

The wine is still young, and I am still aging another 6 gallons of it in another carboy.

After 48 hours the flavor has changed considerably due to the oxygenation of the wine on filling. I am constantly amazed at the effect of oxygenation on flavor. Today's flavor is much matured.

Recall, the plan for this wine was to stop the fermentation of part, and make a sweet Zinfandel, but that did not work, and it all turned out dry.

Jan 2011 Update: This wine has matured well, and is quite drinkable now with an alcohol content in the 13% neighborhood. It does not have any off flavors.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2010 Cherry Wine

One of the best things last winter was discovering how Wonderful my 2009 Cherry Wine was. So this Spring I was excited to get some fresh Michigan Cherries and make more.

Sadly, the Spring was unusually warm and I missed the season. I managed to get some fresh cherries at the store, but I could not find the abundance and price that I hoped for. I settled a mixture of fresh and frozen cherries from GFS Gordon's Food Service. The GFS cherries were whole PITTED sweet cherries without sugar.

Let me say that buying cherries that are PITTED is a million times easier. It took me over an hour to remove the pits from the fresh cherries this year. Last year I gave up after a while, and fermented without removing the pits.

I have a tip on removing pits by hand. Pit removal is easier with a the needle-like prongs from a corncob holder. I could pierce the cherry and push the pit out using the prongs pretty fast. Much easier than last year, when I eventually gave up. This year I had the whole mixture de-pitted, and I could run them through my grape crusher. Ordinarily even one cherry pit would jam the grape crusher. With the grape crusher, I am sure I will get much better extraction of the cherry juice.

I started with the recipe from 2009 with a few changes notably the yeast, the yeast energizer, and the larger 6.5 gallon size.

Cherry must with the yeast broadcast on top.
 After another minute, I stirred it in. 
2010 Cherry Wine Recipe

36lb cherries (30lb frozen + 6 lb fresh)
6 gallons of water
9 bags of Lipton tea
12.5 lb of sugar
1.5 t of metabisulfite
9 g of yeast energizer
6 g of pectin enzyme
1 pack of Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast

Cherries are not very sweet and not very juicy either. One needs to add more water than you'd think. I added 11 lb of sugar to get to 1.088g/ml which would be 10.5% alcohol. I adjusted it in two steps with 50% sugar syrup to 1.102 which should give 13.5% alcohol. There should be a theoretical way to adjust the sugar content, but I don't know how fast the volume changes with each increment of dissolved sugar. One can make assumptions based on no volume change, but that under represents the addition. Once I had an adjustment, I extrapolated.

The idea of the tea is to add flavor. It seems better to use tea rather than oak chips to get a tannin flavor. The metabisulfite was added Saturday night to keep the natural yeast under control while the juice warmed to room temperature. I put the yeast energizer and yeast in on Sunday morning. I used the Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast because I had it leftover from last year's apple wine disaster (see below.)


December 30, 2010 Update

I tasted the wine and was quite disappointed. It did not have the depth of flavor I wanted. It was cherry-like, but not strongly so.

I decided to add more sugar to run the alcohol content up, and to make more of a dessert wine.

I added 2.6% by weight of regular sugar on the 25 liter batch or 660 grams (1.5 lb.)  I'll let you know how it turns out.

This is another recipe that calls for boiling.

2009 Apple Wine / Hard Cider

I never posted on my 2009 Apple Wine adventure because it ended so badly. Now that some time has past, I think I will put something up.

Jenny had been buying Hard Cider at the store lately, and wanted me to try some -- different than wanting us to try some. We went to Downriver landmark Block's Farmstand to buy 1.5 bushels of Michigan apples.

I found a kit at the local beer store, which essentially was a packet of preweighed chemicals. I liked this kit because it had a hard cider recipe, which is:

5 gallons apple juice
3.75 t acid blend
2.5 t pectic enzyme
1.25 t wine tannin
1 pack yeast
2.5 t potassium sorbate

This seems like a lot of chemicals for five gallons, but it is from a wine chemical vendor. Worse, the kit is missing the potassium sorbate.

The problem was getting the juice. I thought I could mash the apples well enough with the food processor, but that was way too slow. I eventually gave up on most of the apples, and ended up buying juice.  (After a while, most of the apples ended up in my garden's compost pit.)

The resulting juice was flavorless, but I fermented it anyway.

By Thanksgiving, I knew I did not have a tastey Hard Cider, which is after all a weak apple wine --rather I had weak flavorless liquid not good for anything.

I thought for a while I could save it by blending it with other wine,; most notably my 2009 Blueberry wine which had a strong tannin flavor, but not enough fruitiness. No way though. The Apple wine wrecks whatever it touches.

I did find something to blend it with. Fortifying it with brandy helps a lot. Fortifying with grain alcohol does not give the right flavor. Either one makes helps the wine to clear. I had given up getting to become clear, but adding the extra alcohol made it all settle to the bottom of the bottle. One can see sediment at the bottom of the bottle in the photo.

Flavoring it with honey also helps. I bottled off some Pseudo-Mead with brandy and honey that is decent.

The lesson I have learned is that only flavorful juice makes flavorful wine. The second lesson is that the main flavor in apple juice is sugar.