Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Pinot Grigio

I really like the flavor of the unfermented Pinot Grigio juice. As you can see this is a light red grape, and one presses it immediately after crushing to get a white wine. The idea is to avoid the plant-y flavor and get a fruitier and flowery flavor.

I bought 108 lb of Lodi Gold California Pinot Grigio. There are about nine gallons of juice. These grapes had were in good shape as you see in the picture, but also had some with mold, and a few rotten.

 I tried to pick out the rotten ones, not being a fan of the so-called noble rot. I mean the actual rot, not the rock band.  My grandfather used to leave these in with the idea that the natural yeast will improve the flavor. He was probably too cheap to through them away. My Dad usually left them in as well.


108 lb grapes
45 g Yeast Energizer
12 g pectic enzyme
1 packet Red Star Premier Curvee'

The refractive index of the juice was 26 degrees Brix and the density was 1.11 g/ml.  According to Pambianchi's Techniques in Home Winemaking, it has 29% sugar content. I am always surprised, and pleased when the two techniques agree.

A sugar content of 29% which will produce a 13.7% ethanol content. This is a little high for a white wine, but the juice does not seem over concentrated by taste, and I am afraid to dilute the flavor by adding water.

There were dried grapes in with the crushed grapes. It would have had higher sugar content if I'd try to make it as a Rose'.

Now the wine is fermenting in the primary fermenter. I hope to transfer to glass in five or six days. I have taken to following the progression of fermentation by flavor. It is much easier than watching the refractive index change, and I don

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2011 Zinfandel Wine

I made the Merlot last week, and this week I wanted to make white wine, but here were not any good grapes at the store, so I came home with Zinfandel. The grapes looked good. They were pretty juicy, but there a few dried clumps. Juicy grapes typically means a little higher yield, but with lower overall sugar content. My objective is to get the grapiest flavor that I can get. All else can be added later!


Here is the wine crate. Notice there
is some woman's photo on the box. Who is she?
I expect she is a modern day wine nymph, but
really she must be the owner's daughter.
108 lb Zinfandel grapes (Beauty of the Valley, California)
12 g yeast energizer
[no sodium bisulfide this time]
2.5 lb sugar (heated with juice until dissolved)
1 packet Red Star Pasteur Red

I made the juice, and measured the density and the refractive index. I looked them up in Techniques for Home Winemaking, and happily, magically they agreed with each other. The density was 1.094 g/ml and the refractive index was 22.4 degrees BRIX (a scale calibrated to sucrose content in water,) and these correspond to 24% sugar which will make 11.7% ethanol.   To get to 13% alcohol, in the 8.25 gallons of juice that I have, I added 2.5 pounds of sugar. 

I let the juice sit until it came to room temperature about ten hours, and then I sprinkled the yeast on top. I decided not to add the bisulfite because the grapes looked pretty free from rot, and I did not want to inhibit the regular fermentation.

The next evening the fermentation was going pretty fast.

7 Days Later
I pressed the juice and got 32 liters of wine. The wine continued to ferment pretty fast.

I took 8 liters of the Zinfandel and mixed with the overage on the Merlot to make a blend. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 Merlot Wine

The 2011 Merlot grapes are small and grapy. I got three 36 pound cases at California Wine Grapes on Fort Street, and crushed them, pulling most of the stems out by hand.

The density is 1.107 g/ml which and a BRIX refractive index of 24.8 degrees. (One degree Brix is the refractive index for 1% (w/v) of sucrose/water.) This should be 13 to 13.5 alcohol, which is pretty good.

2011 Merlot Recipe

108 lb Merlot Grapes (DePalma; Ripon, CA)
6 g bisulfite (added after crushing to kill wild yeast)
5 g yeast energizer (added the next morning)
1 packet Red Star Montrachet (sprinkled on top, then stirred after ten minutes)

Right now the grape juice is very very sweet and very grape-y too.


The juice fermented quickly in the primary fermenter and I pressed it after six days. I got 29 liters of wine. The wine in the carboy is not emitting carbon dioxide fast at all. When I taste it, it seems pretty low sugar, but I tend to think the yeast died some how. I added extra yeast nutrient.  ( I intend to rack the wine, and then add some Champagne yeast to restart it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cherry, What Am I Tasting?

I  was wondering what Cherries tasted like, and I found this article  by Nui and several other Chinese authors.  They linked the molecules to the flavor profile. 29 compounds contribute to the taste including slightly disturbing chemicals like benzaldehyde.

Fifty-one odor-active (OA) compounds were detected by GC–O and quantified by GC–MS, and 45 of them were identified. Twenty-nine OA compounds having more than 50% detection frequency were selected as specific compounds correlated to sensory attributes by partial least squares regression (PLSR).

   The correlation result showed ethyl 2-methyl propionate, 2,3-butanedione, ethyl butyrate, ethyl pentanoate, 3-methyl-1-butanol, ethyl hexanoate, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, ethyl lactate, 1-hexanol, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, ethyl hydroxyacetate, acetic acid, furfural, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, benzaldehyde, propanoic acid, butanoic acid, guaiacol, beta-citronellol, hexanoic acid, 2-methoxy-4-methylphenol, 2-ethyl-3-hydroxy-4H-pyran-4-one, ethyl cinnamate, 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol were typical OA compounds, which covaried with characteristic aroma of cherry wines.

My 2011 continues to ferment, and ferment quickly. It has been 48 hours and the sweetness is diminishing. The cherry fragrance is still there. The alcohol is still to faint to pick out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Cherry Wine

It's Summer, and I drove out to find cherries, hopefully Michigan cherries for my cherry wine.   My three year old cherry tree produced about five cherries this year.

I could have driven to Western Michigan, but that would have taken all weekend. Instead, I went to the Eastern Market, which is a local Farmer's Market in Detroit. Cherries were hard to find, but I came home with six pounds of tart Michigan Cherries. I also got some California Black Cherries there and at the grocery. I also got ten pounds of frozen tart cherries from GFS -- these are pitted, so much easier to use.

 I bought the different cherries so that I would get a "broader" flavor profile. I think that the Black Cherries are the best though. They seem to be the most flavorful.

I boiled the cherries, and added eighteen pounds of sugar.

2011 Cherry Wine Recipe

Michigan tart cherries       6 lb
Black Cherries                  24 lb
Rainer Cherries                   5 lb
Frozen Tart Cherries          10 lb
TOTAL                             45 lb, all boiled than then broken open with a potato masher
Sugar                                  18 lb, added as syrup
Water to make                      8 gallons; density is 1.14, 1.33 Brix - perhaps too high
Pectic enzyme                      6 g
Yeast Energizer                    3 g
Red Star Curvee                   1 packet

This is a little more sugar and cherry concentration than last year's 36 pounds of cherries. The plan is to make a desert wine, and that is why it is so strong.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wine Label Art

I have bought bottles wine that I did not want to open because the bottle looks so nice.  Some of the best commercial art is from wine labels; here is one that I liked so much I took a picture of.

The picture does not capture how cool the bottle looked in the store and at home.

This is the problem with wine label art, it only looks good on the bottle. There are people who save bottles, but that seems a little weird to me.

Matthew Latkiewicz made a clever post that was in NY Mag about wine labels.

I liked way he categorized labels from French to Clever to Graphic Design Student. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2010 Cherry Wine

The 2010 Cherry Wine has been trouble. I missed the local cherry season, and had to buy frozen cherries. First the wine tasted like cough syrup, and then it was just flavorless.

I dosed it with sugar and yeast, and got the alcohol level up. Time worked it's magic, and it is now definitely drinkable. The cherry flavor is back, and a little more alcohol seems to fix multiple flaws.

I went to the local beer store and got some 1/2 liter flip-top bottles.  I bottled out a case or 6 liters of cherry wine. I put in 3 grams of corn sugar in each. The extra sugar is fermented in to carbon dioxide and the wine will be fizzy. Supposedly corn sugar is easier for the yeast to use.

The fizziness should compensate for the any deficiencies in the wine, since everyone likes bubbles.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2010 Muscato 2 -- from Juice

Muscato is such a useful wine because it blends well with other wines that have problems - -and I have a few batches that I am worried about.  If I don't need it for blending, Muscato is drinkable by itself too. Plus my DW likes it. Muscato is also called Muscat or Muscatel.

I bought a pail of refrigerated juice that had been packed in September, so it had partially fermented. In fact it was under pressure since the pressure-relieve valve in the lid wasn't working right.

See my Cabernet Sauvignon post for more about making wine from juice.

Recipe for Muscato Wine from Juice 

20 L of Muscato Juice (Regina)
1 lb (454 g) sugar
2.5 g Yeast Energizer

(Using the wild yeast already in the juice -- no added yeast.)


I added the sugar by heating the juice on the stove and stirring in the sugar. I added the sugar just to be on the safe side.  The juice just tasted barely sweet and did not seem that alcoholic -- although I am sure it was more alcoholic than it seemed.

This was really easy, and I am not worried about this wine. I am pretty sure that this batch is going to turn out OK.


Update March 26, 2011
The wine still has not clarified, and never bubbled very hard. It is slightly sweet, but the flavor is good. I am concerned that the wild yeast did not take the fermentation far enough -- nonetheless the fruity flavor of the Muscato will still deliver a good beverage.


Update September 17, 2011
The wine has improved a great deal. It has a little planty or viney flavor that I don't like much, but it is not objectionable. I think it should be blended with a red wine like the 2010 Zinfandel.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon 2 from Juice

I had some time on my hands, and I my wine shelf was drying up, so I bought some grape juice.

This was refrigerated juice not sterilized concentrate. Interestingly, pails of juice ferment as they age, and it has been four months. The juice is just barely sweet, and has a noticable alcohol content -- as if I had been fermenting fresh grape juice for about three days at room temp.


6 gallons (23 L) of Cabernet Sauvignon juice (Regina)
3L Muscato juice (Regina)
600 g sugar (1.5 lb)
3g Yeast Energizer

The juice was already fermenting with half an inch of yeast at the bottom. I allowed it to warm. The density was about 1, although it was cooler than room temperature -- either way it was not going to be possible to get a good reading on the original sugar content to project the final alcohol content. I tasted it, and decided to add sugar -- largely because I added it last time I made Cabernet Sauvignon I added sugar.

The lady at the California Wine Grapes Store  insisted that I should just let the wild yeast fermentation finish, and not put new yeast in on top. She said it might be impossible to restart the fermentation once I killed the wild yeast.
I added the yeast Energizer since the batch is fermenting with wild yeast, so it might need "energizing."

I added the Muscato because I find Cab to lack grapy flavor, and the Muscato has plenty of fruitiness. I also needed to top off the demijohn.

As the juice is warming it is continuing to ferment.  I am sure this wine will be drinkable, but I don't know if it going to be the quality that I want.


March 26, 2011 Update

I just left the wild yeast, and it may not have been the right decision. It has been six weeks and the wine is still sweet. I stirred in a packet of Champagne yeast. I also racked it.

I am worried about this one.

May 13, 2012 Update

The wine fermentation was slow and the wine was not that flavorful. I added a lot of oak chips, some acid-x, to reduce sourness. In the end I blended it with the Muscat from juice, and the result was much fruiter, and pretty good. Currently my favorite summer wine.