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Wine and Cheese

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Labor day weekend and a few days off to lay around the house and experiment. I dusted this post off because being a lazy weekend, I thought that I would post something fun that the whole family could enjoy. It was orginally posted in November 2005 and I have added comments (in pink) to it.

Our household has decided to switch to eating more organic and preservative free foods. In my neck of the woods, this requires us to make a lot of our own foods. One of the things that we have decided to make has been cottage cheese. It does take some time to do, but if you plan correctly, it should only take about an hour to make a batch.

Here is the process that I use to make simple cottage cheese.

Night before, put 1 gallon milk into pot with starter, (For a starter you can use cultured buttermilk since it has the enzymes needed to convert milk to cheese) cover and let it sit overnight.

Next morning, add 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water. (if you don't have calcium chloride, you can use non-idoized salt)

Add 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of water. Mix with a slow up and down motion.
Cover and let stand for 4 - 8 hours. If have used the rennet that is found in the grocery stores and have had great success. Generally, I use 1 tablet per 1 gallon.

The curd should be rather soft at this point, cut the curd and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Slowly heat the curds to 110 degrees. I usually use the lowest setting on the stove.

After the curds have reached 110 degrees maintain this temperature for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, cover and let stand for another 5 minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth, drain the curds into the colander and tie into a ball.

Dunk the ball into cold water a couple of times and then let drain for 10 minutes.

Untie the bag, place curds in a bowl and break up the pieces. Add any salt, herbs, fruit that
you desire. I have been using cumin along with caraway seeds, sort of a southwestern rye

Store covered in the refrigerator. This will keep for about a week and will make about 1 1/2
pounds of cottage chess.

Just another thing that you can enjoy with your homemade wine or beer. Make a couple of different ones and have a cheese and wine tasting party. Bottom line, just enjoy

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George Washington's Porter

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I was out at a local, historical landmark this weekend called the Jean Bonnet Tavern.  They have been selling beer and food since about 1762 and it is a cozy place for either lunch or dinner.  Being a historical place, they usually have at least one "period" type beer on tap.  I was able to enjoy a Yard's George Washington Porter.  So, I thought it would be fun to post George's original recipe.  Basically, it is just hops and molasses and I added a few things that I would do.
To Make Small Beer:

Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste.
Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot.
Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask - leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working - Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed. F for 7-10 days. Cool and consume.
Things that I would add to the recipe:
Barley Malt
Chocolate Malt
Biscuit Malt
Roasted Barley
My Recipe for George's Porter
I worked this recipe out on my Promash software.  I haven't brewed this one yet, but it will be one that I try during the fall.  This recipe makes a 3 gallon batch or about 1 case of beer.
3.5 pounds Amber liquid malt (1 can)
1 ounce Biscuit Malt
4 ounces Chocolate Malt
1 ounce Roasted Barley
4 ounces Molasses
1 ounce Cascade hops
.5 ounces Fuggles hops
Irish Moss
Original Gravity 1.050    
Hop IBU's  25
Crush the Biscuit malt, Chocolate malt, and Roasted barley and steep for about 45 minutes.  Strain and pour liquid into your brew kettle.
Add enough water to your brew kettle to make 2 gallons of liquid.  When the liquid has reached about 140 degrees, slowly begin to add the Amber malt.  Make sure you stir while adding since this will prevent scorching the malt.
Once the wort has begun to boil add the Cascade hops.  After 15 minutes of boiling, add the Fuggles hops and Irish moss and continue to boil for another 15 minutes.
After 30 minutes of boiling, begin chilling down your wort.  Once the wort is cool enough, transfer to your primary fermenter and add enough water to make bring it up to 3 gallons.
Pitch your yeast.  Use whatever yeast strain that you are comfortable with.  I use Doric yeast and it seems to make a very good beer.  Personally, I pitch my yeast at about blood level, the same as George, which is anywhere from 98 - 100 degrees.  I also do an open fermentation for the first 12 hours before sealing it up.  I usually let my beers go through a week of primary fermentation before either sending them to a secondary or bottling them. 
Sounds like an interesting beer to make.   I think my recipe would be taste better than George's.  So, if you do brew the old recipe with just molasses, let me know how it tastes..

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Brewing Procedures

Thursday, August 24, 2006

With September just around the corner, it is almost time to begin brewing again.  I do like the real old-timers used to do and that is take the summer off from brewing.  Summer seems to be a better time to drink the beer than to make it.  Well, anyways, I was reading my latest copy of Brew Your Own magazine it it has a great article on the proper procedures for extract beers.  The four procedures are:
No-Boil Brewing - I have never tried this but looks like a great time saver.  The extract is added at the end.
Concentrated Boil Method - This is what I normally use.  You boil a condensed wort and then dilute it in the fermenter.
Extract Late Method - This is where you add the 1/2 the extract towards the end of the boil
Texas Two-Step - This is where you essentially boil 1/2 the wort at 1 time.
On my next batch of beer, I plan on using the No-Boil Method.  Bascially to see if it saves time and if that method makes good beer.
If you would like to read the whole article Click Here.  There are also 5 recipes that you can try.

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Beer and Wine Survey

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's been almost a year since I started this blog and I would like to get an idea of what you, the reader is looking for.  The survey listed below will give me some idea of what you want.  Being to cheap to buy survey software, (it all goes into making wine and beer), you will have to copy the survey and e-mail me your responses.  Or, you can post your responses in the comment section at the end of this article,
Do you make?
A:  Wine
B:  Beer
C:  Both
Do you want more?
A:  Wine articles
B:  Beer articles
C:  Everything is just fine
Do you want more?
A:  Recipes
B:  How to's
C:  General articles
D:  My adventures in making wine and beer
Would you be willing to send in and have published on this blog?
A:  Recipes
B:  Articles
C:  I'm too busy drinking what I have made

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Ten Essentials to Make Wine or Beer

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Today is just one of those days. Between running to the hospital to visit my wife, work, and going to the viewing of a friend, it just seems like anything more will explode my one brain cell. So to take it easy on me, here is my list of ten essentials for making beer or wine.
Racking Cane - You need to be able to get it from point a to point b
Airlock - Helps to prevent fermenters from exploding and bad bacteria from spoiling your creation
Hydrometer - Needed so that you can gauge how much alcohol you have created
Fermenters - Can't quite make anything on the floor
Sanitizer - To kill any harmful bacteria
Water - To clean with, dilute must or wort if needed, and to make wort
Yeast - That little something that makes it into a drink
Juice/Malt - The fermentable stuff
Patience - Good things take time.
Spouse that will let you make your wine or beer - This is a must because it doesn't help if it disturbs the family

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White Wine Grapes - Part 3

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Part 5 in the Series

Last part of the Wine Grape Series

The Sauvignon Blanc grape produces wines of distinction in most of the areas where it is grown.  It can tolerate greater heat than many varieties.  Sauvignon Blancs are higher in acid and often exhibit 'melon' in the nose and tastes.  If grown in too cool a climate, it can develop an herbal ('grassy') character in its aromas.  Sauvignon Blanc produces large crops and is a low cost variety.

It performs well in the Loire river and Bordeaux regions of FranceBecause it can get overpowered by the oak flavors, it is not often aged in wood.  It can gain additional complexity and richness with that treatment.  In the U.S. it is often known as Fume Blanc.  New Zealand is having notable success with this variety and produces wines that have very high levels of acidity.

Sauvignon Blanc is often blended with small amounts of Semillion in order to 'round-out' the taste of the wine.

Sauvignon Blanc is especially good when served with seafood.

Semillon grapes make up 80% of the blend in the most expensive and famous dessert wine in the world, Château d'Yquem. Semillon seems the favorite foil of Botrytis Cinerea, the noble rot which concentrates the sugars and flavors and intensifies the aromas for d'Yquem and the other "late-harvest" dessert wines of Monbazillac and Sauternes. These wines hold up spectacularly in antiquity, unique in the spectrum of unfortified wines.

Consistently productive at six to eight tons per acre and of vigorous vines, semillon is easy to cultivate. It is fairly resistant to common vine diseases, with the notable exception of rot, which most often is hoped to be the noble type and not the destructive strain. This viticultural profile has led to widespread propagation and popularity of semillon vineyards.

While semillon is the majority white variety in Bordeaux, Graves, and Sauternes, more grows in Chile than anywhere else on earth. Early in the viticultural development of Australia, semillon (often incorrectly labeled as Riesling) dominated as the major white variety, although the vineyards are mostly Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc today.

The ripe semillon berry is a rich yellow color at maturity, although increasing sun exposure may turn it amber-pink. In warmer climates, there is always danger of sunburn and raisining. If processed as a dry or semidry table wine, the thin skins and tender, juicy pulp require speedy but gentle handling.

Viognier seemed literally an endangered variety only a few years ago, but seems to be recovering worldwide in both popularity and acreage. Less than 35 acres remained planted in all of France, its homeland, in the late 1960s. Its newest realm, California, has 2,001 acres as of 2002 (although a considerable portion is not yet mature enough to bear a commercial crop) and there are also relatively new plantings in Australia and Brazil, as well as other U.S. plantings in Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The major drawback of the viognier grape is that it is a very shy producer and somewhat difficult to grow. Although drought tolerant, it is easily infected with powdery mildew in damp conditions or humid climates. Like many other varietals, viognier must be harvested at its peak of maturity in order to display its unique aroma and flavor character. The grape's tendency to develop high sugar but low acid can result in wines with neutral, merely vinous flavors and high alcohol. These cultivation problems and producer desires to capitalize on the grape's somewhat rarity combine to make many Viognier wines relatively expensive.

Probably the main attraction of Viognier is its potentially powerful, rich, and complex aroma that often seems like overripe apricots mixed with orange blossoms or acacia. With as distinctive and sweet an aroma-flavor profile as Gewürztraminer, Viognier is nevertheless usually made in a dry style and seems to appeal more to the typical Chardonnay drinker. The distinctive Viognier perfume holds up even when blended with a large portion of other grapes. The fruit usually has very deep color, but is somewhat low in acidity. As California wineries experiment with Viognier-Chardonnays, Viognier-Chenin Blancs, and Viognier-Colombards, this may be the grape's ultimate destiny, as a blender.

Because the prime appeal of Viognier is its fresh and striking aroma, it is a wine that should be consumed young in most instances. The exception is Château Grillet, where the grapes are harvested early and the wine kept in oak for several months prior to bottling; this wine has a reputation for aging up to two decades.


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Beer and Wine Ramblings

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Finally the heat wave has ceased an it now comfortable enough in my office to work on the computer.  The experiment with making wine out of tea is coming along rather nicely.  It is designed to be a very short aged wine and I'll probably bottle it within the next week or 2.  At that time, I'll give you my recipe and you can give it a go.  My mint tea is ready to be racked over.  The most suprising thing about the mint tea, is that I used Lavlin D-47 yeast which is very low foaming.  Normally, when I make only a gallon, I have to use a blow-off tube because an airlock will bet hogged up.  But, with the D-47 yeast I was able to use just an airlock. 
A couple of neat things that I found while surfing the web are:
The 4 historic ales produced by the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) sound very interesting.  The 1790 Root Beer looks like an experiment waiting to happen.  To read more about these beers, check out The Anchorage Press.
For those of you that enjoy watching or reading reviews on different wines, try the Wine Library.  If you don't already have the latest version of  Quicktime, you will need to download that first to watch the podcast.  View the Podcasts by clicking here. 

Maybe someday I'll start doing a few podcasts.  Let's hope not, I might be too ugly and scare people off.

For those of you thinking of buying a plastic carboy, check out the discussion on Beer

And finally, the last part of the Grape Wine Series will be posted next week.  Have a nice weekend, I plan on racking and drinking some fine homemade wine.

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White Wine Grapes - Part 2

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Part 4 in the Series

Pinot blanc is a genetic mutation or clone of pinot gris, which is in turn, a clone of pinot noir. The leaf structure, clusters and berries so resemble Chardonnay that there are many vineyards in Europe where plantings of the two grapes are intermingled. This may have led to some confusion and mis-naming of grapes as "pinot chardonnay" (chardonnay is decidedly not of the pinot family).

Pinot blanc berry skins have an unusually high tannin content and the wines are prone to browning.

Pinot blanc is allowed in both the Mâconnais and wine labeled "Bourgogne Blanc", but plantings are nearly phased out of the Burgundy appellation. There are still many pinot blanc vineyards in Alsace, where the variety sometimes is called Klevner.

Pinot Blanc cluster photo.Plantings are extensive in Italy, where the grape is known as pinot bianco. Many vintners there make relatively neutral-tasting, crisp, high-acid versions intended for early consumption. Due to its low aroma and high acid, high production clones of pinot blanc are also used for blending with muscat in Spumante.

There are vineyards in both Germany and Austria, where pinot blanc may be called Weissburgunder and is even made into a trockenbeerenauslese version. There is also much pinot blanc planted in Eastern Europe.

A considerable amount of pinot blanc is planted in Uruguay and Argentina. Most of the 1,000 or so acres of pinot blanc in California are planted in Monterey County.

Aroma in pinot blanc is very light, non-distinct, nearly neutral. It is balanced with high acid and can be full-bodied. California winemakers frequently get fairly good results by applying the same techniques as they might to Chardonnay, barrel fermentation, lees stirring, full malolactic, etc.

Pinot gris (or pinot grigio, as it is known in Italy) probably is the best-known "white" variant-clone of Pinot Noir. Ripe pinot gris grapes may be described as having colors from bluish grey to light pinkish brown. Clusters with a variety of colors are not unusual.

The variety can attain a very high level of sweetness, but will begin to lose acid rapidly when near to fully ripe. Sometimes it is used to add richness and to lighten, when blended with Pinot Noir.

Some pinot gris is grown in Burgundy, where it may be called pinot beurot. Where planted in Germany, it is known as ruländer. It is of little commercial significance in either locale. Friuli, in Italy, produces the largest quantity, but only two appellations have Pinot Gris stars in the wine quality galaxy: Alsace, France, the traditional base of Pinot Gris appreciation and Oregon, the newest Pinot Gris area to come to light.

In Alsace, the pinot gris grape is called tokay d'Alsace (no relation to the Hungarian Tokay). The Alsatians value it as a full-bodied wine that can stand up to food without introducing any flavors of its own. In Italy, Pinot Grigio can be quite distinguished, coming from some producers, especially in the Friuli region, who devote attention to growing and vinifying. Unfortunately for its reputation, there are many other Italian Pinot Grigio makers that overcrop and harvest early to produce crisp, but vapid wines.

Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio is usually delicately fragrant and mildly floral with lightly lemon-citrus flavors. Depending upon ripeness at harvest and vinification technique, Pinot Gris can be tangy and light, or quite rich, round and full bodied. Made in an appropriate style, it is one dry white wine that may even age well.

The Riesling is considered on of the 'noble' grape varieties for wine making.  It can produce wines of high acidity and elegance in very cool growing conditions.  Its wines usually show fresh fruit flavors and a zesty character.  Riesling has the ability to produce wines that run the gamut from bone dry to very sweet but are usually made in dry of semi-dry styles.  It has perfumey aromas with peach and honeysuckle notes and can develop a 'petrol' nose as it ages.

Riesling does best in cool climates and is very resistant to frost.  It is planted very widely in the northern European growing regions but is less popular in other areas of the world.

In the right circumstances, some of the finest sweet wines in the world can be made from Riesling that has been affected by Botrytis Cinerea.  This mold attacks the skin of the grape and concentrates the sugars in the grape by allowing the water to evaporate.  This is especially true in the Moselle and Rhine river valleys of Germany as well as the Alsace region of FranceThese wines are at the same time:  wonderful, rare, expensive and long-lived.


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Storing Your Wine

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's been so stinking hot the past few days.  Temperatures in the middle 90's and humidity in the 70% range.  Could it be global warmingMaybe? But, of course, it sure beats freezing your butt off and paying the heat bill.  It got me thinking about how wines should be stored.  Not that it really makes a difference at my house.  Most of my wines are consumed within a year of fermenting.  On a very rare occassion will I find something that is 2 years old.
Here's an article from that mentions about the angle, the light and the movement in a room. 
Think of Angle, Light and Movement When Storing Wine.
Wine making at home requires attention to every little detail. Many guidelines tell you at what temperature to keep your wine stored. However, don't overlook other elements in the room that could detract from your wine once its made and waiting for use. Think about the angle you store your bottles, the light in the room and minimizing movement of bottles once they are stored. Table wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist which prevents air from entering the wine. Fortified wines other than port are stored standing. If bottles are stored with the labels up, it will be easier to see the deposit of sediment that forms on the opposite side of the bottle when it comes time to open it. Wines should be stored in such a way that you don't have to move them around to get at a particular bottle. Once a wine is laid down, it should stay there until it is opened. Light will prematurely age a bottle of wine. Incandescent or sodium vapor lights are better for a cellar that fluorescent lighting. While clear bottles are most susceptible to light, ultraviolet light will penetrate even dark colored glass. Ultraviolet light may give a wine unpleasant aromas and ruin it. Extra care should be given to sparkling wines as they are more sensitive to light than other wines.
Personally, I keep my wine in my office at room temperature even though they say that 60 - 65 degrees is the perfect temperature.  So far, I have had no problems but if the heat wave was to continue for another couple weeks, I would probably store the wine in my basement.
This list of helpful hints from is more in tune to what you should do for storing your wines.

Wine Storage

The storage of wine is not a factor for most people because wine is usually purchased and then consumed shortly after. However, if you have any intention of keeping wines around for months then some precautions should be taken.

Never leave a wine open to direct exposure to the sun. Exposure to the heat and light of the sun can very quickly ruin a wine. Drastic temperature changes can also have a major effect on wine.

For someone wanting to store wine for aging purposes, you need a dark area free of vibration with a temperature ideally constant between 50 & 60 degrees F and a humidity level of 70 to 95 percent. Wine should also be stored away from odor causing products, ie: paints or solvants.

The amount of attention given to wine storage is directly related to the price and quality of the wine being stored. A first-growth Bordeaux will require ideal conditions, even if it means that you must go out and purchase a wine storage unit.

If you are storing homemade wine then you may not be so concerned with temperature fluctuations since its storage life is relatively short anyway.

The majority of wine drinkers don't have the resources or desire to put a lot of money into producing an ideal wine storing environment. However, in most cases a dark place with no vibration can be found eg. a bedroom closet, a low traffic corner of a basement (NOT under the stairs or near the washer and dryer or furnace).

If you are careful to select ageable wines that are moderately priced, then you can get away with some temperature fluctuations, such as a house in the Northern climates without air conditioning.

Temperature fluctuations will cause your wine to age quicker.

Shorter shelf life is not necessarilly a bad thing. You can experience an aging wine during a short time span. I have had this over 6 months with homemade white wine, and 12 months with homemade red. 

As a general rule, red is more ageable than white. This is because of the tannins that red wines have. Tannins come from contact with grape skins during fermentation, and also from oak aging. .

If you want to invest in racks for a basement wine storage room, you choices are wood, metal, or man-made. Cardboard is not recommended due to the chemicals in its production. For more information on wine storage, why not invest first in a good wine book. I recommend Wine for Dummies, 2nd edition  It's full of tips and humour. 

Part 2 of the White Wine Grapes will be posted next week.  So, stop by and give it a read.

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White Wine Grapes - Part 1

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Part 3 in the Series

Albarino is the primary grape used to make dry white wine in the Rias Baixes (Lower Inlets) section of the Galicia region of Northwestern Spain. Considered by many to be Spain's premier quality white wine, Albariƃ±o is also known in Portugal as Alvarinho and often used as a component of Vinho Verde.

Typically, wines made from Albarino are very aromatic, often described as having scents of almonds or almond paste, apples, peaches, citrus, and flowers or grass. Albarino wines are particularly suited to seafood due to their bracing acidity (Jancis Robinson calls it "razor-sharp."). This grape's inherent tartness should be embraced in youth, for wines made from albarino do not age well, and the vibrant aromas begin to noticeably fade within months of bottling.

The Chardonnay grape variety is a classic white wine grape grown all around the world. The original fame of Chardonnay comes from it's success in the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France. White Burgundy must be made from the Chardonnay grape unless the label indicates it was made from a much less well known grape, Aligote.

Chardonnay takes oak well, and many higher priced Chardonnays are typically fermented and/or aged in oak barrels. When Chardonnay is aged in oak barrels, it may pick up vanilla overtones in its aromas and flavor.

Chardonnay also ages well in the bottle, though it will not age as long as many red wines. It likes slightly cooler climates (warm days/cool nights) and develops less acidity than
Sauvignon Blanc. Some producers put their Chardonnay (or some of it) through malolactic fermentation which reduces crispness and brings out a rich, buttery taste. This usually shortens the life of the wine as far as aging is concerned.

Wines made from the Chardonnay grape are usually served chilled. Chardonnay matches very well with chicken and with dishes that are served with a lot of butter or a cream sauce. Most Chardonnays lack the acid to match as well with seafood as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.

Gruner Veltliner is the most widely planted grape variety in Austria, accounting for 37 percent of the country's total vineyard area, about 50,875 acres. Most of these vines are in the large wine region known as Niederosterreich (Lower Austria), along the Danube River north of Vienna. It also grows in a few other Eastern European countries, such as Slovakia, Yugoslavia and the Czech Republic, but the variety is most closely associated with Austria, where it has been cultivated since Roman times. Simply put, Gruner Veltliner is the indigenous variety of Austria.

It's ability to age beautifully is one of the many interesting characteristics that Gruner Veltliner shares with Riesling. Both varieties have naturally high acidity, an essential component of wine that will age well. With today's improved winemaking technology, it is still too soon to say how the modern versions of wines from either grape will age for the long term, but the indications are quite positive. And in the Wachau, the consensus seems to be that Gruner Veltliner will ultimately be the longer lived variety.

Of the four principal varieties of the muscat grape, including Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc, Muscat Hamburg, and Muscat Ottonel, the most widely propagated and also most representative of the family character is Muscat Blanc, known as Muscat Frontignan in France and Moscato di Canelli in Italy.

Each muscat produces, with subtle variation, wines with the distinct, intense, aromatic, sweet, and easily-recognized scent of muscat and, unusual for most wine varieties, that actually taste like grapes. Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Hamburg are, in fact, cultivated as table grapes, as well as for making wine.

Muscat is a very ancient variety and, with its strong and distinctive perfume, was probably one of the first to be identified and cultivated. Nearly every Mediterranean country has a famous wine based on muscat and varying from light and bone dry, to low-alcohol sparkling versions, to very sweet and alcoholic potions


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