Tuesday, September 26, 2006
If you have been making wine for a long time or just starting out, your bound to make a few mistakes. I have found that most of my mistakes have come from trying to rush things to much. With wine, you need to take a more laid back approach. Honestly, that's what I like about wine making. I just need to practice it more often. Here is a top 8 of winemaking mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Incomplete Fermentation - I've been guilty of this one on numerous occasions. I've always been tempted to bottle my wine before it has completely fermented. A good rule of thumb is to take a hydrometer reading and if is above .995 do not bottle.
2. Residual Sugar - Usually a product of an incomplete fermentation or it might be that the yeast you are using can not tolerate a high alcohol content. ie. Yeast will ferment to 12% but you put enough sugar in it to ferment to 20%. Wrong yeast for the wine. Extremes in temperature will also do the trick by making the yeast sluggish or having it go dormant. That is why it is essential to keep your fermenter is a controlled environment. If you bottle this wine, make sure you use potassium sorbate to prevent the yeast from re-fermenting.
3. MLF Fermentation - If the wine is below .995 on a hydrometer reading and it is still sending up bubbles, then a malolactic fermentation is taking place. This is a secondary fermentation that takes place and converts the sharper tasting malic acid to a softer lactic acid A by-product of this is the formation of CO2 which can cause exploding bottles. Fresh juice and grapes are more likely to undergo a MLF.
4. Geranium Smell - This is caused by sorbic acid which is a byproduct of sorbate and lactic acid. This can be prevented by not allowing a sweet wine to undergo MLF or if it has using sulfite instead of sorbate.
5. Acetic Spoilage - This is caused by oxidation and will give your wine a vinegary smell. Easy way to prevent this is to fill your bottles up leaving just enough space for temperature fluctuations. I usually go by how much space is in the bottle of wine I have purchased as a guide,
6. Deposits in Bottle - This one I'm really guilty of. In my case it is because I don't filter my wines. I rack and at each racking try to keep the lees from coming through. I do loose about 10% of my total wine production this way but I'm willing to live with it. Besides, those last bottles that do get a lot of deposits are usually quickly consumed and the deposit free bottles are stored.
7. Poor Color in Reds - This is because you did not let the skins soak in the wine long enough. Keep the skins in the must for at least 5 days and at the most 10 days.
8. Patience - Just learn to take things at a slower pace. Don't rush with your wine. Slow down and smell the grapes.
Special Note: I participated in Problogger's How To writing contest last week. There were well over 300 different posts and quite frankly, to many interesting ones to list here. You can check out the entire list by clicking here.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Pears are plentiful this time of the year. Some of your friends and nieghbors may have tried pawning off a bunch to you. Do what I do, accept them and then begin to make them into wine. This is a simple recipe for pear wine and one that you should enjoy making.
Traditional Pear Wine Recipe
1 gallon water
5 lbs very ripe pears
1 lb raisins
2 lbs ultra fine sugar
1 ½ teaspoons acid blend
½ teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 package wine yeast
Boil water in large pot. Chop pears and place in primary fermentation container. Add the sugar and citric acid to the container. Pour water over fruit and stir until sugar has dissolved. Let cool until room temperature. Add the pectic enzyme and let liquid rest for 1 day. Add the yeast and yeast nutrient, cover, and place in warm, dark location. Stir daily for 1 week. Rack into secondary fermentation container. Seal with airlock. Rack into bottles in 3 months. Let rest for at least one year.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The three new barley enzymes can yield up to 30 percent more sugar than enzymes found in conventional barley lines, said the scientists from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS).
The enzymes are said to perform exceptionally well at temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius, or 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and because they produce more sugar, they result in more fermentable product for brewing beer.
Comment: Hope they come out with a version for the homebrewer. It will give us the option of either cutting back the grain by 30% or give us higher octane beer.
From Days that End in "Y"
Organic Beer in Massachusetts
September 3, 2006 8:06:03 PM
Burlington-based company Peak Organic just started selling its organic beer here about two months ago. The 29-year-old entrepreneur Jon Cadoux has been homebrewing for years and decided to combine his business experience, which includes a Harvard MBA, with his passion for homebrewing and organic foods. No numbers for Peak Organic are mentioned specifically, but the whole organic beer market has grown from $9 million in sales in 2003 to $19 million in 2005.
Comment: I have not used any organic grains in making my beer. I do like the idea that they were not sprayed with any chemicals. Honestly, I think that "natural" or better beer is why we homebrew. I'm gonna' try and hunt down some organic grains and give it a try.
Article From The Mercury News
Daniel: Sept. 11 propelled couple into winemaking
By Laurie Daniel
Special to the Mercury News
Momentous life events have a way of making people take stock and change direction. A brush with serious illness and my 40th birthday prompted me to pursue wine writing as a career. For Peter and Rebecca Work of Ampelos Cellars in Santa Barbara County, the catalyst was the events of Sept. 11.
The Works were on the corporate fast track with a human-resources outsourcing company they'd helped start. They were making regular trips to Newark, N.J., where they were negotiating a contract with Prudential Financial.
On Sept. 10, 2001, the couple took a red-eye from Los Angeles, landing in Newark the following morning. Peter had an appointment on Wall Street at 9 a.m., and he planned to take a Port Authority train to the World Trade Center station. It was a trip that would have put him under the World Trade Center at 8:45 a.m. -- just a minute before American Airlines Flight 11 tore into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Fortunately, the Wall Street appointment was canceled as they were on the way to the airport Monday night. But as the couple tried to get home from Newark after the Federal Aviation Administration had grounded all flights, they began to wonder whether this high-powered life of travel and meetings and IPOs was what they really wanted. They got as far as Kansas City in a rented SUV before the airlines started flying again. When they finally landed in Los Angeles, Peter says, the couple knew it was time to make a change.
``9/11 made a significant impact on our life, there's no doubt about it,'' Peter says.
Two years earlier, the Works had bought 82 acres in the Santa Rita hills, the appellation at the cool western end of the Santa Ynez Valley. It's an area that has rocketed to prominence on the strength of its dark, concentrated pinot noirs. The Works loved wine and visiting wineries, and they thought it would be fun to plant a few grapes and make a little wine as a weekend project.
``We just fell in love with the whole ambience around the winemakers,'' Peter says, adding that he thought it was a ``cool lifestyle.''
The couple hired a vineyard consultant who persuaded them to plant 15 acres in 2001. They looked around at what grapes other people in the area were growing -- pinot specialist Sea Smoke is a neighbor; Lafond, with pinot, syrah and other grapes, is down the hill -- and decided on a mix of two-thirds pinot and one-third syrah. They planned to sell most of the grapes.
A few months later, the 9/11 attacks stunned the country, and the Works. In January 2002, they sold their house on the water in Long Beach and moved to Santa Barbara County. And they jumped into the wine business with both feet.
They bought a little wine in barrel for Peter to blend and bottle; at harvest time, they bought some grapes. Peter now makes the wines in Lompoc in a facility he shares with Ken Brown and his eponymous brand; the Works' son Don, the assistant winemaker at Sea Smoke, is Peter's consultant. The 2004 vintage marked the first harvest from the estate vineyard. The couple also planted 10 more acres -- mostly pinot and syrah, with a little grenache, pinot gris and viognier -- that year.
The Works decided to call their winery Ampelos, the Greek word for vine. The winery shares its name with a resort the couple owns with Peter's sister and brother-in-law on the Greek island of Folegandros.
I haven't tasted all the Ampelos wines, but the ones I've sampled are impressive, especially for such early efforts. The 2004 estate pinot noir ($32) displays bright cherry and raspberry flavors, accented by some exotic spices and a hint of mineral. It's well-structured, but the tannins are very accessible.
The 2004 estate syrah ($34) is dark and a little meaty, with ripe blackberry fruit and a note of violets. It's still quite young and tight and won't be released until November. Even then, it should benefit from a few more months in the bottle.
The 2005 rosé of syrah ($16) is made from grapes purchased from a warm part of the Santa Ynez Valley. It's fresh, fruity and dry, with juicy raspberry flavors, bright acidity and just a bit of drying tannin on the finish. The winery also produces a little viognier and a ``syrache,'' a blend of syrah and grenache, both of them made from purchased fruit.
None of the wines is in huge supply: The Works made just 850 cases in 2004 and plan for production to top out at 4,200-4,500 cases. They can be ordered through the Web site, www. ampeloscellars.com.
Since making their abrupt career change nearly five years ago, the Works haven't looked back. Peter acknowledges that owning a winery and making wine ``is more work than I had envisioned.'' That said, does he still think being a winemaker is a ``cool lifestyle''?
``Totally,'' he replies.
Comment: This is one awesome article. To think how close they came to being a number. Makes you want to think if it is not time to start your own winery and enjoy life instead or working like a dog.
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Peel and chop sweet potatoes fine. Place in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 25 minutes. Chop raisins and put into primary fermentor with sugar. Strain liquid into primary fermentor and squeeze all liquid out of the pulp. Pulp can now be used for sweet potato pie or other recipe.
Add enough water to make up to 1 gallon. Slice oranges thinly. Add all other ingredient EXCEPT yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar. Let sit overnight.
Next day, Specific Gravity should be 1.090 - 1.100. Stir in yeast. Stir daily for 5 to 6 days or until frothing ceases. Siphon into secondary fermentor and attach airlock.
For a dry wine, rack in three weeks, and every three months for one year. Bottle.
For a sweet wine, rack at three weeks. Add 1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup wine. Stir gently, and place back into secondary fermentor. Repeat process every six weeks until fermentation does not restart with the addition of sugar. Rack every three months until one year old. Bottle.
If wine is not clear, or still has quite a bit of sediment forming between rackings, Fine the wine as follows:
Use wine finings or plain gelatin. Gelatin: use 1 teaspoon per 6 gallons of wine. Finings: 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons or as per package directions. Soak in 1/2 cup cold water for 1/2 hour. Bring to a boil to dissolve. Cool. Stir into wine. Let sit 10 to 14 days. Rack. If not clear enough yet, repeat process. DO NOT increase amount of gelatin or finings. The mixture will stay suspended in the wine, preventing it from ever clearing. Bottle once wine is clear.
The wine is best if you can refrain from drinking it for one full year from the date it was started.