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Blending Wine

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Right about now is the time that most home winemakers begin to open bottles of wine made last year. Will it taste good, average or excellent? If it is just average, could I added something to it to make it better? What if I mix a little blueberry wine with the concord wine? A thinned bodied, with a full bodied? These are just some of the questions you run into whenever you decide to blend your wines.

Blending wines is a combination of math and art. You can calculate how much of each wine to blend by using the Pearson Square or you can can do it the artsy way. Personally, I prefer the artsy way, that is taking a little of wine A and mix it with a little of wine B until I get the taste I am looking for. Let me give you an example. I made a concord wine from grapes in 2004 that had great taste by was very thinned bodied. I made a blueberry wine from canned blueberries in early 2005 that was more full bodied. So, I said to myself "What if I blend these two wines?" I started out with 2 small glasses, filled one with blueberry and one with concord and then pour the 2 glasses into a larger glass. Then the fun part, tasting the blend. It was better, but not good enough. So then it was 3 glasses, first 2 blueberry and then 1 concord. The mixing continued until I found the taste I was looking for, which I believe was 1 blueberry to 2 concord.

For you math types, here is the Pearson Square. This example was taken from Grapestompers website.

The easiest way to illustrate how the Pearson Square works is to do an example....

For our illustration, let's say we are blending because we would like to lower the level of alcohol in our wine. We have some Merlot that is 15% alcohol, and we would like to blend it with another wine so we end up with a target alcohol of 12%. The other wine's alcoholic content is 11%.

Let's begin by showing you what the Pearson Square looks like. See the figure below:

Pearson Square

The center of the square, shown by the letter "C", represents the "target" value we want to blend for (in this case, we want to obtain a wine of 12% alcohol).

The upper left corner, shown by the letter "A", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #1 (Our Merlot, which is 15%).

The lower left corner, shown by the letter "D", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #2 (another Merlot, which is 11%)

To use the Pearson Square, we merely substitute numbers for the letters in the diagram, and then do some simple subtraction. We find the difference between the values in the corner and the center "target" value, and place the answer in the opposite corners. This value is always the absolute value (no negative numbers allowed!) of the difference.... so, for our example:

15 minus 12 equals 3, and
12 minus 11 equals 1

Here's what the Pearson Square looks like now:

Pearson Square - Example calculations

Voila! As you can see, we need 3 parts of the 11% wine to mix with 1 part of the 15% wine, and we will end up with our "target" wine of 12%. Pretty neat, huh?

There are other things to consider when blending wines. Such as, not blending a bad wine with a good wine, balancing tannins etc. The following links make great reads for exploring more about blending.

Blending Wines: Grapestompers

Blending Batches - Tips from the Pros: Winemaker Magazine

Blending to Improve Wines: Winemaker Magazine


New Wine and Beer Blogs

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sorry for the late post.  I'm working on two new blogs.  One is about making homemade wine and the other is making homemade beer.  The plan is to place some orginal content on both sites along with going back through my archives and re-posting the best posts on these 2 blogs.  They should be up and running by next week.
Thanks for hanging in there !!!
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10 Ways to Beat Oxidation

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

1. Transfer whites quickly otherwise they could turn brown

 2. Adjust the pH if your wine is not between 3.1 to 3.6

 3. Use sulfite

4. Top up your carboys or barrels and make sure that they are full

5. Rack by gravity and try to avoid pumps

6. Avoid pumps since they tend to dissolve oxygen into the wine

7. Use closed systems

8. Use ascorbic acid prior to bottling

9. Store at a cool temperature, ideally 55 degrees F

10. Inspect your equipment for wear and tear

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Wine and Beer Articles

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some interesting reads that I found on the net and wanted to share with you. Sort of a break from working on our hobby.

Here is something that I wish we had in my area.

Wine making for beginners

By Times-News
Ads by
KIMBERLY The Community Education Center at the College of Southern Idaho will offer the class "Home Brewing for the Beginning Wine Maker" from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 26 atWert's Brew Haus on U.S. Highway 30 in Kimberly.

Daryl Wert will instruct, and the cost is $35.

Students will learn about the beginning steps of making wine at home, the equipment needed, the wine kits, processing, bottling and types of wines.

Class size is limited, so register early. For information or to register, call 732-6442 or visit

The reason we all got into this hobby, to make better wine and beer.

Hobbyists enjoy putting personal touch on brew

Myrtle Beach Online

Some beers just blend better if you let them sit and condition. The longer the beer sits, the better it gets.

Not satisfied with the taste of commercial beers, or maybe you just want something a little more unique? Homebrewing may be the way to go to savor a beer that's all your own.

Getting started as a home-brewer can be as simple as buying a book or receiving a gift on a special occasion.

Read More

Since the step-son lives in Reading, PA, I just had to included this article. Gives me another thing to look forward to on the next trip down.

Joe Sixpack | Reading Beer making a comeback

Philadelphia Inquirer

Never in a million years will this take away attention from the beers of Legacy

UNLESS YOU happened to live in Berks County 30 or more years ago, Reading Beer might never have crossed your path. But you probably tasted something like it, because it was your basic, low-priced American lager, not unlike the hometown brew in Norristown, Rochester, Allentown or 100 other Rust Belt cities.

Read More

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Liquid Wine Yeast

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

As I said in the previous post, I don't use liquid yeast. So, I'll just be listing some of the major ones along with their vital stats as a reference guide.

White Labs

Champagne - Classic champagne yeast with a neutral character. Temperature range 70 -75 degrees F with a potential alcohol of 17%.

Chardonnay White Wine - Use for white and blush wines. Nice range temperature range ( 50 -90 degrees) and will ferment out to around 14%.

French Red Wine - Is a classic Bordeaux yeast that tolerates cold and has a rich, smooth flavor. Will ferment at 60 - 90 degrees F and produce a wine with 17% alcohol. Best for Cabernet and Merlot.

Steinberg - A Riesling and Gewurtraminer strain. Cold tolerant and has a high fruit and ester production. Lower alcohol output (around 14%) and can with stand temperatures of between 50 - 90 degrees.


Pasteur Champagne - Use for Dry Whites, Spumante, Sauv. Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Gewürz. Will ferment to 17% and has a temperature range of 55-75 degrees.

Sweet Mead - Best for Cider, Cyser, Fruit Wine, Ginger Ale, Cherry, Raspberry, Peach. Produces a sweet wine with low alcohol (around 11%). Likes the 60 -75 degree range for fermentation.

Chablis- Fruity Whites, Chard, Chablis, Gewürz, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris is what this strain likes to work with. Will work at the 55 -75 degree range and produces a wine with an alcohol content between 12 - 13%

Chateau Red - Cabernet, Red Varietals, Gamay, Zin, Rhone, Burgundy, Pinot Noir. 55 - 90 degree range and 14%

Bordeaux - Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petit Syrah, Riojo, Valdepenas. 55 - 90 range and 14%

Eau de Vie - This one is for the heavy duty wines like Cordials, Grappa, Barleywine, Eau de Vie, Single Malts. Will ferment out to about 21% at 65 - 80 degrees.

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Wine Yeast - Dry

Thursday, October 12, 2006


How many times have you made wine and wondered if you were using the correct yeast?  Or, it late at night and all that you have is a Burgundy yeast and you are making strawberry wine.  Will it work?  Hopefully this and the next post (Tuesday) will help you.  This post will deal with dry wine yeast and only for Lavlin and Red Star (The most common).

I use dry yeast all the time.  Mostly for 2 primary reasons.  1) I never have the luxury of planning when I am making a batch of wine 2) Dry wine yeast is cheaper.  So I will start will Lavlin yeast, my yeast of choice.


Lavlin Dry Yeasts

KV D-47 - Is primarily for dry white. blush or sweet mead and contributes mouthfeel.  It works best at temperatures from 59 - 86 degrees F and the maximum that it usually ferments to is in the 14% range  I like the D-47 yeast since it is a low foaming yeast.  Helps prevents from blowing off the top.

Bourgovin RC 212 - Used on red wines and enhances varietal notes along with promoting color stability.  Likes the 50 - 86 degree rang and will ferment out to 14%. 

71B - Use this for just about anything especially with juice concentrates.  It will add fruit esters along with softening the acidity.  Another 59 - 86 degrees yeast that ferments to 14%.

KIV 1116 - A great yeast for taking care of a stuck fermentation, making cider, or making a high alcohol wine.   You can go up to 18% on this yeast and it thrives on the 59 - 86 degrees temperature range.

EC1118 - Champagne, Dry meads, late harvests or stuck fermentations is the best environment for this yeast.  Another 18% yeast that will tolerate temperatures from 45 - 95 degrees.


Red Star Dry Yeasts

Pasteur Red -  Most read wines along with berry or cherry wines.  Promotes fruit flavors and aromas and works well at temperatures between 64 - 86 degrees.  Can ferment to 16%.

Montrachet - use for a full bodied intense colored red or white wine with a maximum alcohol content of 13%.    This yeast thrives in the 59 - 86 temperature range.

Cote de Blances - One of the lower alcohol producing yeasts (hits the 12 to 14% range) and is used for blush wines, Riesling, Chardonnay and cider.  Slow fermenter that builds flavor and aroma.  Quite temperature sensitive so keep this one in the 64 to 86 range.

Champagne - Used in fruit wines, mead, cider, dry whites, and cabernat.  Great for restarting stuck fermentations  Likes the 59 - 86 degree range and will produce a wine with alcohol between 13 to 15%.

Premier Cuvee - Anything but residual sugar wines.  Will ferment to 18% and likes the 45 - 95 range.  Great for starting stuck fermentations.

I've used all these with great success.  I've also used the wrong yeast for a wine and it still turned out ok.  So I think that for us home winemakers, we can make that occasional mistake,  or use the wrong yeast a midnight and not worry too much about it.
Stop by Tuesday when I go over liquid yeast.

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Pumpkin Ale

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

That time of the year to start thinking about making a batch of pumpkin ale for your Halloween party.  If you never tried pumpkin beer your in for a treat.  It's like drinking your pumpkin pie but with a little kick.

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains and pumpkin)
OG = 1.048 FG = 1.012 IBU = 19 SRM = 6 ABV = 4.6%


1.25 lbs. (0.57 kg) Muntons Extra Light dried malt extract
3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg) Northwestern Gold liquid malt extract
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) 2-row pale malt
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) CaraPils malt
5–6 lbs. (2.3–2.7 kg) pumpkin (cubed)
5 AAU Cascade hops (60 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Dried ale yeast
0.75 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Step by Step

Boil pumpkin cubes in water for 15 minutes. Heat 0.75 gallons (2.8 L) of water to 163 °F (73 °C). Place crushed grains in steeping bag and steep grains at 152 °F (67 °C) for 45 minutes. When pumpkin is ready, add chunks to grain bag and add cool water (to maintain 152 °F (67 °C) temperature). Combine grain and pumpkin "tea," dried malt extract and water to make 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops at the start of the boil. Add liquid malt extract and spices with 15 minutes left in the boil. Cool wort and transfer to fermenter. Top up to 5 gallons (19 L) with water. Aerate and pitch yeast. Ferment at 69 °F (21 °C).

All-grain option:

Replace malt extract and 1 lb. (0.45 kg) 2-row malt with 8.0 lbs. (3.6 kg) 2-row pale malt. Boil pumpkin cubes in water for 15 minutes. Mah grains and pumpkin chunks at 153 °F (67 °C) for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops with 60 minutes left. Add spices with 15 minutes left in boil. Ferment at 69 °F (21 °C).

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How To Brew Beer Index

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Other Recommended Links on Brewing Beer

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Wine Kit Tips

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I'm not a great fan of making wine with kits.  I think it is because I'm basically too cheap or maybe it is because I want to do it "The Old World" way.  Like telling time by the position of the sun.  How many of use do that? 
Wine kits do have their advantages.  For a person just starting out they provide a very easy way to get into the hobby.  For the more experienced winemakers, they can save time.  Overall, they are easy to use and usually pretty fool-proof. 
Here are a few tips to use when making wine from a kit.
Read the instructions -  Different kits have different instructions as to when to add things or the manufacturer has found a better way.
Cleanliness - Hey you drink this stuff, so if your equipment is full of crud, your wine will be full of crud.
Write it down - keeping track of your wine allows you to see how you made great wine or lousy wine.  I generally write down the ingredients, the date started, original gravity, when racked etc.
Keep fermenters full - Pretty much a no-brainer.  Don't put 3 gallons of wine in a 5 gallon carboy and allow tons of space.  That will generally cause oxidation and make a very bad wine.  You can either fill your fermenter with water or I use a watered down peach wine to fill most of my fermenters.
Stir well - Juice concentrate and water need to be blend very well.  So stir like crazy and make sure it is thoroughly mixed.
Control temperature - Make sure that the temperature where your wine is fermenting is between 68 - 72 degrees F.  Also, try and keep it from doing to extremes.  ie from 60 to 80 in a matter of a few hours.
Time - Take your time.  Most kits will be ready to bottle in 1 to 2 months but the wine should age for at least 6 months.

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George Washington Porter - Revisted

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I got e-mail the other day from Kermode Bear at  He actually made a batch of George Washington's Porter and the e-mail tells of his adventures.  Of course, back in George's day they fermented just about anything, since most supplies were very limited.  A molasses beer probably did taste pretty good back then, but according  to K. Bear it sucks.  Well, anyways, he gave me permission to post his e-mail, so here it is.

I had been wanting to make George's porter for a while now, and I suppose that your blog entry was the catalyst I needed. Porter made. I fudged on the recipe a bit; I have several one gallon jugs for experiments, and when I experiment I'm much more liable to goof off; so the following is what was used for a one gallon batch:

1 gallon of water
15oz of blackstrap molasses
1/8 oz Cluster pellet hops, 7.2%AA
1 tbsp LDME, primer
1/5 packet Nottingham Dry Yeast (Yeah, I know...)

Starting Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.020

I'm not a big fan of hops; I like less hops and more malt in my beers. I  often cut them by a third in most recipes. He does says to my taste, so. I boiled for an hour, not three.

I also used more molasses than I should have, 15oz instead of 13oz, and it was added to the boil. I have not used molasses before, and I didn't research it like I should have, so I am not sure if this had any effect.

Nottingham dry yeast, the stuff that comes in the Brewer's Best kits, was my yeast of choice. I need to get rid of them somehow.

Fermented for ten days, bottled with 1 tablespoon of light dry malt extract. Fermentation was active for a few days and trailed off as usual, nothing extraordinary. I noticed very little krausen, but that is common with such small batches.

The result? Yuck. The molasses odor is, well, it smells like molasses, strong and pleasant - if you weren't planning on drinking it. Even with half the molasses, I think the molasses flavor would be far too strong. The hops are nowhere to be tasted, it is terribly bitter, and quite honestly, it sucks. I've had three sips so far and I'm not going to continue. The molasses is just overpowering.

I have all the respect in the world for President Washington, but this just didn't work out for me.

What would I change in the future?

The bulk of the fermentables would be malt; Molasses and brown sugar added for some flavor, perhaps a bit of cinnamon or cardamom.

Samuel Adams makes a great molasses porter, by the way. Highly recommended over what came out of my batch. (o;

-K. Bear
Thanks K. Bear for the run down on your experiment.  Maybe the next experiment will be better.

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