Your Source For Making Wine and Beer

Watermelon Wine Recipe

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Its been extemely warm the past few days here with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees.  Feels more like the middle of summer than the middle month of spring.  The best thing about summer is being able to get local and ripe watermelons.  Something about those big green things that just "ooze" summer. 
I have made watermelon wine in the past, but it was pretty lackluster and thin.  I ended up mixing it with some concord wine just to use it up.  This recipe is untested and is something I will be trying later on.  It is a simple recipe but does require knowledge of how to use a hydrometer.
  • 8 cups watermelon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon tannin
  • 2 eleven ounce White Welch's Frozen Grape Juice 
  • 2 campden tablets
  • 1 teaspoon nutrients
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons acid blend
  • 1 package wine yeast
  • enough sugar to bring your hydrometer reading to 1.090
  • enough water to bring the must to a total of 1 gallon 
  • Remove rind and cube the watermelon flesh. Use an electric juicer or place cubes in a nylon straining bag and crush, squeezing out the juice. Pour into the primary fermentor. Add all other ingredients except the yeast. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Let sit over night.

    The next day, check the specific gravity. It should be between 1.090 and 1.095. Add yeast and mix in well. Cover primary fermentor. Stir daily for five days or until frothing stops. Put into secondary fermentor and place airlock on the bottle.

    Rack in about a month and check the gravity.  Rack again in 3 months or bottle.  Of course, taste it and see if it is good enough to be consumed after 3 months.  Most wines will take 9 to 12 months to reach their peak.

    Technorati Tags : , ,
    Powered By Qumana


    Winemaking Terms - Wine Glass to Wine Yeast

    Wine Glass:


    Specially designed glassware for enjoying wine, characterized by bowls or flutes on stems. Quality wine glasses are designed to capture and hold a wine's bouquet and are ideally shaped and angled to present the wines properly, according to style.


    Wine Stabilizer:


    Potassium sorbate, also known as "Sorbistat K," which produces sorbic acid when added to wine. When active fermentation has ceased and the wine racked the final time after clearing, 1/2 tsp. added to 1 gallon of wine will prevent future fermentation. Sodium benzoate, sold as "Stabilizing Tablets," and Potassium Sorbate, are other types of fermentation inhibitors. These are primarily used with sweet wines and sparkling wines, but may be added to table wines which exhibit difficulty in maintaining clarity after fining. For sweet wines, the final sugar syrup and stabilizer may be added at the same time.


    Wild Yeast:


    Any mixture of the thousands of yeast strains which may be airborne or on the fruit, exclusive of the cultured wine yeast deliberately added to a must. Grapes, fruit and the air often contain spoilage bacteria, molds or yeast which can destroy a wine's quality, but if no spoilage yeast or bacteria are present in the must the fermentation can produce an acceptable wine. Due to the risk from spoilage organisms, prudent winemakers treat their must with an aseptic dose of sulfite to kill non-yeast organisms, stun wild yeasts into temporary inactivity, and thereby allow their own choice of cultured yeast to dominate the fermentation.


    Wine Yeast:


    Yeast cultured especially for winemaking, with such desirable attributes a as high alcohol tolerance, firmer sediment formation, and less flavor fluctuation. Wine yeasts are usually obtained from a winemaking/brewing specialty shop or by mail order.


    Source: Jack Keller

    Technorati Tags : , , , , ,  

    Powered By Qumana


    Winemaking Terms - Thin to Volatile Acidity

    Thursday, May 25, 2006



    A wine lacking body. A wine with a viscosity approximately the same as water.


    Titratable Acidity:


    Also called TA and sometimes total acidity, titratable acidity is the sum of the fixed and volatile acids present in a wine. This is determined by a chemical process called titration. The titratable acidity is usually expressed in terms of tartaric acid, even though the other acids are also measured. Titratable acidity is expressed either as a percentage or as grams per liter. For example, 0.7% TA is the same as 7 grams per liter (or 7 g/l) TA.


    Top Up:


    To add liquid (finished wine of the same type, grape juice, sweetened water, or plain water) to a wine after racking it to replace any volume lost in the sediments left behind. One can also top up by adding sanitized marbles or glass pebbles to the carboy, thereby displacing the lost volume.


    Turbinado Sugar:


    A raw sugar which has been partially processed, removing some of the surface molasses. It is a blond color with a mild brown sugar flavor that enhances some wine bases as no other sugar can.




    The air space between the surface of the wine and the bottom of the bung, cork or other closure. In a cask or barrel, it is the volume of wine missing, which if present would result in a full container of wine.




    The thick, unpleasant, almost syrupy texture of an overly sweet wine.




    Technically, any wine made from a single variety of grape (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel) or non-grape base (e.g.Santa Rosa Plum, Navajo Blackberry).




    "Sour wine," caused by vinegar-producing bacteria, most notably acetobacter. These bacteria are principally airborne, but are also carried by the so-called vinegar fly.


    Volatile Acid:


    Those acids created during fermentation or reduction processes (aging) which are not stable; they can be altered through further reduction or by evaporating from the wine altogether. Acetic acid and Butyric acid are the two most notable volatile acids in wine and contribute wholly or largely to the wine's volatile acidity and partially to its bouquet.


    Volatile Acidity:


    Also know as VA, volatile acidity is the that acidity produced by volatile acids as opposed to fixed acids. Fixed acids are those occurring naturally in the grape or fruit base, those added by the vintner, and those acids created furing fermentation which are stable -- fixed. Volatile acids are those created during fermentation or reduction processes (aging) which are not stable; they can be altered through further reduction or by evaporating from the wine altogether. Acetic acid and Butyric acid are the two most notable volatile acids in wine. VA contributes to a wine's bouquet, which is transitory, but if too intense will spoil it.


    Technorati Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

    Powered By Qumana

    Source: Jack Keller


    Beer News and Gadgets

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Rolling Rock Sold to Budweiser
    May 19, 2006 - Anheuser-Busch has closed the rumored deal to purchase the Rolling Rock beer brands, paying InBev $82 million and moving production to its Newark brewery.
    Rolling Rock was one of the first beers that we consumed in massive quantities.  It was cheap and a six pack on 16 ounce cans cost less than 2 bucks.  Hopefully, Bud won't screw it up.
    Using a 2 Liter Bottle as a Keg
    You have to check this out.  This guy has hooked up a mini-keg system using a 2 liter bottle.
    A Few Too Many
    Nice article about Sleeman Brewery and what has happened to it.  Real interesting read.

    Technorati Tags : , ,
    Powered By Qumana


    Winemaking Terms - Sweet Reserve to Texture

     Sweet Reserve:


    A sample of the original juice from which a wine is made, used to sweeten the finished wine after fermenting to dryness and stabilized. The sweet reserve is either refrigerated or frozen until needed. When making a sweet reserve from whole fruit, such as strawberries, peaches, or plums, the fruit must be crushed and pressed and the juice stood in a tall, clear, glass bottle in a refrigerator until the juice separates (i.e. pulp sediment settles to the bottom of the bottle). The clear juice is very carefully racked off the sediment and stored for the reserve. The sediment can be lightly pressed through a double layer of sanitized muslin cloth and the liquid obtained allowed to separate out again, with the clear juice again removed and stored with the sweet reserve. The advantage of using a sweet reserve to sweeten a stabilized dry wine is the it adds sweetness, fresh flavor, and natural aroma to the wine. It may also improve the color of the finished wine somewhat.




    A taste sensation most commonly associated in wines with sugars (glucose and fructose), glycerol, ethanol, and 2,3-butanediol (the latter in trace amounts). While the threshold for detecting sweetness (as sugars) is about 1% by weight, the threshold for classifying a wine as sweet is usually 2% by weight (specific gravity of 1.008) for a wine with 12% alcohol by volume. Sweetness does appear to soften some flavor components and blend with others to enhance their recognition. A wine with poor fruit flavor as a dry wine may possess more recognizable fruitiness when sweetened.


    Table Wine:


    A still wine, usually light to medium in body, dry to semi-dry, low to moderate in alcohol (10% to 13% by volume), and often served with meals. Also called dinner wine.


    Ads by




    Tannic acid, essential for good aging qualities and balance, gives most wines their "zest" or "bite." Tannin is found naturally in the stems, skins and pips (seeds) of most red and dark fruit such as grapes, elderberries, sloes, apples, and plums, but also in pear skins, oak leaves, and dark tea leaves. Most grains, roots and flowers used in winemaking lack any or sufficient tannin, so must be supplemented with grape tannin or tannin from another source. Wines containing too much tannin can be ameliorated by adding a little sugar or glycerine, fined with gelatine, or blended with another, softer wine.


    Tannisol Tablets:


    Proprietary product that contains potassium metabisulfite, ascorbic acid and tannin in premeasured amounts. The ascorbic acid is supposedly used to increase the effectiveness of sulfite (SO2). Actually, research has shown that SO2 protects wine better without ascorbic acid present. Use only as directed by the manufacturer.


    Tartaric Acid:


      A reddish acid found in grapes and several other fruit.




    A sensory perception almost totally localized on the tongue. Although there is some dispute over this, we most often perceive only four basic tastes -- sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness. The latter is seldom encountered in wines. The flavors perceived in wines are most often integrations of both odor and taste and can be often be altered by pinching the nose tightly and sipping the wine. Still, the loss of odors through evaporation can affect taste by concentrating a certain characteristic, such as sourness of certain acids.




    The impression on the palate delivered by dense, intense, and full-bodied wines.

    Technorati Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

     Powered By Qumana

    Source: Jack Keller


    Ooops, I Forgot The Yeast

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    You know, it is the little things in wine making that make or break your wine.  There have been times I have forgotten to add ingredients or I know one time I added too much yeast nutrient to the must.  Stupid me got teaspoon and tablespoon mixed up.  99% of the time, you can get away with it.  So, it's not 100% perfect.  You have 2 choices, either dump it or drink it.  Personally, i prefer to drink it.  Except one batch that was over oaked, nasty stuff.  Good thing I have plastic drain pipe 'cause that stuff would have eaten a whole in metal.
    I received an e-mail today from a novice winemaker that I want to share with you along with my response.  And, it is not to make fun of what he did but more of a heads up to keep the little things in mind when making your wineAlso, to let him know that we all have made mistakes.  Some of us choose to talk about them while others choose to forget them.
    I am a beginner winemaker. I tried to make a batch of Strawberry wine last summer and it turned to vinegar.  I forgot to add water to the airlock.
    I am now trying my second batch, however I have a problem. I started my must last Wednesday. Today I was going to check the S.G. and realized that I forgot to add the yeast. I feel like such an idiot. 
    I did add the yeast. Is there still hope for this batch or did I screw things up again? 
    Thanks for the e-mail.  Last summer I was talking with a friend who is a novice winemaker and he kept telling that his batch of wine still tasted like juice.  This was about 2 weeks after he started it and he couldn't figure out what was wrong.  We tossed around a few ideas of why his fermentation was stuck and then I asked him, "What yeast did you use?"  He replied, "oh geez, I forgot the yeast.".  So rest easy that your not the only one to make that mistake.

    As far as you batch being screwed up.  Depends on how you ferment.  If you use a closed system (carboy with an airlock) then adding yeast to it now should not be a problem.  If you use an open system, then you might have some problems with wild yeast.  I personally use a modified open system that consists of a 5 gallon bucket with a large grain bag tied over the top.  This keeps the large critters out but does not block any wild yeast.  I figure, if wild yeast is good enough for the Belgian beer makers, then it is good enough for me.

    Personally, I would say there is hope for your batch of wine, but of course, I am an optimist.  I also let my must rest for about a day before I even add the yeast so adding it a week later should not be too much of a problem.  Besides, this may even turn out to be one of your best wines yet. Have faith my friend and don't sweat it.  Just grab a glass of wine and relax. 
    Powered By Qumana


    Winemaking Terms - Starter Solution to Sur Lie Aging

    Starter Solution:


    A solution of water, juice, sugar, and nutrients into which a culture of yeast is introduced and encouraged to multiply as quickly as possible before adding to a must. The purpose of the starter solution is to achieve a greater density of yeast than contained in the original culture sample so that the cultured yeast will dominate the fermentation process, literally smothering out any wild yeast that might be present. It is also used to restart a Stuck Fermentation. 


    Still Wine:


    A finished, non-sparkling wine. A finished wine containing no noticeable carbonation. 


    Stuck Fermentation:


    A fermentation that has started but then stops before converting all fermentable sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide or before reaching the toxicity level of the particular yeast strain(s) involved. A stuck fermentation is usually due to an imbalance in the ingredients or to temperature extremes unacceptable to the yeast.




    A natural, crystalline disaccharide found in grapes, most fruit and many plants. This is the type of refined sugar obtained from sugar cane, sugar beets and other sources which, when added to a must or juice to make up for deficiencies in natural sugar, must be hydrolyzed (inverted) into Fructose and Sucrose by acids and enzymes in the yeast before it can be used as fuel for fermentation.




    Technically, a salt or ester of sulfurous acid, but more commonly, sulfur dioxide (SO2). Sulfite is the most effective and widely used preservative in winemaking. It preserves by safeguarding musts and wines against premature oxidation and microscopic life forms that could otherwise spoil wine. It preserves a wine’s freshness, helps maintain its color, and is essential for aging wines beyond their first year without deterioriation. It also inhibits wild yeasts, thereby allowing cultured wine yeasts to dominate the fermentation. Sulfites may be "bound" or "free." Bound SO2 combines with aldehyde compounds, those most responsible for oxidation in wines. Free SO2 results from the dissipation of active SO2 and is the only SO2 that provides antiseptic and oxidative protection to wines. The most efficient wat to add free SO2 to a must, juice or wine is by adding dissolved potassium metabisulfite to it. The effectiveness of free SO2 is dependent on the pH of the media to which it is added.




    A small, pale golden-green grape originating in Smyrna, Turkey. It is the most widely planted variety in California, where it goes by the name of Thompson Seedless. It is the common "white" or "golden" raisin sold in America.


    Sur Lie Aging:


    French for "on the lees", this is the process of leaving the lees in the wine for a few months to a year, accompanied by a regime of periodic stirring. Certain wines such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc benefit from autolysis because they gain complexity during the process that enhances their structure and mouthfeel, give them extra body, and increase their aromatic complexity. Aging sur lie with lees stirring can result in a creamy, viscous mouthfeel.



    Ads by


    Powered By Qumana

    Source: Jack Keller


    Wine and Beer Experiments

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    With the summer fast approaching us (at least in my neck of the woods), I've decided to cut back on the number of posts.  Beginning this week, I will post on Tuesday's and Thursday's until after Labor Day.  I made this decision so that I could spend more time enjoying the hobby of winemaking and homebrewing and to try several different experiments.
    Because I really don't like cleaning a bunch of bottles, my first experiment will be on bulk bottling.  The idea is to take either a 1 gallon or 2 gallon plastic container with a spigot and bottle the wine or beer in it.  Over the weekend, I started with 1 1/4 gallon container and filled it with strawberry wine and put it in the fridge.  So far there have been no problems and the wine tastes fine.  Another bulk bottling experiment will be taking beer and putting it into a 2 gallon container.  The idea is to have a mini-keg without out all of the expensive equipment.
    Other experiments include a tea wine, strawberry/raspberry combo, another attempt at mead (I would like to make a sweet mead) and maybe a watermelon wine.  Beer experiments are just on bulk bottling, storage, and priming.

    Technorati Tags : , , ,
    Powered By Qumana


    Winemaking Terms - Sodium Benzoate to Stablization

    Sodium Benzoate:

    Sold as "Stabilizing Tablets," sodium benzoate is used, one crushed tablet per gallon of wine, to stop future fermentation. It is used when active fermentation has ceased and the wine racked the final time after clearing. It is generally used with sweet wines and sparkling wines, but may be added to table wines which exhibit difficulty in maintaining clarity after fining. For sweet wines, the final sugar syrup and crushed tablet may be added at the same time. When using it to stabilize a wine, it must be used in conjunction with an aseptic dose of postassium metabisulfite (1/4 teaspoon per 5 gallons or 1 crushed and dissolved Campden tablet per gallon).

    Sodium Metabisulfite:

    One of two compounds commonly used to sanitize winemaking equipment and utensiles, the other being potassium metabisulfite. Its action, in water, inhibits harmful bacteria through the release of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a powerful antiseptic. It can be used for sanitizing equipment, but the U.S. government prohibits its inclusion in commercial wine and thus should not be used to sanitize the must from which wine is to be made. It is about 17.5% stronger than potassium metabisulfite and should be mixed accordingly.


    The Spainish system of maintain quality and style consistency in some fortified wines. One-quarter to one-third of the oldest wine is drawn off for bottling and replaced with the next oldest wine, which in turn is replaced with the next-yet oldest wine, and so on until the youngest wine is being used to replace the next youngest wine.


    A tart taste in wines, most often associated with acids and ethyl acetate. The degree of sourness in acid is a function of the pH of the wine and its titratable acidity. In technical terms, it is the hydrogen ion (actually, the hydronium ion) that stimulates the sour taste on the taste buds. The order of decreasing sourness og the primary prganic acids in wine are tartaric, malic, citric, lactic, and succinic. Wines with a pH less than 3.1 or a titratable acidity more than 0.9% will taste sour.

    French for silky. An incredibly smooth, lush, and finely textured wine. See Soyeux.)
    Sparkling Wine:
    Any wine that has been allowed to complete the final phase of its fermentation in the bottle so that the carbon dioxide produced is trapped within. A carbonated wine, on the other hand, is a still wine that has been artifically carbonated by infusing carbon dioxide into the wine before or during the bottling process.
    Specific Gravity:
    A measure of the density or mass of a solution, such as must or wine, as a ratio to an equal volume of a standardized substance, such as distilled water. Before fermentation, the density of the must or juice is high because sugar is dissolved in it, making it thicker than plain water. As the sugar is converted by the yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the density (specific gravity) drops. A hydrometer measures specific gravity (s.g. for short), with an s.g. of 1.000 being the calibrated density of distilled water at a specific temperature (usually 59 or 60 degrees F.). Because alcohol is actually less dense than water, the finial s.g. of a wine can be less than 1.000, or lighter than water.


    Beverages with high alcohol content obtained through distillation. Examples are brandy, gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey.

    A state attained by wine when all fermentation has ceased at 60 degrees fahrenheit

    The process of rendering a wine stable, either naturally or through intervention.

    Powered By Qumana
    Source: Jack Keller


    Making Beer the Easy Way

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    I found this tutorial at  It doesn't get any easier than this except for maybe buying a commercially made beer.  This is really for the true beginner and uses a lot of techinques that I have used and still use for making beer.  One thing to be careful about is using the plastic water jug.  Most companies will not take them back if you use them for making beer or wine.  Also, I never use a bottle brush on my plastic jugs instead I use Oxi-Clean.  Oxi-Clean will take out and clean the plastic jug almost 100% of the time and if you do need to clean inside the neck, you a soft cloth.

    So, you've considered brewing your own beer but you're not yet willing to drop the cash for the entry level kit just yet.  With a few simple pieces of equipment and ingredients here's how you can brew your own mini batch.  In just a couple of weeks you can taste for yourself if homebrewing is a hobby you want to take to the next level.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the entry level brew kits are a good value.  They include some special equipment not used here that will make things easier.  But, will you enjoy the beer or find the brewing process rewarding?  I think so.  This project will allow you to find out for yourself.

    * Brew pot - any large kitchen pot that will hold a couple of gallons of water with room to spare to avoid boiling over.
    * Kitchen strainer - to strain grains and hops before going to the fermenter
    * Kitchen thermometer
    * Large funnel
    * Rolling pin - for crushing the grain
    * 3 gallon container of bottled water - this will provide you with the water to make your beer and serve as your fermentation container
    * Bottling container - An empty container of at least 3 gallons...could be another empty water bottle or a clean, scratch-free, food grade plastic bucket.
    * 3 feet of 3/8" clear poly-vinyl tubing - for siphoning and fermentation air lock
    * Bottles - there are a lot of options here and I'll cover some of them in the bottling step later

    Technorati Tags : , ,
    Powered By Qumana


    Winemaking Terms - Sediment to Skunky


    The grainy, bitter-tasting deposit sometimes found in bottles of older wines. Sediment is the natural separation of bitartrates, tannins, and color pigments that occurs as wines age and may indicate a wine of superior maturity. Also known as Crust, especially in port wines.

    The term denoting a wine as neither dry nor sweet, but closer to dry than sweet. Although usually reserved for sparkling wines, it is gaining frequent use describing still wines. A wine is usually perceived as semi-dry when its specific gravity is in the range of 1.000 to 1.003. The French call such wine demi-sec, which has been bastardized into the half English, half French semi-sec.

    The term denoting a wine as neither dry nor sweet, but closer to sweet than dry. Although usually reserved for sparkling wines, it is gaining frequent use describing still wines. A wine is usually perceived as semi-sweet when its specific gravity is in the range of 1.004 to 1.007. The French term for this type of wine is demi-doux.

    A table wine that has become sherry-like due to oxidation.

    An incredibly smooth, lush, and finely textured wine. 

    A severe off-odor caused by mercaptan formation.


    Source: Jack Keller


    Winemaking Terms - Rotling to Secondary Fermentation Vessel

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006


    A rose-colored wine made by mixing red and white grapes together at the crush.


    A paper, foil, mylar, or plastic packet of dehydrated, freeze-dried, dried, or active dried yeast. A sachet typically holds 5 grams of product, although 35- to 100-gram sachets of some products are available.


    An odor in wines, attributed to lactic acid, that have undergone excessive malo-lactic fermentation. This fault is most often found in wines made from malic-dominate bases (such as blackberry) which undergo unchecked malo-lactic fermentation.


    French for dry. A wine becomes dry when all or most of the sugar within it has been converted through fermentation into alcohol and carbon dioxide. A wine is usually perceived as dry when residual sugar is at or below a specific gravity of 0.999.

    Second Wine:

    A wine made from the pomace or strained pulp obtained from making a first wine. A second wine will require that the pomace or pulp be ameliorated with water, sugar, yeast nutrients, and possibly acid and tannin, but usually not pectic enzyme. Sulfites, however, should be introduced at once to achieve and unbound sulfur level of 45-55 ppm. A second wine cannot usually be made in the same volume as the original wine from which the pomace or pulp was obtained, but a volume of 1/3 to 2/3 the original is usuallly attained.


    A jug, jar, bottle, demi-john, or carboy in which the second phase of alcohol fermentation takes place (the first phase is the primary phase). This vessel typically has a wide body and tapered neck leading up to a small opening which can be sealed with an air lock. Also known as the secondary fermentation vessel.
    Secondary Fermentation:
    A second alcohol fermentation by yeast performed in a champagne bottle secured with a special, hollow closure secured with a wire "cage," the purpose of which is to trap the carbon dioxide produced by the fermentation and force it to be absorbed into the wine, or a bacterial fermentation called malolactic fermentation. The result is a Sparkling Wine. This secondary fermentation can actually be a continuation of the fermentation by the original yeast inoculation or can be induced at bottling time by inoculating a sweetened still wine with a second yeast especially adept at fermenting under pressure. It is NOT correct to refer to the alcohol fermentation in a secondary fermentation vessel (e.g. a carboy) as a secondary fermentation although novices to the hobby often do. See Primary Fermentation for contrast. However, a malolactic fermentation is correctly a secondary fermentation.
    Secondary Fermentation Vessel:
    A jug, jar, bottle, demi-john, or carboy in which the second phase of fermentation takes place. This vessel typically has a wide body and tapered neck leading up to a small opening which can be sealed with an air lock. Also known as the secondary.

    Source: Jack Keller


      © Blogger templates Newspaper II by 2008

    Back to TOP