The Body of Wine: What is it?

When you are first starting out in the wine-tasting world, you come face to face with the intensity and complexity of certain wines as you taste them. One of the things that your palate will start to recognize is the thickness and texture of the wine in your mouth. We identify this mouthfeel as the body of the wine. It can be difficult to explain a wine’s body because it is not as obvious as sweetness or acidity.

Glass with red wine

The body of wine can be described in three ways:

When the body of a wine is light, think of drinking a glass of water. It’s thin, goes down easily, and is smooth.

When the body of a wine is medium, think of drinking a glass of skim milk. The consistency is thicker, but not too thick, and sticks around in your mouth a little longer.

Lastly, when the body of a wine is full, think of drinking a glass of whole milk. This would be the thickest, with the longest-lasting finish.

Light-bodied wines

Light-bodied wines are light and delicate on your palate making them popular during the summer because they are crisp and refreshing.

Medium-bodied wines

These wines are known for being “in-between” because there is no true cut off for where they actually sit on the tasting spectrum. Sometimes they can be more light-to-medium bodied, or they can be medium-to-full. These wines are usually the best to pair with food because they have the perfect balance of tannins and acidity.

Full-bodied wines

These robust and powerful natured wines are bold. These would include deep red wines and ports, and these characteristics come from their skins which are packed with tannins. If you taste a full-bodied wine, you’ll notice it leaves a coated finish in your mouth.

What gives a wine its body?

Tannins, sugar, and acids all contribute and determine the overall body of a wine. Something that can help you determine the body of a wine is its alcohol level. Alcohol adds to the intensity and thickness of a wine. The more alcohol that wine has, the heavier it becomes and the bigger mouthfeel it offers.  The grape itself determines the body, starting in the skins. Thick-skinned grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon contain a lot more extract than Pinot Noir, which is thin-skinned. Production methods also impact the weight of the wine as well, say if the wine was oaked. White wines tend to be much lighter than red wines, but there can be fuller-bodied white wines – like buttercream chardonnay.

Can I make my own?

Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help you make the wine of your dreams! The Spring Chilean winemaking season starts in late April, early May. Secure your winemaking grapes or juices and give us a call at (877) 812-1137 to speak with one of our Musto Crush Crew members. We can get you set up with everything you need and provide customer support along the way to ensure your success!

Aging Your Wine

Bulk Aging

As seen in and written for Winemaker Magazine

Written By Christina Musto-Quick

wine tank-winemaking instructions-wine recipe-aging wine-how to age wine-musto wine grape

Aging your wine is not the most exciting winemaking topic, but it is a critical topic. Aging wine is considered from the time after your fermentation is completed through the time spent in the bottle before consumption. The three basic goals of aging your wines are to assure stability, to correct a flaw or fault, and to evolve the wine style by increasing complexity, flavor, and aroma. The goal of this article is to give you a deeper insight into the benefits of aging your wine, no matter your winemaking style or skill level.

Considerations of Aging Wine

Let’s start with looking at each of the factors that affects the aging process: Time, temperature, oxygen, oak, yeast lees, pH, the composition of the wine, and wine stability.


Different aging styles require different allotments of time. Aging a Bordeaux with high acid and high tannins will take much longer to age than a softer California Cabernet. Grapes grown in cooler climates tend to need more time to age due to their higher acid and tannin structure, whereas grapes from a hotter region can usually be enjoyed earlier. Of course, as I write that, I am left thinking about how subjective that sentence is. Normally we are ready to bottle our whites 7–8 months after fermentation. I like my reds to go one year of bulk aging before bottling, and longer is better.


Just as all chemical reactions are influenced by temperature, so are the reactions during wine aging. Wine aging is best from 58–70 °F (14–21 °C). You don’t want to over chill or over heat the wine during the aging process. You could lose a lot of positive aromas and flavors that way. If you don’t have a natural “ideal” temperature in your cellar, I would suggest installing an air conditioning unit in your wine cellar to handle those warm summer days. The colder winter temperatures will not hurt the wine as much as the summer heat. The biggest factor is to avoid temperature fluctuations from hot to cold. Wine likes to age at a steady temperature.


Excessive exposure to oxygen during aging can have a negative effect on your wine. The introduction of small amounts of oxygen during the aging process can help soften your wine and stabilize the color in red wine. This is the benefit of the barrel, as it allows micro oxidation through the staves. Too much oxygen can lead to off flavors (acetaldehyde) and the browning/pinking of the color. Too much oxygen will cause your free SO2 levels to drop, which can then cause oxidized qualities in your wine (acetaldehyde — nuttiness, Sherry characteristic). The more phenolic material in the wine, the more oxygen the wine can safely absorb. This is why white wines are so susceptible to oxygen contact such as browning, whereas red wines carry more phenolic properties and are less likely to brown or have negative effects so quickly.

It is said that a wine is “saturated” with oxygen at about 6 mL of oxygen per liter of wine, or 8 mg/L, or 8 ppm. Single saturation examples include racking, movement to tank or barrel, fining, filtration, and bottling. How do you measure this? With a dissolved oxygen meter or, some wine grape and juice wholesalers have the testing equipment to do it for you on site. How do you control these saturations and not over saturate your wine? Limit headspace, stay vigilant about topping off your barrels, utilize inert gas to flush out air, measure and adjust your SO2 levels every 6 weeks, and monitor your saturation levels.


Many wine styles depend on oak aging. Oak aging highly impacts the aroma and flavor profile of the wine. This is because of the flavor the oak imparts by itself and the complexity added to the wine through micro oxidation. Barrels can be challenging — you need to properly clean them, swell them, and consistently keep track of them by topping off your wine. If you have the funds and the time to monitor and cultivate your barrel I would highly suggest purchasing one. If you do not, there are some great alternatives we will discuss later in this article.

Why is aging in an oak barrel so great? Wood vessels allow limited oxygen exposure, allow for slight evaporation (hence needing to top off your barrels), and add flavor components and complexities. Something to consider is the size of the oak barrel you purchase. If you purchase a new barrel smaller than 30 gallons (114 L) then you need to taste from your barrel every couple of weeks. This is because the less surface area you have, the more flavor extraction you will get from the barrel. Obviously, the younger the barrel the more flavor extraction will occur. As time goes on (after 3 or 4 years), the barrel will become neutral, meaning the oak extraction is greatly reduced. However, the barrel itself is still useful, as it allows the wine to mature and adds complexity to the wine. Also, cleaning your oak barrels is VERY important. Barrels can harbor microbes and it can be difficult to sanitize them if not properly cleaned.

Yeast Lees

Aging on the lees is a great practice for white wines. The most popular wine to age on the lees is Chardonnay, but winemakers are aging Sauvignon Blanc (France), Albariño (Spain), Muscadet (France), and Champagne (France) on the lees too.

I spoke with Kristen Parsons of Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, Connecticut about her Estate Reserve Chardonnay crafted in the French Meursault style and why she ages it on the lees. After aging in barrels for primary fermentation, a secondary malolactic fermentation is carried out along with sur lie aging.

“The wine remains on the fine, silky lees that are composed of mostly autolyzed yeast cells. I stir the barrels mixing up these lees into the wine, daily, weekly, and then monthly for ten months. All of this is carried out for stylistic reasons. This attention creates a wine with a smoother structure and mouthfeel, increased body, and aromatic complexity. The resulting wine is layered with a rich and creamy mouthfeel,” Parsons said. “Another bonus it that the lees absorb oxygen, which not only enhances the character of the wine but aids in protection as well.”


pH is a very important factor in all stages of winemaking. If you adjust anything in your grapes before fermentation, it is the pH. When it comes to aging your wine, a high pH is dangerous as the wine is vulnerable to spoilage organisms. It is important to make sure the SO2 is in balance with the pH. The SO2 effectiveness is critical to color and freshness, especially in white wines. The SO2 and pH balance also INHIBITS the growth and activity of microorganisms. A pH of 3.8 is considered a critical range for Brettanomyces (barnyard), Lactobacillus (mousy/acetic acid), and Pediococcus (overly diacetyl). You do not want to be in that range. So make sure to keep track of your pH and SO2 levels. For red wines you want to be around a 3.5 pH and for white wines you want to be around 3.1–3.3 pH.

Composition of the Wine

Starting with a good wine is key to your wine aging and finishing success. Starting with a faulted wine will result in an uphill battle. Always pay attention to your fermentations and cleanliness in your home winery. If you have a wine with negative characteristics, get it tested to see what exactly is going on. Some suppliers offer sensory tests, there are also companies that can give you the chemical breakdown of your wine that you can utilize. Sometimes a little micro oxidation is exactly what the doctor ordered. Other times you might need to introduce a chemical over time to help clean up what’s going on.

Wine Stability

The wine needs to be stable — meaning proper SO2 binding, pH levels, cold stability (tartrate stability), heat stability (protein haze), combination of tannin molecules (“polymerization”), and the combination of color molecules (“polymerization”), and stabilization of color. Adjusting and aging your wine properly helps ensure that your wine stays safe in the bottle.

Benefits of Bulk Aging

There are many benefits to aging your wine as bulk. One, is the ability to correct a problem. Do not bottle your wine until you have removed faults and flaws. If you have bitter or astringent tannins in a young red wine, you can bench test fining trials.

The second is the stylistic choices you get to play with and experiment with. All wines will evolve and release more complex flavors and aromas over time. Depending on if you decide to do any oak infusions or age in an oak barrel, these practices will help impart interesting and complex flavors to your wine. Conversely, if you decide to age in a stainless tank or glass, your wine will contain a bright freshness.

The third benefit is that it allows for blending possibilities with other wines. This is one of the most fun parts about winemaking in my opinion. If you age your wine you have time to do bench trials and figure out ways to try to impart more complexity in your wine by blending other wines in your cellar. The goal of aging is to increase complexity in your wine and you have a lot of options to play with to introduce complexities.

Equipment Options


There are a few options you can try when aging your wine in glass. However, if you are aging your wine in glass you want to keep in mind that you want to keep your wine away from the light. Too much light in your cellar can impact the color saturation of your wine. Whatever option you choose, always top off your storage vessel to avoid oxidation.

Demijohns are a great glass option. They have been used by winemakers for many years. They come in multiple sizes, can be used for winemaking, cider, and depending on the style, olive curing. It  is easy to do an oak infusion with a demijohn. There are a few ways to do this. You can use fishing line and a muslin hop bag filled with oak chips, use an oak infusion tube filled with oak chips, or use fishing line and a stave, spiral, or WineStix® to impart oak flavors.

Demijohns can be difficult to move around so I’d suggest getting a plant caddy and putting the demijohn on the caddy so it’s easier to move. Please note that the bottom of the demijohn is very thin glass so it can break easily, especially when filled with wine. Be careful when moving these, they are deceptively secure looking with the outside basket.

Demijohn Sizes: Demijohns are a large glass bottle that is narrow at the top and curves out into a big tear shape at the bottom. Each demijohn is equipped with a plastic basket or braided plastic basket. Some demijohns come with spigots for tasting access to the wine. They come in a variety of sizes, the most popular for winemaking are 10LTR, 25LTR, and 54LTR.

Carboys are one of my favorite options: They are inexpensive, come in an array of sizes, are easy to use, easy to clean, easy to add oak infusions, and you can see what’s going on with your wine . It’s important to see if you are accumulating a lot of sludge at the bottom of your carboy. This means it’s most likely time to rack your wine. Carboys can also be a little tough to move around when full. I’d suggest getting a plant caddy or putting your carboy inside a milk carton crate to help you move it around your cellar. Winemaker Frank Renaldi of Musto Wine Grape Company says, “Carboys are a great storage vessel when you start making wine 5- or 10-gallons (19- or 38-L) at a time. I suggest you go to a variable capacity tank when you are up to three to five carboys of the same wine. It is easier to maintain one tank versus five carboys, such as racking, filtering, additives, and SO2 additions.”

Carboy sizes: Carboy look like a water cooler water jug. They are a thicker glass than demijohns but do not come with spigots. Carboys come in a variety of sizes 3 gallon, 5 gallon, and 6 gallon.

Food-Grade Containers

PET carboys are a popular vessel, especially for those who are working with kits. These are lightweight, making them easier to lift and move around your cellar, and they will not break like glass. However, cleaning these can pose a problem. When cleaning your PET carboy you can create grooves in the plastic that can eventually be a home for bacteria, no matter how much you scrub. Keep that in mind when cleaning these and try not to scrub too hard or scratch the inside of the PET carboy.

ROTO Barrels are food-grade plastic barrels. They are great because they give that barrel vibe to your cellar without breaking the bank. You can add oak infusions, it’s easy to rack in and out of, and gives a great look to your cellar. However, just like the PET carboy, you have to be conscious of how you clean it to help avoid creating any homes for bacteria.

Flex Tanks are created from a polyethylene food-grade safe plastic. They give the winemaker the ability to utilize is as an aging vessel that is permeable like a barrel but is in a shape that is easier to store in their cellar. There are two different maturation styles that allow the winemaker to decide how much oxidation they want released into their wine . These are maturation weight, which allows a level of oxygen transfer on par with a second year barrel, and a heavyweight level which allows less oxygen transfer, approximately 50% less than the maturation weight.

Oak Barrels & Infusions

Oak barrel aging is a hot topic for winemakers. There are many different thoughts on which oak to use and how long to age in an oak barrel. Rick Lanza of Wooden Valley Winery, in Fairfield, California says that he barrel ages his Cabernet Sauvignon first and then bottle ages it for up to a year. “We prefer barrel aging for red wines because it allows the tannins to refine and become finer grained, and you get the micro oxidation through the barrel, so that helps soften the wine.”

When using oak barrels you definitely want to taste often to avoid over-oaking, make sure the barrels are topped-off monthly, properly manage your S02 levels, and be patient — it will be time well spent. Harry Hansen, Winemaker at Calistoga, California’s Sterling Vineyards says, “Barrel aging allows for more rapid development and softening of tannins, while bottle aging allows development of secondary aromas. Wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, or Tannat can accept longer aging in barrel than Pinot Noir because they have more pigment and tannin to begin with, so generally Pinot goes to bottle younger.

Flavor considerations for oak barrels consist of the type of oak (French, American, or other), the age of the barrel, the toast level, if there was a different type of alcohol aged in there previously, and the number of times it’s been used. All of these factors impart different flavors.

Barrel alternatives include staves, chips, oak powder, spheres, oak spirals, WineStix®, and more. Each has its pluses and minuses, but just like an oak barrel you want to taste your wine regularly to make sure you are imparting the flavors you want in your wine. WineMaker digital members can read more about these options at: https://winemakermag.com/article/beyond-the-barrel.

Variable Capacity Stainless Steel Tanks

Variable capacity tanks are another winemaker favorite. Hansen says he prefers using stainless steel or glass vessels for white wines because they are “impenetrable to oxygen, and the wines age most slowly. This is appropriate for delicate whites like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.”

Stainless steel tanks are also great for bulk aging red wines. They protect your wine, have variable levels of volume, have a sample tap you can utilize, are easy to clean, easy to infuse with oak or other products, and pretty much last forever. If you can invest in a stainless steel tank you won’t regret it!

Quick Tips: I’ve outlined a lot of equipment above but just as important as it is to find the right aging vessel for you, it’s also important to maintain your airlocks and bungs. If you don’t keep your airlocks full or bungs clean you are asking for bad things to happen with your wine. These may be small items but they can introduce big problems if not maintained. Also, always have different sized glass jugs in your cellar. This helps you manage your topping off needs without losing any wine to over-oxidation. Lastly, keep track of your SO2 Levels. Oxygen isn’t your friend and you don’t want your wine to spoil while it ages. Remember wine always wants to turn to vinegar, and it is a living product. You need to protect it!

Bulk vs. Bottle Aging

It has been said by many winemakers that complexity increases in the bottle. However, there is a point where the wine in bottle will start to lose its luster. This has to do with the type of wine, its SO2 levels, pH level, storage temperatures and its exposure to light. Winemaker Frank Renaldi says, “I am a big believer of aging wines in bulk — either tanks or barrels. I find the wine develops much better as a “team of bottles” in one vessel. Once the wine hits the bottle, it ages as a single entity. It ages in a different way, especially reds, but does it on its own.”

Winemaker Harry Hansen says, “Aging in bottle is subjective. Wines that are bigger and blacker generally can handle more cork time than light reds, which in turn can handle more cork time than delicate whites. At some point, tannins are softened, fruit characters have receded, and youth is a memory. Wines can still be very good, because what is lost in freshness is often replaced by layers of aroma. The eventual fate of every wine is to become vinegar, but as slowly as possible, please.”

So there you have it! A lot of things to think about regarding the aging of your wine, but all worth taking into consideration. I hope this information has helped shed some light on aging your wines, why it’s important, and how you can play and experiment with it.

SIDEBAR – Products to help avoid the need to age so long

Looking to impart age without aging your wines? No problem. I understand that sometimes you just want to enjoy your wine as soon as possible. If your wine has any harsh tannins or needs some “rounding out” I’d suggest looking into the following products.


Noblesse is a natural nutrient that is used to help soften wines. It can be used pre- or post-fermentation. It is great if you need to soften a high-alcohol wine or round out a wine that is too high in acid or tannin. Noblesse will help soften your wine’s mouthfeel. Sometimes our grapes are high in Brix and we can’t help but have a high-alcohol wine. Noblesse will help soften your wine’s mouthfeel giving the perception of a rounder, silky mouthfeel, while reducing any sulfur smells and burning sensation from the high alcohol.

Gum Arabic

Gum Arabic is a tartrate stabilizer that helps soften the perception of astringent and bitter tannins. It also helps stabilize your wine’s color. This is a great tool for when your wine tastes that little bit “too young.” It can help a wine taste another year older by just one simple addition.

Super Smoother

Super Smoother is great tool that’s ideal for home winemakers because it comes in small packages intended for 6-gallon (23-L) batches. It contains glycerin and liquid oak extract. The combination of these two adds a subtle oak flavor while softening harsh tannins and smoothing out wine mouthfeel.

Tannin FT Rouge

Tannin FT Rouge is derived from highly reactive tannins from exotic woods and chestnut. I usually suggest using this pre-fermentation to help preserve the natural tannins from the grape, help stabilize color, and enhance mouthfeel. You can use this post-fermentation but you will have to wait 3–6 weeks for the addition to show up in your wine. A simple nutrient to add to your primary fermentation schedule that can help you during the winemaking process.

For more information regarding the Fall Harvest please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or give us a call at 877-812-1137. We are looking forward to helping you with your next great wine!

Wine Grape Spotlight – Malbec

Malbec is a grape variety with a deep, inky color, producing dry red wines that boast robust tannins and a long, smooth finish.


Where is Malbec from?

Malbec was almost exclusively grown in France, where it played a primary role as one of the main Bordeaux grapes. The climate and pests in France did not allow for Malbec to perform to its utmost potential. Struggling to thrive, growers saw it as weak, finicky, and susceptible to disease as well as rot. It is mainly associated with Argentina and Chile now because it thrives there. It took well to the climate, excelling in the high elevation and heat, making it one of the most widely planted grapes. In the United States, you can find the majority of wine grape plantings in California, yet Malbec only makes up for 0.5% of those plantings.

Malbec Characteristics

This grape can yield a wide range of fruit aromas that vary widely depending on the climate they are grown in. Cooler climates like France and Washington state yield black cherry, raspberry, and plum aromas. For warmer climates like Chile, you’ll get more blackberry, blueberry, plum, and black cherry. They’re juicy and jammy, with notes of vanilla, tobacco, dark chocolate, and oak. They have medium acid and moderate levels of tannins. Chilean Malbec’s boast with red fruit flavors like cherry, raspberry and have floral and slight earthy notes.

Can I make my own?

Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help you make the wine of your dreams! The Spring Chilean winemaking season starts in late April, early May. Secure your Malbec and give us a call at (877) 812-1137 to speak with one of our Musto Crush Crew members. We can get you set up with everything you need and provide customer support along the way to ensure your success!

Valentine’s Day Wine Pairings and Recipes

Valentine’s Day Wine Pairings and Recipes

With Valentine’s Day around the corner we’ve compiled some of our favorite sweet wine and food pairing recipes.


Wine and Candy Pairings


Wine Infused Strawberries


Red Wine Infused Cupcakes

red wine cupcakes


Shirley’s White Chocolate Chip Cookies and Moscato

A Guide to Cabernet Sauvignon

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon - wine - winemaking - how to make wine

Known as the king of red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys the same regal status in California as it does in its native home of Bordeaux, France. Californian Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be more fruit-forward and mellow, with rich dark fruit notes. The most common aromatic and flavor components found in this varietal are plum, black cherry, blueberry as well as warm spice, vanilla, black pepper, and tobacco. Aside from being known for its dark color and full body, it’s known for often being over 13.5% in alcohol content. The average alcohol content of a Cab from California floats around 14.5%. At Musto Wine Grape we carry a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from multiple AVAs in California, as well as all of the yeasts, nutrients, and equipment you’ll need.

What kind of yeast should I use when making Cabernet Sauvignon?

*Note that full expression of the desired characteristics for any of the following yeast strains is based on proper care and feeding if the yeasts, along with using quality fruit and good winemaking practices. It is also strongly recommended that Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K are used as well as temperature management throughout the entire fermentation. As always, if you need assistance with any part of your winemaking process, do not hesitate to reach out to us at sales@juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can assist with any product recommendations, procedures, or problems.

BM45 yields a big mouthfeel, notes of cherry liquor, rose petal, jam, plum, berry as well as earthy and spicy elements. It offers color stability and helps to minimize vegetative characteristics.

BDX is an all-around great choice for berry, plum, and jam characteristics. It has a moderate fermenting rate and offers good color retention. By re-enforcing existing tannins, it develops structure in the wine. Because of this, we advise to not use with unripe fruit.

RP15 emphasizes the berry aspects of the fruit, along with color stability, increased mouthfeel, and agreeable tannins.

D254 yields a big mouthfeel and rounds tannins as well as intense fruit. It has a focus on berry and jam characteristics, but more so of dried fruit than fresh. It’s also great for color stability and adds body to blends.

D80 offers big volume and fine grain tannins. It is great for encouraging more positive tannin intensity to a blend.

Where do you source your Cabernet Sauvignon from?

We offer Cabernet Sauvignon from multiple AVA’s within California and Washington:

Lanza-Musto Vineyards in Suisun Valley, CA (Valley, 169, 15, and Koch)

Mettler Family Ranch in Lodi, CA

Napa Valley, CA

Washington State (Clone 33)

Sonoma County, CA (Chalk Hill)

Amador, CA

King’s River, CA

Paso Robles, CA

Central Valley, CA

Is there a certain winemaking procedure specific to Cabernet Sauvignon?

You can follow our Red Wine Grape Procedure which you can find here, if you are using juice you can find the procedure here and if you are using frozen must, here. The procedure is standard for making red wines, but using the proper yeasts and nutrients specific for Cabernet Sauvignon and consistent monitoring will have the biggest impact on your final wine.

Where can I buy grapes, juice, or must?

At Musto Wine Grape Company, all red grape varieties are available in 36lb cases, in frozen must by request, or in 6-gallon fresh juice pails. For Sterile Juice options that can be shipped year-round and without refrigeration click here.

Finally, if you need the best options and equipment suited for you and your winemaking goals, email sales@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812 – 1137 to speak with one of our Musto Crush Crew members who can help. We are here to provide all of the winemaking products you need to make the wine of your dreams, as well as the customer support to ensure your success!

Red, Red Wine Infused Cupcakes

Have you ever wanted to drink your wine and eat it too?

Well here’s your chance!

red wine cupcakes

We teamed up with local baker The Mixing Bowl by Jules to create this recipe. These chocolate cupcakes are infused with our homemade red wine, filled with a raspberry and wine chocolate ganache, and topped with cream cheese frosting.

Decadent? Yes! But sometimes you just need to treat yourself!

Here is what you need:


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chocolate cocoa
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 cup of water (boil)


  • ½ cup of cream
  • ½ cup of fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup of red wine
  • 1 ½ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • 2 sticks of salted butter
  • 8 oz of cream cheese
  • 6 cups of powdered sugar
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and yields approx. 24 cupcakes.
  2. Bring one cup of water to a boil on your stove top. Once it starts boiling turn the heat off and let it cool down.
  3. Next you’re going to start making the batter. Pour the sugar, eggs, and vanilla into your mixer and blend.
  4. Once the ingredients are fully incorporated, add the flour and cocoa, one cup at a time.
  5. Next you’ll add in the vegetable oil and slowly pour in the red wine while mixer is on.
  6. After that, add the salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until everything is blended. Don’t over mix!
  7. Turn the mixer back on and slowly pour the water into the batter. The batter will be thin.
  8. Next place your cupcake liners in your pans. You’ll want to fill each about ½ way full. Tip: If you have a cookie scooper, use that to pour batter otherwise a spoon will work!
  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the top is domed and sturdy. Once they are done let them cool for at least 30 minutes before filling and frosting.

Raspberry wine ganache

red wine cupcakes

  1. Pour your cream and raspberries into a sauce pan on medium heat. Use a spoon to break down the raspberries while they are heating up.
  2. Pour in the red wine and continue to stir and let mixture come to a boil. Once it starts bubbling, turn off the heat.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until incorporated.
  4. Wait at least an hour for the ganache to thicken up or refrigerate overnight.

Cream Cheese frosting

red wine cupcakes

  1. Add both butter and cream cheese to mixer and mix on the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add each cup of powdered sugar one at a time and blend until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Now the fun part…building your cupcake

Once your cupcakes are cool and your ganache is thicker, you can either fill your cupcakes with ganache or dip the top – it’s up to you!

  1. Take a knife and cut out the centers of your cupcake and save the top of it!
  2. Using a spoon or a piping bag if you have one, fill the centers with the chocolate ganache. If you refrigerate it overnight, you’ll want to heat it up for 30 seconds to 1 minute before adding.
  3. Put the top back on and cover the ganache!
  4. Next you can, either frost with a knife or use your favorite piping tip and swirl! For the finishing touch, add a raspberry for garnish!

red wine cupcakes

And finally ENJOY your cupcakes with your home made wine!

The Musto Crush Crew certainly enjoyed these cupcakes! 🙂

red wine cupcakes

red wine cupcakes

red wine cupcakes

red wine cupcakes

Ready to make your own Wine? Musto Wine Grape is here to supply you with everything you need to make the wine of your dreams. Email us at sales@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can get you started!

Wine Grape Spotlight: Lanza-Musto Barbera

Our Barbera is flourishing in Suisun Valley. The LMV Barbera wine grape produces good yields and is known for its deep color, full-body, low tannins, and high levels of acid. Rolling in at 24.5 Brix we can’t wait to get winemaking!  This Italian-style wine should be enjoyed relatively young. LMV Barbera wine gives off notes of dark cherry, plum, and boysenberry. In the past we’ve used a slight amount of French Oak to enhance the supple tannins and hints of vanilla.

Make sure to pick up a few cases this week to make at home!


Yeast Suggestions:

  • VRB
    • VRB helps bring out ripe fruit, jammy notes, hazelnut, and dried plums. It helps soften harsh tannins, softens high acid, and adds a little extra complexity mid palate. This yeast bodes great color stability and is a great option for your Lanza-Musto Barbera.
  • BRL97
    • BRL97 was created for Italian wine grapes. It is a vigorous fermenter with a high alcohol tolerance. It enhances the fruity notes of the grape, while helping balance out the palate. Another great option for your Lanza-Musto Barbera.


Winemaking Steps:

  1. Sanitize and Crush and Destem – Inspect your grapes. Crush and destem into clean and sanitized food grade 50LTR fermenting tub. Always allow an extra 20% of volume for fermentation purposes as the wine will “expand” throughout fermentation. Always rinse your fermentation vessel with a sanitizing strength potassium metabisulfite solution (2oz/gallon or 3tbsp/gallon). Make sure that the sanitizing solution touches all the surfaces of the fermentation vessel and that the vessel is completely emptied out of all sanitizing solution after. Shake free any drops as best you can from the fermentation vessel. Having remaining sulfite liquid in the vessel will prohibit fermentation. Do not rinse the sanitizer off with water after sanitizing as that will reintroduce bacteria to the environment.
  2. Once all of the grapes are crushed, try to accurately measure your quantity of must. Add ¼ tsp of potassium metabisulfite for every 5 gallons of must that you have. Mix up the must thoroughly.
  3.  ALWAYS record the additions you make to your grape must!
  4. Wait for 6-8 hours after the sulfite addition and then add color pro to the must. Always mix it with water to create a 10% solution (if you use 5mls of enzyme, mix it with 45mls of water). The water allows it to better circulate throughout the must. Allow the pectic enzyme to work for 12 hours before yeast set.
  5. Twenty four hours after crushing the grapes, mix the container thoroughly and take and record your measurements. Measure Brix, pH, and TA. If you need to adjust your must at all, this is the time to do it. Ideally your Brix should be between 23-28 degrees, the pH between 3.4-3.7, and the TA between 6-7g/L. Your initial Brix reading, multiplied by .55, will give you a close estimate of your ending alcohol by volume percentage.
  6. If you would like to use fermentation tannins (FT Rouge, oak dust) or fermentation nutrients such as Opti-Red, add them after measurements and adjustments have been made. Mix any of these ingredients in thoroughly.
  7. After measurements have been taken and any adjustments have been made, it is time to set yeast if you are using a cultured yeast strain. Follow the yeast set directions on the packet explicitly.
  8. After you get to temperature and add your yeast, you may cover the vessel lightly with an old sheet or towel or place the lid gently on top of the bucket.
  9. Obtain a must punch tool, a long stainless steel spoon, or your bare hands, and sanitize your tool or hands with sulfite sanitizer. This is what you will use to “punch down” or mix up the must three times a day. Try to mix everything very well, pushing all of the skins back down to the bottom, getting them very wet, and bringing up the piqued from the bottom. This should be done as often as possible, preferably three times a day. [Before work (7am), after work(5pm), and before bed (10pm)] When punching down every evening, take a sample of the liquid and using your hydrometer, track the Brix depletion. You should notice a drop in Brix daily. Always record your additions to your must, your brix depletion, and punch downs.
  10. If you are using additional yeast nutrients to assist in fermentation you will add them after fermentation has started. Fermaid O is added at the beginning of fermentation (1 day after yeast set) and Fermaid K will be added at 1/3 depletion of the Brix (2/3 of the beginning amount of Brix). Follow the directions for the individual yeast nutrient, hydrating with water and mixing thoroughly.
  11. If you are adding malolactic cultures to your wine, you may also chose to do this at 1/3 Brix depletion. Follow all directions on the bacteria and nutrient packets explicitly.
  12. Punch down and take Brix measurements daily. When your hydrometer reads 0.90, you have fermented to dryness. At this point your malolactic fermentation may still continue, but the primary alcoholic fermentation is complete. You may now press the wine. Wash the press and sanitize using potassium metabisulfite. Again, make sure the press does not have any excessive puddles or lingering amounts of sanitizing solution remaining. Sanitize the receiving container carboy and any pumps or tubing that you may use. Anything that comes into contact with the wine should be rinsed with sulfite sanitizing solution. Place a screen (also sanitized) inside of the press to hold back any extra skins or seeds from getting through. Start scooping up the must and placing it in the press. Some of the liquid will immediately flow through, this is the “free run”. When the press is full, slowly begin pressing. Do not try and press every last drop out of the must as this can lead to seed cracking and bitterness in the wine. Fill each container to within ½” of the top and secure a bung and airlock in place. Malolactic fermentation will exude a small amount of carbon dioxide and there will be trapped gas within the wine that will need to escape the container.
  13. Allow the wine to sit for 2-3 weeks. You can conduct malolactic chromatography or bring a sample to a winemaker at Musto Wine Grape for analysis to ensure that your secondary fermentation is finished. At this point you should see a nice thick layer of lees in the bottom of the carboy. You will want to place the full vessel onto an elevated surface such as a table and place the new, sanitized, empty vessel on the floor below. Using a sanitized siphon, rack the wine into the new carboy. You may have space at the top which will need to be “topped off” with more wine. You can either use wine from another container, or finished wine to do this. It is very important that there is less than a 1/2” of headspace in each container. At this point you should also add 1/4tsp of potassium metabisulfite per 5 gallons of wine.
  14. Now it is time to let your wine age. You will need to rack it and add additional SO₂ every 3 months. Make sure you sanitize all equipment and containers when racking and keep them topped off within ½”. Come visit Musto Wine Grape for bottling advice and supplies.

Want to make a Blend instead? Winemaker Rick Lanza suggests trying a 55% Barbera, 35% Petite Sirah, 10% Cabernet blend. It was one of his most popular Wine Club Cuvee’s! 

For more winemaking details check out our Winemaking “How to” Videos

Awards Won:

2020 Sunset International Wine Competition – 2018 Lanza Barbera – GOLD – 93 Points


For a delicious food pairing check out our Brasato al Barbera (Beef Braised Barbera) Recipe!

Want to make your own Barbera? Musto Wine Grape Company is New England’s largest supplier for winemaking products and services. From home winemakers to wineries, we’ve got you covered! Give us a call at 877 – 812 – 1137 to speak with someone to get you started.

Beginner Blending Wine by Winemaker Chris Pallatto

Click. With just a few sips, something clicked, and our winemaking group became better wine tasters and, hopefully, better winemakers. Our group held our first blending summit to assess our 2019 varietals and make a legendary blend. This post is about our process for blending wine and lessons learned.

blending wine

Managing Expectations

To be clear, this is not an article for beginners by experts; rather, it chronicles our journey as beginners to become better winemakers. While I wish I could describe our wines with terms like “robust,” “fruit-forward,” or “hints of leather,” what I typically smell is just, well, wine. Bold and boozy, but just wine. Over the past year, our group’s goal has been to discuss and make notes of each tasting throughout the year and watch each varietal progress. As a spoiler, this blending experience did more for our collective palettes than any regular tasting.

Meet the wines:

  • Wine #1: 2019 Malbec from Lodi. pH 3.43, TA of 7.2, and ABV 13.2%. Malolactic fermentation complete. Bulk aged in steel. D254 yeast.
  • Wine #2: 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi. pH 3.68, TA of 6, and ABV of 13.75%. Malolactic fermentation complete. Bulk aged in steel. D254 yeast.

Setting the stage

A recommended approach for blending is to assess each wine, make a note of the characteristics of each, and determine which wine would bring to the other and what it might be lacking. I’ve read a few different articles and feedback from winemaking groups that you should make tiny incremental adjustments of one or two percent until the blend is just right. We decided ahead of time that our group wasn’t likely to distinguish that difference and wanted to make bolder adjustments and refine if needed. I think the next time we do a blending, we’ll be ready for the first approach.

We marked and arranged plastic wine cups into rows of pre-determined blends for each taster with the 100% varietal on opposite ends of the row. We set up the rows as follows:

100% Cab

90/10 Cab/Malbec

75/25 Cab/Malbec

50/50 Cab/Malbec

25/75 Cab/Malbec

10/90 Cab/Malbec

100% Malbec

Let the tasting begin!

We wanted to stick with descriptors we could determine and collectively recognize as a group. Everyone tasted at the same time, and we went around our socially distanced circle and weighed in. We all sampled the Cab first, and it described it as very robust, with a long-lasting mouthfeel and high tannins. For a 10-month old wine, it’s ready to be bottled in a couple of months and will thrill its drinkers. We described the Malbec as “juicy” with lots of fruit flavor, a bit thinner, and young tasting with a hint of a green apple or astringent taste. We expect to bottle it happily in a couple of months, but suspect it will be much better in a year or two.

To a person, we agreed that the Cab was the star of the show. Interestingly, while we loved the Cab Sav as is, when we started to discuss what might make it better, we all arrived at the same conclusion. We anticipated that a bit of Malbec would add a bit of brightness to the Cab and round out the tannin mouthfeel.

After determining that we were leaning towards a Cab heavy blend, we tried the 50/50 blend. Universally, we agreed the astringent taste of the Malbec overpowered the Cab, and that blend was not better than either varietal on its own. It was also interesting to see that everyone picked up on the green apple or “young” taste of the Malbec.

We then tried the 90/10 Cab/Malbec blend and could distinguish a bit of the Malbec, but the addition did not make a substantial difference. We wanted to add a bit more fruit flavor and drop the tannins, so we agreed that this mixture wasn’t quite right. However, it was clear that we were heading in the right direction.

Lastly, well, almost lastly, we tried the 75/25 Cab/Malbec, and it was enjoyable. “Approachable” seemed like the perfect wine tasting descriptor. It was easy to drink and left a happy memory on your tongue. I prefer hoppy beers and tannin heavy wines but appreciate less dramatic flavor profiles.

We did try the more Malbec-y leaning blends, but for better or worse, we had made our minds up after the 50/50 blend that the sweet spot was going to be Cabernet Sauvignon heavy.

Next Steps

We bottled six gallons of our new “Calbec” blend and will let the wines mellow together for the next two months. Before bottling day, we may repeat and see how the stand-alone wines are maturing, particularly the young-tasting Malbec. We are also going to do a blind taste test with our wives on bottling day to see if there is a clear winner from an unbiased and willing audience.

Next year, I think we will be more intentional with our blends versus the pre-set blend levels. It was very telling that each of us collectively picked up the changes and agreed on the direction we wanted to go with the blend. If we were to incrementally move from the 100% Cab to the Cab blend by adding the Malbec, we’d end up where we needed to be. It was very enlightening to be critical of the wines and think of it in terms of each descriptor or profile as being on a scale.

There are certainly worse hobbies! I am not sure there is a right way or a wrong way, but the experience was certainly fun and a perfect reason to get the group together, taste our wine, and plan for our Fall pressing.

Chris Pallatto is an amateur winemaker and part of the Tight Knit wine group in Chester, CT, and a supporting member of the infamous DeFazio group in Prospect, CT.


Ready to make your own wine? Musto Wine Grape is here to supply you with everything you need to make the wine of your dreams. Email us at sales@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can get you started!

Discovering an “Old World” Wine — Teroldego

Discovering an “Old World” Wine — Teroldego

By Winemakers Julie and Richard Chalifoux

By now, many of you are probably familiar with “Old World” wines such as Barbera, Gamay, and Nebbiolo.  A wine which you may be less familiar with is Teroldego [teh-rawl-DEH-goh].  Teroldego is a red wine grape that is grown in the Trentino-Alto Adige region in northeast Italy.  While it has been in Italy since the 15th century, it is not grown widely elsewhere.   However, this grape has been receiving increased attention from California grape growers, primarily near Lodi in the Central Valley, because of its prolific growth, heavy yields, and consistent quality.

Teroldego is a sibling of Dureza, one of the parents of Syrah.  You can easily see the connection to Syrah with its dark-skinned berry, fruity flavor, and medium to bold tannins.  It is a wine worth making, since it can be drunk either young or well-aged.

Grape Selection

In 2018, Musto added Teroldego to their grape varietal selection.  Hope you didn’t miss them this past season; these grapes were a must-see! They were exquisitely packaged and bigger than your hand – 36 grape clusters/36 lbs.  What a presentation!

Teroldego is similar in nature to other wines we have made, so my husband and I decided to test our winemaking skills and try something new.  We planned on making a small batch in a 5 gallon carboy, so there was not much room for experimenting.  Through further research, we found it is an Italian grape that produces reasonable tannins, is easy drinking, and possesses intense fruity flavors with dark thick skins.

Balancing and Yeast Selection

The grapes were clean with huge clusters — we ran the pH and acid numbers, the acid was a bit low so adjustments were needed.  Note: this will be an easy grape to blend with hybrid grapes that are typically higher in acid.  It will enhance fruit characteristics, add tannins, improve acid, and bring a nice rich color to your wine.

There were a few yeasts that would be a good choice – ones that will enhance the fruit characteristics, keep the “Old World” Italian style wine, and work well with the tannins.  We used BRL97, but any one of these would work.  We have used this yeast on other wines we make with great success.  We also use BRL 97 on our Tannat wine.

Yeast Strain Alc. Tolerance Flavor Profile
D254 16% Big mouth feel and rounding of tannins. Intense fruit: more dried than fresh with a focus on berry and jam characteristics. Helps with color stability and is useful for adding body to blends.
D80 16% Big volume and fine grain tannin flavors of plum and spice. Great for bringing more positive tannin intensity to a blend.
BRL97 16% Mainly used in Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Italian Wines.  Enhances color stability, maintains structure and is favored when long aging is planned.


Cold Soaking

This grape has thick skins, and experience has taught us that the thicker the skin, the longer the cold soak.  Some of our hybrids have thicker skins like Teroldego and don’t like to release tannins easily.  We treated this grape the same way: cold soak for 6 days, and be sure to add enzymes.  Note: when cold soaking for a longer period of time (i.e. 6 days), watch the room temp.  You really want it to be cold (below 40° F).  Wild yeast will take over if your must is too warm.

Winemaking process

We do not alter the winemaking process, however, there are a couple things that we do faithfully.

  1. Feed your yeast – when pitching the yeast be sure to add the proper nutrients – around 3 days later or approximately 1/3 lower brix, feed your must, we use Fermaid O. Important to keep your grapes and yeast happy, happy, happy – no stuck fermentations.  We also at this time, co-Inoculate with VP41 Malo, it does really well with BRL 97.
  2. Rack off the gross lees – when fermentation is done, don’t wait to rack off your wine! This is important to get good wine off of stinky lees.

Wine Recipe for Teroldego

Wine Produced: @ 5 gallons of wine (with 3 cases/36 lbs-case)
Finished pH: 4.1%
Finished Acid: .7g/liter
Brix at crush: 25 (14% alc)
Cold Soak: 6 days
Yeast used: BRL97
Malo: VP41
Lightly Oaked: Medium French stick used 2 ½ spirals
Tasting Notes: On the nose; butterscotch, vanilla, and black raspberry.  This wine has nice acid, soft tannins, medium body – very easy drinking wine with tastes of mulberry, boysenberry and hints of herbs, cedar, and mocha on the finish.
Lessons Learned: When the wine is young it takes on fruit characteristics, but it loves oak – as the wine ages more of the oak characteristics will come through.  If you prefer lightly oaked wines use less oak sticks.


Stay with me…I promise there is a recipe for you to try!  This wine is food-friendly and very approachable.  We recently opened a bottle after 2 years of aging it has really come into its own, with nicely-blended oak and a fruity flavor.  The tannins we were able to release during cold soaking also mean that this wine will still be wonderful for a few years to come.  Try it with smoky foods like wood fired pizza, burgers, stews, or any Italian cuisine with either red or white sauces.  I encourage you to try something new, something bold – try making a lovely wine like Teroldego.  Alla salute!


Spaghetti Carbonara

Teroldago is really yummy with Spaghetti Carbonara.  For this wine, serve it in a Pinot Noir glass and it is recommended to open the wine 1 hour before serving.  Recipe follows:

  • Salt for pasta water
  • 2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature
  • 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Romano, plus additional for serving
  • 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Parmesan
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ½ ounces of pancetta or bacon, sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square
  • 12 ounces spaghetti (about 3/4 box)
  1. Place a large pot of lightly salted water (no more than 1 tablespoon salt) over high heat, and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with hot water for serving, and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and Romano and Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and generous black pepper.
  3. Set the water to boil. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the pork, and sauté until the fat just renders, on the edge of crispness but not hard. Drain fat and remove from heat to set aside.
  4. Add pasta to the water and boil until a bit firmer than al dente. Just before pasta is ready, reheat pork in skillet, if needed. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and add to the skillet over low heat. Stir for a minute or so.
  5. Empty serving bowl of hot water. Dry it and add hot pasta mixture. Slowly stir in the egg and cheese mixture adding some reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately, dressing it with a bit of additional grated pecorino and pepper.

Ready to make your own Teroldego? Musto Wine Grape is here to supply you with everything you need to make the wine of your dreams. Email us at sales@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can get you started!

Wine Spotlight: Fiano


Fiano-California wine-wine grapes-grapes to make wine-winemaking-musto wine grape
A Little History:

Fiano is an Italian wine grape variety that originated and is grown mostly in Southern Italy; specifically in Campania. It’s roots are so deep in Italy that historians believe it was used to make a wine the Romans referred to as “Apianum”. Now Australia, Argentina, and California are starting to experiment with this vibrant and bold white wine grape.

California and Fiano Notes:

The Fiano grapes grows well in California’s Central Coast and Central Valley due to it’s Mediterranean climate, similar to Southern Italy. Fiano is know for it;s low yeilds in the vineyard and it’s sweetness on the vine that attracts bees. A grape that was once lost ot history because of it’s lower yeild and inability to produce cost effective juice, is now going through a renaisance period. Labeled a “classic”  vareity, with new winemaking technology wineries are able to produce complex, interesting, and profitable Fiano wine.

Wine Notes:

Pale straw yellow in color, Fiano expresses floral, tropical, and nutty notes on the nose. On the palate slight hazelnut, apricot, blood orange, and honey notes, can be enjoyed. If the wine is aged 2-3 years in bottle, those flavors can develop into spicy notes over time.

Winemaking Notes:

Limiting oxidation is key when creating this wine. As premature oxidation can mute the vibrancy this grape is known for. However, many winemakers are using Fiano to experiment with less aging and skin contact white wine creation.

For more on how to make white wine from grapes click HERE

*All white grape varieties are available in 36lb cases or in 6 gallon juice pails sourced from Lodi, CA.

For more information regarding the Fall Harvest please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or give us a call at 877-812-1137. We are looking forward to helping you with your next great wine!