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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 9 – How long will my wine last?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

How long will my wine last?

All wine ages differently. Certain varietals benefit from aging, others are meant to be consumed quickly. Generally, the more tannic the wine, more it will benefit from aging. Other factors influence a wine’s potential to age as well. If the winemaker chooses not to add sulfites to the wine (not recommended), the wine will not age as well and should be consumed within a year. If the proper level of sulfites are added, the wine stored at an appropriate temperature (55-62 degrees Farenheit), and not exposed to light, it should be able to age for many years. Some varietals that benefit from aging are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. Some varietals that do not necessarily benefit from aging are Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cayuga.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 3 – What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

The Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Most wines will benefit from some form of bulk aging. Young wine tends to be a bit harsh, raw, and green and it needs some time to settle and round-out. Many wines, especially reds, will get better if aged in oak barrels. Oak barrels will impart unique flavors in wine and will also create subtle chemical changes over time. From vanilla and tobacco to tea and spice, different types of oak barrels will impart different flavors in the wine. However, all natural oak barrels will allow for micro-oxidation to take place – leading to reduced astringency, better color, structure, stability, and tannin integration, and a richer, more complex flavor and mouthfeel.

Yet as is true in most instances, better wine requires more work – and barrel care, maintenance, and ageing is no exception. Detailed instructions on how to inspect, swell, care for, and maintain an oak barrel can be found in our handy .pdf file here –> Barrel Care PDF. Once you have the basics down, we will go over some common questions about the aging process – starting with, “How long should I age my wine in a barrel and what styles are best for barrel ageing?”

The length of time a vintner ages their wine in a barrel depends on several factors. Is the barrel new or has it been used before? How large is the barrel? What style of wine is going into the barrel? New barrels will impart more flavors than used one will. A rule of thumb is that after a single use the oak extraction of a barrel will decrease by 50%. After the second use it will decrease by another 25%, and once the barrel has been used four times it is usually neutral – meaning it will not impart any oak characteristics into the wine.
Barrel size is also an important factor when determining how long to age your wine. Smaller barrels will impart oak flavors much more quickly than larger barrels. For example, while a 59 gallon barrel will hold nearly ten times the volume of wine as a 6 gal barrel, its surface area is only about twice as much. This means that the wine in smaller barrels has significantly more contact with the wood than wine stored in larger barrels and can be oaked five times more quickly.

Lastly, different varietals and styles of wine will require different aging times. A Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend, for example, can usually be aged 1-3 years in oak. A New World-style Pinot Noir, however, probably shouldn’t be in a barrel for longer than 10 months. A buttery, creamy Chardonnay needs to be checked often while the ultra-tannic Nebbiola can stay in oak for over four years. However, remember that not all wines will benefit from barrel aging. Most German whites such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling rarely receive the oak treatment. Also, Beaujelea nouveau and many cold-hearty hybrids made in this style are often aged in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels.

So finally we can address the question on how long to age your wine in an oak barrel. The answer is up to the winemaker. Remember that winemaking is an art – and each artist will have their own inspirations and palates. My advice is to taste and to taste often. If using smaller barrels (less than 30 gallons), I would be topping off and tasting every month until the oak profile is where I want it to be. Larger barrels will take much longer to impart oak flavors, but still have to be topped-off monthly, so why not take a taste while adding wine to the barrel? Please note that it is much easier to add oak flavor to a wine than it is to remove it, so I recommend erring on the side of caution.

What about the wine going into the barrel? Should it be racked or filtered beforehand? In most cases your wine should be racked and stabilized before going into a barrel for bulk aging. For reds this means making sure your primary and malolactic fermentations are finished, the wine has been racked off its lees (we advise at least 2 rackings – once after primary fermentation, and then again as it is being transferred to the barrel), and it has been properly sulfited. Filtering your wine before it goes into a barrel may be a bit of an overkill, but one of our winemakers uses a course filtration before bulk aging and his wines are exceptional. However, there are unique winemaking techniques used by different vintners for certain styles. For example, in sur lie aging white wine is aged on its fine lees for an extended period of time. Obviously you would not want to rack or filter wines made in this style before starting the bulk aging process. Yet in most instances a wine should be clean and stable before going into a barrel. Additionally, the winemaker should not have to rack wine once it is in oak– save that step for when the wine leaves the barrel.

While aging wine in a barrel can seem like a daunting process, in most cases it is worth the extra effort. Just remember 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.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

Are you considering buying a gift? Let us help…

Are you considering buying a gift? Let us help…

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Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC. has gifts for those starting out in winemaking, those who are experienced winemakers, or those who simply love wine or have a special winemaker in their lives.

So, what sort of person are you buying for?

Is this person interested in making wine for the first time or relatively new to winemaking?

Those interested in making wine may want to start out with some of the following:

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A Winemaking Equipment Kit

Winemaking Equipment kits come with many of the basic and reusable items that are essential for making a basic batch of wine.  Kits can be purchased pre-packaged or you can work with a Musto sales rep to enhance the kit items.

A Winemaking Ingredient Kit

Winemaking Ingredient Kits exist for every budget and contain the ingredients needed to ferment and finish wine for bottling and enjoyment.  There are kits available for all tastes.

Basic Lab/Analysis Equipment

While there are many different pieces of equipment that can be purchased for winemaking, few are as essential to crafting consistently good wine as are these items…

Hydrometer
Acid Tiration Kits (we recommend our own Pro Acid Kit!)
pH meters

Professional Books on Winemaking

A Professional Winemaker Led Class At Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC at our Hartford, CT location.

Perhaps the person you are buying for falls into the “Experienced Winemaker” category?

Hydrometer used to measure the specific gravity of wine and beer

Hydrometer used to measure the specific gravity of wine and beer

An experienced winemaker may have been making wine for a period of time and should now have the basic equipment and supplies.  This sort of winemaker is generally looking for items to expand his or her cellar or for items that offer greater efficiency.  To the observer, an experience winemaker might also be one who consistently produces wines that beg you to have another glass.

If your winemaker is an “Experienced Winemaker” he or she may already have those items mentioned for the those who might just be getting started in winemaking. For those who do, you may want to consider some of the following items, big and small.

New Wine Barrels
Stainless Steel Variable Capacity Tanks
Chemical Analysis Meters
Wine Bottles

OR…Maybe the person you are buying for simply loves wine and/or a special winemaker?

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Check out our great selection of Merchandise including cool wine themed products for indoors, outdoors. We also have a large selection of stylish jewelry and apparel.

Gift Certificates…The Perfect Gift!

gift-certificate

There may be no better gift option than the gift certificate.  It allows the recipient to apply the value of the certificate to any item that they wish to purchase and at a time they are ready to do so.  Our gift certificates come with a gift certificate holder and may be used for either online or in-store purchases.  Click here to purchase a gift certificate in a convenient denomination.

 

Also, we are constantly running New and Special Deals on All of Our Products –> Check out our Shopping Page for more Information and Coupons!

 

What to do while you wait for your wine to age?

If you are like us then you get impatient waiting for your wine to finish the aging process. Here are few things to keep you busy while you wait for your vintage to be ready.

there is always time for winemaking

1. Drink Last Year’s Wine – Yummy.

2. Make a Wine Kit – You can have wine on the table in 3-4 weeks! Personally we are loving the Castel del Papa and the Green Apple Riesling.

3. Search Out a New Wine Club or Two – These new wines can inspire a new blend or variety to be made next year.

4. Design Your Own Wine Label – Your wine label should represent you. Musto Wine Grape offers custom label design as well as stock labels to help you add your own flair to your wine label.

5. Drink Local – Check out your local wineries and compare wine notes with other local winemakers. Connecticut has a great Wine Trail you can check out the next time you stop by to pick up a few things.

6. Visit California Wine Country – Why not take a trip and see where your wine grapes came from? Contact Christina at cmusto@juicegrape.com for more information on where to taste, stay, and play in California Wine Country.

7. Clean and Organize Your Wine Cellar– Think of it as “spring” cleaning. I’m sure your house mates would be happy to see it organized.

8. Stock Up on Winemaking Products for Next Year – There are a lot of sales going on during the Holiday Season. Take advantage of them and get ahead for next year!

9. Plan for  your next Winemaking Project – Southern Hemisphere Grapes – Grapes from Chile and South Africa will arrive as early as the beginning of May. The California grapes will arrive in August.

10. Throw a Blending Party – Invite your friends over and create some new and interesting blends.

Harvest Update: 8/25/2016

ARRIVING to Hartford, CT Early Next Week:

harvest calendar

8/29/2016:

LODI

  • Costamagna Chardonnay
  • Lodi Gold Grenache
  • Valley Beauty Barbera
  • Smiling Baby Merlot
  • Valley Beauty Zinfandel

9/1/2016:

LANZA – Suisun Valley

  • Sauvignon Blanc

CENTRAL VALLEY

  • Cry Baby Muscat (42lb)
  • Muscat King (42lb)
  • Cry Baby Thompson Seedless (42lb)
  • Lugano Old Vine Zinfandel
  • Lucerne Old Vine Zinfandel

JUICES from LODI

  • A Mix of Varieties

 

 

Call 877.812.1137 or email sales@juicegrape.com for more information

Brix Tests at Lanza-Musto Vineyards

Brix Tests at Lanza-Musto Vineyards                          

Mini Harvest Report

It looks like Mother Nature is excited to get her winemaking on because the grapes are ripening early and fast! Download our E-Book for the ENTIRE list of wine grapes and juices we will be bringing in this fall HERE –> MWG_2016 Harvest Menu E-Book

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Mini Harvest Report:

Central Valley & Lodi: Brix are in the high teens. We are expecting to have grapes in Hartford, CT as early as September 7th.

Suisun Valley, Paso Robles, Contra Costa, Amador, Sonoma, and Napa: The whites will be harvest on September 1st and should be to Hartford, CT on September 7th. The red grapes are maturing well. The Brix are creeping up there. We think that we are still on track for a September 15th harvest date, with the grapes arriving in Hartford, CT as early as September 20th.

Juices: California juices will start arriving on September 7th. We hope to see the Italian juices sometime in the first week of October.

Prices: The grape and juice prices will be available by August 16th. Please give us a call at the office to secure your order.

We look forward to working with you this fall. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at 877.812.1137 or sales@juicegrape.com

Take An Adventure to Lodi Wine Country

Instagram Post _Take an Adventure to Lodi Wine Country

We are bringing Lodi Wine Country to you this fall. An exciting time for the region, Lodi was recently named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The grapes are grown in a Mediterranean style climate producing wines of great character and strength. Keep an eye out for our newer Italian Wine Grape Program from this region. These grapes will be producing some fantastic and age worthy wines.

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News from Lodi, CA

We can’t wait to bring in the Zinderella grapes Matt is talking about!

A taste of Italy from Lanza Musto Vineyards

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{Lanza-Musto Brunello Clone Sangiovese going through veraison}

Can’t make it to Tuscany this year? Don’t worry, you can make some fabulous Sangiovese right here in the US! Lanza-Musto Vineyards has been producing Brunello Clone Sangiovese for the past 4 vintages. One of the big reasons we planted this varietal is because the valley provides hot days and cool nights. The temperature can swing over 50 degrees depending on the time of year. Sangiovese eats this type of weather up! This high producing varietal soaks up the sun and enjoys the break under the cool night air.

When producing Sangiovese wines keep in mind that even though it is a bold tasting wine, it can easily be overtaken by oak infusions. Both the Musto Wine Grape Co. and Winemaker Magazine suggest using small amounts of oak or aging your wine in neutral barrels. The oak flavoring can overpower the wine and you will lose the delicate acidity and  bright cherry notes that Sangiovese is known for. Also, blending in a little LMV Barbera or Merlot can help give it a little extra structure and complexity. 

Since Sangiovese originated in Italy, the wines pair famously with anything tomatobased. We suggest pasta, pizza, or any meat dishes that have a tomato sauce. Frank Musto from Musto Wine Grape Co., LLC. personally enjoys his Sangiovese with Pepe’s Pizza from New Haven, CT or a great Chicken Marsala.

Sangiovese is one of the hottest up and coming varietals being produced in the United States. Make sure to secure your order of Brunello Clone Sangiovese for Fall 2016. You will not be disappointed!

Cheers and Happy Winemaking!

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{Lanza-Musto Brunello Clone Sangiovese ready to ship to Musto Wine Grape Company}