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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 23 – How do I test for Acid?

Wine being checked on component saturation in laboratory on winery factory

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 do I test for Acid?

When testing for acidity in wine, you are looking for the Total Acidity value, or the amount of acids in grams per liter of wine. While this may sound complex, it will help you in achieving a proper balanced flavor in your end product. You will need a few basic lab supplies:  a test tube, a small 10ml graduated syringe, phenalthalein, sodium hydroxide. Draw a 15ml sample of the wine to be tested into the test tube. Add three drops of the phenalthalein. Swirl the drops around in the wine to mix it in thoroughly. (Note: When using sodium hydroxide, be very careful. It is a strong base that can cause burns. We suggest wearing eye and skin protection.) Using the 10 ml graduated syringe, slowly drop in the sodium hydroxide by .5ml at a time. Every drop, swirl the test tube contents to mix and observe any color reactions. Upon adding the drop, you will see an immediate color change, that will then dissipate. For white wines, you will observe a pink color and for red wines you will observe a grey color.  Keep repeating the process of adding a drop, swirling and observing until the color change is permanent. The amount of sodium hydroxide used, when the color change is permanent, will give you the Total Acidity. If 6ml of Sodium Hydroxide are used, then the wine contains .6% or 6g/L of TA.

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 22 – Seven Most Common Winemaking Mistakes

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! :)

As part of the winemaking process, the pressed grape juice runs into a stainless steel holding tank where it will be gently aerated.

Seven Most Common Winemaking Mistakes

1. Headspace – When making wine, it is imperative that any vessel being used is filled completely. Filling carboys, demijohns, or fixed capacity tanks to the highest level possible, minimizing any air space it very important to prevent oxidation. If using a barrel, the barrel will allow for some evaporation as the wine ages. It is critical to top of the barrel with additional wine as this will prevent the oxidation of the wine in the barrel. Barrels do promote a small amount of oxidation, referred to as micro-oxidation, which is helpful at creating a creamier mouthfeel and promoting the expression of fruit flavors and aromas. If a large headspace develops due to evaporation, this can cause severe oxidation in the wine.

2. Degassing– Carbon dioxide gas is a byproduct of the yeast during alcoholic fermentation. Often times the bubbles of SO₂ are so small, they get trapped by the weight of the wine. If the wine is not purposefully degassed, the bubbles may come out of solution in the bottle, resulting in a fizzy wine for the drinker. The degassing process is relatively simple. One may purchase a degassing tool that is attached to a cordless power drill and stirs the wine at a high speed, agitating it and releasing the trapped bubbles. The winemaker can also splash the wine while racking, agitating the wine and releasing the trapped bubbles of gas. As long as the wine has been stirred vigorously, the gas should dislodge and escape, ensuring that it will not be fizzy in the bottle.

3. Sanitation – This may be the most important step in all of winemaking. While cleaning and sanitizing may be a tedious and time consuming process, it is critical to ensure a healthy, long lasting wine. There are an assortment of cleaning agents (B-Brite, Soda Ash, Sterox) that are excellent at cleaning wine making equipment and removing stains. These products need to be rinsed off thoroughly and should be thought of as “soap” rather than sanitizer. After the equipment has been washed and well rinsed, it must then be sanitized with potassium metabisulfite. A solution of 2 ounces of sulfite powder, dissolved into one gallon of water, will yield a strong sanitizing solution that will kill off any microbes that could spoil the wine. This will ensure the longevity of the wine in the aging vessel or bottle.

4. Bench Trials – When using a fining agent or oak additive to your wine, it is very important to first conduct a small trial of the product, before adding it to the entire batch. Assess the addition rate for the compound you would like to add to the wine. Using that as a guide for your ratio, pull out a small amount of the wine and add the compound, making sure that the ratio is accurate for that size sample. Allow the sample to sit for a few days and try it. If the results are what you were striving for, then you can apply the compound to the entire batch. This will help save you time and money if you are not satisfied with the results of the bench trial and will help you most effectively improve your wine.

5. Sulfites – Sulfites are a naturally occurring compound within wine. While sulfites do exist naturally, they are at a low level, not sufficient for helping to preserve the wine as an antioxidant. Additional potassium metabisulfite must be added to help prevent oxidation as well as prevent any advantageous microbes from growing in the wine. If the winemaker neglects to add sulfites to the wine, it will easily oxidize and could also be susceptible to bacterial contamination.

6. Record keeping – Often times with winemaking, “the devil is in the details”. The smallest change in yeast strain, nutrition, and grape acid and sugar content, can have dramatic effects on the resulting wine. The best winemakers, on the home or professional level, take meticulous notes on all of their activities and observations. By keeping track of each step of their process, they are able to reproduce their very best wines and also do research on what went wrong with their failures.

7. Timing – It is said that timing is everything. This is particularly true for winemaking. Many folks assume after fermentation, they can just leave the wine alone to age and it will come out beautifully if untouched. This is not the case. The wine needs to be maintained with racking and sulfites to ensure its longevity. Sometimes in winemaking, a fault may develop, Rather than researching a way to fix the fault or seek some professional advice, some winemakers elect to do nothing and hope the fault goes away. Often times, these faults progress and get worse. If caught early, they can be easier to fix.

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 17 – Should I Add Sugar?

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! :)

fructose

Do I add sugar?

Adding sugar can fall into two categories. If sugar is added prior to fermentation, it is called chapitalization and will increase the Brix (sugar level) of the must, resulting in a higher alcohol by volume wine. The yeast will process this sugar in addition to the grape sugars and will turn it into alcohol. Chapitalization is an important step for under ripe grapes, lacking in sugar.

Another form of sugar addition to wine is post-fermentation. This must be done with much care as to not restart fermentation. Adding the sugar after fermentation may reactivate yeast by offering them another food source and cause them to ferment that sugar as well. This can be prevented by adding sulfites to at least 50ppm to kill off the yeast. Adding sugar after sulfites will effectively back sweeten the wine, giving residual sugar and a sweet flavor to the wine. The winemaker can also add potassium sorbate to the wine, provided that the wine has not gone through malo-lactic fermentation. Potassium sorbate cannot be added to a wine that has undergone MLF as it will result in an off aroma of geranium taint. Potassium sorbate is strongly suggested for white wines that the winemaker would like to add residual sugar to. The sorbate will encapsulate any yeast particles, prohibiting them from metabolizing the sugar that was added for sweetening.

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.

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc: Primary Fermentation

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc:

Primary Fermenation

“Wine fermenting for 7 days slow and steady. Down to 4 brix. Nice nose and color as we wind down. Wine did get near 65F. I wet a bed sheet twice a day with cold water and wrapped around stainless tank. This helped keep the temp at 60F – nice and cool for a white wine.  Too hot and you will blow off the nose.”

Don’t forget to sign up for the Spring Bootcamp with winemaker Frank Renadli! Learn how to make great wine at home in just 5 weeks!

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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 2 – What do I need to get started making wine with fresh juice?

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 do I need to get started making wine with fresh juice?

When elevating your winemaking to the next level, often sourcing the best ingredients is the most direct path to better results. After getting great base experience using wine kits, the next logical step to wine making greatness is fresh juice. When making this change from wine kits to fresh juice, other ingredients may be needed to ensure the juice will reach its greatest potential as wine. First, evaluate your juice for acid (pH) and sugar (Brix). What are the levels present in your juice? If the Brix level is below 20, you may consider adding sugar to increase the Brix levels to 24-26. What is the pH of the wine? Juice should have a pH greater than 3.1 to ensure a successful fermentation. If the pH is higher than 3.8, consider adding tartaric acid. This will ensure a better tasting wine after fermentation as well as a more stable wine.

The next area to consider is yeast. Certain strains of yeast will amplify certain traits within the finished product of wine such as fruit character, spice notes, or floral notes. The yeast has certain parameters that it will ferment best within, so consult a winemaking expert at Musto Wine Grape to help you select the best yeast strain for your wine. The yeast is the important catalyst that will process the grape juice into wine. The yeast will need certain nutrients to best assist it with its fermentation such as a rehydration nutrient like Go Ferm, and subsequent nutrients to finish out the fermentation process such as Fermaid O and Fermaid K. Musto Wine Grape stocks yeast along with all of the aforementioned nutrients in small packages, designed for the individual buckets of juice. This will give you perfectly measured amounts of products to add to your wine, making proper fermentation simple and with no wasted/unused product.

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. 

Come Celebrate Your Winning Wines on January 21st

wine-competition-dinner-invite

 

The results are in and the date is set! Come Celebrate Your Winning Wines on January 21st, 2016.

The 2016 Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC. Wine Competition Dinner will entail a catered dinner, medal ceremony, wine themed games, dancing, and raffle prizes. All raffle money proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Project.

This is an event you don’t want to miss! There may even be a possibility of hitting Frank Musto in the face with a pie! (Shhhhh don’t tell Frank ;))

Tickets: Purchase HERE

Results: Musto Wine Grape Wine Competition Results!

LOCATION:
Zandri’s Stillwood Inn:
1074 S. Colony Rd, Wallingford, CT 06492
January 21st, 2017
6:30PM – Midnight

 We Hope To See You There! Cheers!

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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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}