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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 17 – Should I Add Sugar?

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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! :)

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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.

Chilean Wine Grape Update: Arrivals & In Stock

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As of 5/2/2017 the following is in stock…

Juices:
ALL Chilean Varieties
ALL South African Varieties

Grapes:
Malbec
Carmenere
Merlot
Petite Verdot
Syrah

To Arrive 5/5/17….

Juices:
ALL Chilean Varieties

Grapes:
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Carmenere
Pinot Noir
Petite Verdot
Malbec
Merlot
Syrah

Please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877.812.1137 to schedule your pick up!

We are looking forward to working with you this Spring Harvest! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page and Harvest Tracker for more harvest information and upcoming wine classes.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 15 – How to work with Frozen Must

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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! :)

Simplifying Your Life with Frozen Musts

Life gets hectic. We totally understand. As the Fall and Spring wine grape harvest seasons approach, not everyone can just suddenly stop their normal life and shift into winemaking mode. Kids, vacations, work, weather and a myriad of other obligations can impact the ability of a winemaker to start a particular year’s vintage. And let’s not forget about those grapes – unfortunately they don’t seem to care much about your schedule. They ripen and arrive when it’s convenient for them, not for us. Fortunately there is a way to work with grape varietals anytime you choose by using frozen must.

Frozen must is exactly what it sounds like – fresh grapes that have been crushed and destemmed on site into must and then immediately frozen. Working with frozen must is very similar to working with fresh grapes, but there are some differences that winemakers should be aware of. With frozen must there is no need to take your crusher/destemmer out of storage and lift those heavy boxes of grapes into the machine. This part of the process is done for you already. If you were working with fresh grapes, the resulting must would be adjusted and then the winemaker would start the fermentation process. Yet by freezing this must we are basically halting the winemaking process by putting this must into a deep freeze – then the winemaker can thaw the must and continue the process when it is convenient for them.

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Besides the convenience of making wine around your schedule ( with less equipment and less preparation/cleanup), there is another helpful benefit when working with frozen red varietals – cold maceration! During the freezing and thawing process the prolonged skin contact at cooler temperatures can maximize color extraction. Additionally, the tannins extracted during this time are water soluble and will be softer than the harsher, alcohol soluble tannins imparted during primary/post fermentation maceration. Now that we have touched on the benefits of using frozen musts, let’s transition to working with it.

When you receive the pails/drums of frozen must, we need to get the must thawed and up to fermentation temperatures safely. All of our musts are sulfited to 50ppm – this will help to control any oxidation that may take place during the thawing process and also help to limit the formation of bacteria in the grapes. However it is still possible for some freezer-burned or moldy grapes to be present – remove any grapes that look questionable. Some winemakers like to slowly bring the must up to temperature over the course of several days, while some recommend getting to pitching temps as quickly as possible. A slow temperature rise will prolong cold maceration and its benefits, but remember that the must is susceptible to unwanted bacteria and other bugs until primary fermentation starts. We recommend keeping the pails at room temperature – they should thaw out in 2-3 days.

It is important to stir the must as it is thawing. During the freezing process it is common for the natural sugars and potassium bitartrates to settle at the bottom of the pail (very much like the frozen Italian ice cups you can buy in the supermarket. The best part is the bottom of the cup where all the sugary, sweet goodness has settled to). Stirring the must with a clean and sanitized utensil daily will help homogenize it so that it thaws evenly. Once the must is at pitching temperature, empty the pails into your primary fermenter and treat it just like you would freshly crushed-destemmed grapes. Remember to get all the juicy bits and tartaric crystals from the bottom of the pail! We recommend taking pH, TA, brix, and S02 readings and adjusting accordingly. These readings can vary based on the temperature of the must and how well it has homogenized during the thawing process, so it is best to wait until the grapes are at room temperature. While we will always recommend using commercial yeasts to help with a steady, clean fermentation, it is very important to use these types of yeasts when working with frozen musts.

So there you have it – using frozen must can simplify a winemaker’s life by making it easier and less hectic. Isn’t that what we all hope for during the harvest season?

(A big thanks goes out to Robert Herold for his original article Winemaking From Frozen Must which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Winemaker Magazine)

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 12- Common Winemaking Faults and Flaws

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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! :)

In this week’s Winemaker’s Think Tank we outline the difference between flaws, faults, and how to identify them.

  • Flaws
    •  Flaws are a mistake made in the winemaking process that leads to a property in the wine that is not characteristic of the varietal
    •  Stylistic Choice vs. Flaw
    •  Imbalance Flaw
      • Acid vs Sugar, Oak Levels, Alcohol Level
    • Visual Flaws
      • Haze, Sediment, Effervescence, TA Crystals, Floaters, Lack of Color Saturation
    • Aroma/Bouquet Flaws
      • Lack of Aroma, Non-varietal aroma, Over-oaking
  • Faults
    • Faults are often a microbial or chemical reaction within the wine in some part of its life that significantly alters a wine, eventually leading to the point of spoilage.
  • Oxidation Faults
    • Acetaldehyde – oxidation of Ethyl Alcohol smells like sherry, or old apples, browning
      • Causes: headspace, low sulfites, poor corks, bacterial contamination
    • Acetic Acid – Vinegar
      • Causes: Acetaldehyde, Acetobacter bacteria react with ethanol, Fruit Flie
    • Ethyl Acetate – Nail Polish Smell
      • Oxidation of Acetaldehyde and Acetic Acid
      • Causes: headspace and bacterial contamination
  • Sulfur Faults
    • Hydrogen Sulfide – Rotten Eggs Smell
      Causes: lack of yeast nutrients, yeast stress, sulfur sprays, yeast bi-product, high temps
    • Sulfur Dioxide – Burnt Match Smell
      Causes: over sulfating, wild yeast
    • Complex Sulfur Faults- Mercaptans, DMS, DES, DMDS, DEDS
      Causes: Hydrogen Sulfide reacting with Ethyl Alcohol
  • Microbial Faults
    • Brettanomyces – Barnyard, Horse Saddle, Antiseptic Ointment, Band-Aids, Bacon, Clove
      • Causes: spoilage yeast cells that are incredibly dangerous and difficult to eliminate. Most often found in contaminated barrels, winery cleanliness, resistant to acid and SO2
    • Geranium Taint – Fresh cut geranium leaves
      • Causes: Reaction of potassium sorbate with Lactic Acid Bacteria in the presence of Ethyl Alcohol
    • Refermentation – Fizzy wine, popped corks
      • Causes: Yeast or microbial fermentation of residual sugar
  • Other Faults
    • Cork Taint – Wet basement, wet old newspaper, mildew
      • Causes: strain of trichloanisole on cork (cork taint); mold that contacts chlorine and wood
    • Heat Damage – Cooked fruit smell, brick red color, similar to oxidation
      • Causes: leaving wine in a hot car, in the sun, etc.

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.

SHOWCASE YOUR WINES!

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SHOWCASE YOUR WINES!

PAY FOR YOUR ENTRIES ONLINE

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Show Off You Winemaking Skills at the Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC.’s Winemaker Amateur & Commercial Winemaking Competition!

The Annual Musto Wine Grape Company Amateur & Commercial Wine Competition will be held October 22, 2016. Your wines will be judged by some of the best wine judges in New England. Each entry will have detailed feedback to help further improve your winemaking skills.

Amateur or commercial wine entries will compete for, gold, silver & bronze medals. Best of Show medal will also be awarded. Amateur entries will compete against amateur entries and the same holds through for commercial entries. Each wine will be judged on its own merit. Medal awards will be decided by a group on competent wine judges selected by management of the Musto Wine Grape Company. All entrants will receive judging notes for each wine entered. Entry information can be downloaded at www.juicegrape.com.

Professional winetasting event, limited focus

  • Important Dates:
    • October 17th, 2016 NLT 4:00PM Wine Entry deadline arrival
    • Send or deliver entries
      • Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC 101 Reserve Rd, Hartford, CT 06114 or (860-278-7703
      • Levy, Diamond Bello & Associates, LLC (LDB) 497 Bic Drive, Milford, CT 06461 (203-882-7940Judging: October 22nd, 2016
    • Judging Results: TBD and at the awards Dinner (TBA). Also, posted on, www.juicegrape.com
    • Entry Fee:
      • For a single wine the entry fee will be $10.00 and $8.00 each for 2 or more entries submitted at the same time.
      • There is no limit to the number of entries. Make checks payable to Musto Wine Grape Company and U.S. dollars only.
    • Wine Entry Qualifications and Conditions:
      •  This wine competition is open to any amateur winemaker, commercial winemaker or winery. Wine entry must have been made by a winemaker, not purchased and re-bottled and used as an amateur wine maker entry. Judge may not judge and wine they have submitted.
      • Wine entry(s) are to be delivered or shipped to the above stated location before the closing time.
      •  A wine entry is a still bottle of wine and submitted for entry in a 750ml wine bottle. Ice wines or late harvest wines may be submitted in a 375ml wine bottle. Sparkling wines must be submitted in a champagne style bottle with the proper closure.
      • All bottle entries must be free of any labeling or identifying markings. However, each must be marked with Category number, winemaker(s) name, wine ingredients and percentages & vintage.
      • All shipments are the entrant’s responsibility therefore packaging must be able to withstand considerable handling and shipping costs are the entrant’s responsibility. COD’s or postage due will be rejected. If an entry bottle is received damaged, we will make every effort to contact the entrant and notify them of the damage. Check with your shipper as to requirements for shipping wine.
      • Wines entries made from grapes and juice based wines will be judged and awarded in their own category. Wine entries made from kits and fresh processed and concentrated juices will be judged and awarded in a kit category.
      • Judging of entry wines will be performed on a 20 point award system. Each wine will be judged on its own merits and not compared to any others in its category. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded within each category and based on the 20 point system.
      • The Best of Show award(s) will be those wine entries that are superior within a given category. All award decisions made by the judges and/or sponsors, are final.
      • Awards will be given to the winners at the Award’s Dinner at the above stated date and time.
      • All entrants will receive a copy of the judging worksheet and a copy of the winning results.
      • All entrants will receive a copy of the judging worksheet and a copy of the winning results.
    •  Entry Form and Fee(s):
      • Do not send wine with your entry form and fee(s)
      • When paying by check, attach the check (payable to Musto Wine Grape Company) to the entry form and mail to Musto Wine Grape 101 Reserve Rd, Hartford, CT 06114 or Winemaker Products 497 Bic Drive, Milford, CT 06461. The entry form and fee will be held until the wine(s) are received. Do not send cash with the entry forms. Please keep a copy of the completed entry forms for your records.
    • Sending Your Wines:
      • Do not send wine entry form and fee(s) with the wine(s). Forms must mailed separately.
      • Write on each box, SAMPLE MATERIALS, NOT FOR RESALE, GLASS ENCLOSED.
      • If sending more than one box, indicate that they are “Box 1 of 2 and Box 2 of 2, etc.
      •  If you’re delivering you own entries, we can only accept them Monday to Friday, 10:00AM to 4:00PM. The Milford location is closed on Saturday and Sundays. The Hartford location will be open on Saturday and Sundays and must be dropped off before 2:00PM. Wine entries are not to be dropped off after closing hours. Musto Wine Grape Company nor Winemaker Products, LLC will not be responsible of missing packages housing wine entries.

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