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Winemaking with Italian juices

Let’s make wine from Italian juice… at home!

Many winemakers wait all year for their annual Italian juice pickup at Musto. Despite the fact that they may be able to find some of these juices from California, they look forward to knowing that they will be able to make wine that hails from Italy itself.

There’s so many juices to choose from:

  • Amarone- cooked cherries, dark plums, cherry liqueur
  • Barolo- tannic, rose aroma
  • Brunello- cherry, blackberry, tannic
  • Chianti- red fruit, dried herbs, herbaceous
  • Dolcetto- plum, blackberry, cocoa
  • Lambrusco- fruity, blackberry, bright red fruits
  • Montepulciano- red plum, thyme, baking spices
  • Moscato- sweet, fruity, aromatic
  • Nebbiolo- rose, cherry, leather
  • Nero D’Avola- cherry, plum, licorice, tobacco
  • Pinot Grigio- lemon, lime green apple, bright and crisp
  • Sangiovese- tart cherry, strawberry, plum
  • Trebbiano- peach, lemon, apple
  • Valpolicella- cherry, cinnamon, chocolate

For winemakers who don’t have access to a crusher, destemmer, or press, making wine from Italian juices is a great way to get the joy of making your own wine with less steps and less mess.

So how can you start making your own wine from Italian juices? Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way!

  1. Choose an Italian variety that speaks to you.
  2. Come to Musto Wine Grape and pick up your pail of juice.
  3. Bring it home, pop open that lid, and add 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite to it. Add pectic enzyme if you’re going to (5 drops per gallon of juice). Give it a stir.
  4. Allow it to come up to room temperature – we’re talking 60 degrees or so.
  5. Choose your fermentation vessel: will you keep it in pails or ferment in a carboy or demijohn? Make sure everything is clean and sanitized. *Be sure there is enough room to account for fermentation foaming*
  6. If you are going to add fermentation tannins or additives (like oak dust, Booster Rouge, Booster Blanc) you can add that now. *Note: do not add tannins such as FT Rouge within 8 hours of adding enzyme*
  7. Pitch the yeast once the temperature has reached at least 60F. Yeast strain choices will vary depending on the juice you choose – ask a winemaker at Musto Wine Grape for a strain recommendation for the varietal you’re making. Follow the yeast starter directions explicitly. Be very careful of temperatures, never adding yeast if there is more than a 18 degree difference between the yeast starter liquid and the juice.
  8. Carefully monitor the fermentation by checking Brix levels daily. Add yeast nutrients as needed if you choose to do so.
  9. If you are adding malolactic cultures to your wine, you may also chose to do this at 1/3 Brix depletion. If using a malolactic nutrient (Opti-Malo Plus) with the bacterial culture, hydrate the nutrient in a separate container from the bacteria and add to the must directly before the addition of the bacteria. Follow all directions on the bacteria and nutrient packets explicitly.
  10. When the fermentation is complete, rack off the lees and continue aging. Many Italian wines are aged with oak – if you choose to do this, you can do so in oak barrels or with oak alternatives (such as chips or staves).

winemaking juices-how to make wine

And there you have it! Delicious Italian wine that you made in your own home. There’s nothing more rewarding than having a glass of wine you made with juice from a reliable source.

Feeling inspired? Come down to Musto Wine Grape and pick up some Italian juice. But don’t wait too long – we are fast approaching the end of harvest time. Pick up everything you need and and be on your way to kicking back as you sip on a glass of homemade Italian wine. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make Frank’s Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo to accompany it!

Summer Sangria Recipes

As summer comes to an end and the fall harvest begins we wanted to share some fun Sangria recipes for the weekend. Happy Friday!

List of sangria with red, pink and white wine. Toning. selective focus

Pink Lemonade Sangria
Makes about 1 gallon
2 750ml bottles of Pinot Grigio
1 can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 quart tub of frozen strawberries (sugar added is fine) (frozen fruit breaks down better and leaks out more flavors as it defrosts plus it keeps it cold)
1 2 Liter of Sprite or Club Soda (depending on how sweet you want it)
*If you want to make it stronger, you can add strawberry schnapps however this will make it much sweeter so use club soda

Peach Mango Sangria
Makes about 1 gallon
2 750ml bottles of Pinot Grigio 
1 cup of Peachtree schnapps
1/3 cup lime juice
1 bag frozen peaches
1 16oz can Goya Mango nectar
1 quart of Ocean Spray White Cranberry Peach Juice
1 liter of lime seltzer

Mixed Berry Malbec Sangria
Makes about 1 gallon
2 750 ml bottles Malbec
1 cup of Chambourd Raspberry Liquor
1/3 cup lime juice
1 quart of cran raspberry juice
1 liter of raspberry seltzer
1 bag of frozen mixed berries

Blackberry Pomegranate Cabernet Sangria
Makes about 1 gallon
2 750 ml bottles of Cabernet
1 cup black berry brandy
1 quart pomegranate juice
1 quart cranberry juice
1 small container of pomegranate seeds
1 small container of fresh blackberries
.5 quart raspberry or pomegranate seltzer

Two lovers cheering with sangria in a restaurant

Making Wine from a 1 Gallon Wine Kit By Frank Renaldi

VNP 1 US Gal Packaging (2)

I have never made a gallon of wine in my life; I mean not that small a batch. I am used to making much more wine at a time, from a few gallons to 4000 gallons at a winery. I have made wine from mostly fresh grapes, white juice and even 6 gallon kits. In fact I have made over 50 kits in my days, but I had to think twice before I made a ONE gallon kit.

Well, I did it and guess what? It was fun! I made a one gallon kit from Mosti Mondiale Vinifera Noble. I tried the Malbec, since I just made 45 gallons from Chilean grapes. I thought it would be a good comparison on the nose and the taste. Since I made kits before, I was familiar with the process. And this small kit was no different – It was the same process you have for the standard six gallon kits.

The biggest challenge I had to deal with was the smaller fermentation and storage vessels required for one gallon of wine. I started by pouring the grape juice in a one gallon bottle and then topping it with water to measure out the correct volume. You can buy a two gallon fermentation pail, but I thought I would try using one of my 3 gallon carboys with an air trap. So I poured the gallon of adjusted wine into the 3 gallon carboy and then poured the yeast into the opening in the carboy. It worked fine.

In order to test the specific gravity of the wine during fermentation, I just poured some of the wine into a hydrometer jar. After taking the measurement, I poured the wine back into the carboy to continue fermenting. There was no wasting of wine on this batch. When I had to stir the wine, I simply shook the entire carboy.

When fermentation was complete, I racked the wine into a small pail. Then I added in the packets of sulfite, sorbate and clarifying agents supplied with the kit. Then this finished wine was poured into a gallon jug to settle for further rackings and aging. Always remember to top off the storage vessel to avoid oxidation.

I think the biggest challenge was the de-gassing of the wine. Normally, with a six gallon kit we whip the wine with a degassing wand on the end on a drill. We need to get rid of the gas trapped in the wine for clarifying and for a still wine (no fizz). With this small batch, there really is not enough wine to whip. I decided to use a vacuum pump to degas the wine, which I have also used on larger batches of kit wines. A small vacuum pump is easy to use and economical.

So, my wine is aging and smells wonderful. I will get five 750ml bottles of wine from this kit. So why make such a small batch? It is a great way to learn how to make wine as a beginning wine maker. The cost is minimal, but the experience is great. You can make 2, 3, or 4 different grape varietals and blend them when they are finished. Once you get your feet wet with these starter kits, you can move onto six gallon kits which yield 30 bottles – now we are talking. Then you have the confidence to move up to juice and grapes. After that, there is no stopping you!
Have fun with this smaller kit. I did and had fun doing it!!

Frank Renaldi

White Wine Grapes from Chile

Hello Winemakers!

Below are the Brix numbers for the White Wine Grapes from Chile. We received Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier early this morning. We are looking forward to you all picking up and enjoying the white wine grapes of Chile! It looks like it’s going to be a great vintage!

Chardonnay: 22.5

Pinot Grigio: 23.5

Sauvignon Blanc: 23.0

Viognier: 22.5

The reds should be arriving in early May, we will keep you updated as soon as the grapes clear customs! Keep an eye on our blog, harvest tracker, and social media platforms.

Brix (°Bx) is a way to measure the potential alcohol content of a wine before it’s made by determining the sugar level in grapes. Each gram of sugar that’s fermented will turn into about a 1/2 gram of alcohol. (description via Wine Folly)

 

chilean_chard1 chilean_pg1 chilean_sb1 chilean_viog1 chilean_pgsb chilean_viogchard

*Please keep in mind these numbers are only sample of what arrived from Chile. Please make sure to take your own Brix readings when you receive your grapes for the best possible fermentation outcome. 

Thank you and Happy Winemaking! 🙂

Yeast Pairings for Chilean Wine Grapes

Yeast Pairings for Chilean Wine Grapes

IMG_0421

 

Cabernet Sauvignon: BM45, BM4X4, D80, RC212, D254

Cabernet Franc: BM45, RP15, D254, D80, BDX

Carmenere: BDX, D254, RP15

Malbec: BDX, D254, RP15

Merlot: BDX, D80, RP15, D254

Petite Verdot: BM4X4, D80, D254

Pinot Noir: RC212, BM45

Syrah: BDX, D80, D254

Chardonnay: QA23, VIN13, D47, COTE DES BLANCS

Pinot Grigio: 71B, VIN13, QA23, R2

Sauvignon Blanc: VIN13, QA23, R2, D47, V1116

Viognier: VIN13, R2, D47

 

Which yeast will you use? 🙂

Also, don’t forget to watch our Youtube Video on “Yeast & Stuck Fermentation”

Cheers! And Happy Winemaking!