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Free SO2: When and How

Protecting your wine with free SO2

Keeping the required amount of free SO2 in your wine is one of the important post-fermentation care steps you’ll need to stay on top of. While some people decide not to add SO2 (which is a personal preference, though we at Musto Wine Grape definitely recommend keeping the proper amount of free SO2 in your wine at all times), others choose to keep their wine protected by using it diligently.

Why we add it

To keep the wine protected. KMS serves as an antimicrobial and antioxidant and as such is a very important part in keeping your wine out of harm’s way. Without it, your wine can go bad very quickly.

How to test free SO2

Aeration oxidation method, manual ripper method, Vinmetrica, Hanna titrator, titrets

Setup for “aerative oxidation” method of checking free SO2. Though time intensive, it yields exact and accurate reuslts.

When to add it

  • During crush (to kill off any unwanted native yeast)
  • When fermentation has completed (be sure that MLF has completed as well, if that’s the goal)
  • During aging. Example: Each month many winemakers will test SO2, make any SO2 adds if needed, and then top it off.

Investing in Vinmetrica SO2 wine analyzer makes testing easy

How to add it

You’ll need to get potassium metabisulfite, if you don’t already have it. You may prefer to use campden tablets, which is fine too. Make sure it says potassium metabisulfite rather than sodium metabisulfite. The easiest way to figure out how much free SO2 you’ll need to add is to know your pH, first of all. Then you’ll need to decide if you’re using .8 or .5/6 molecular SO2. .8 is usually used for white wines, whereas .5 is used for red wines. Measure your free SO2 if you have a way of doing so. Then use the graph below to figure out what the target free SO2 is. From there you will likely choose an easy-to-use online resource such as wineadds.com to find out exactly how many grams of potassium metabisulfite should be added. Mix it with a small amount of water to ensure it can become completely incorporated into the wine.

*Remember: just knowing your target free SO2 in ppm does NOT tell you how many grams you will be adding. You need to figure that out as a second step, with an online SO2 calculator*

Graph indicating required free SO2

Now that you have a solid understanding of why, how, and when you add meta, you may want to delve into some deeper questions, such as…

Why do I need to keep adding meta? If I add a certain amount shouldn’t it stay at that number?

This is a great question. There are a lot of variables that go into answering this in as cohesive a way possible, and this could really be a topic in and of itself. Let’s keep it simple here: there are two measurements of SO2 in wine: free and bound. The free SO2 is what is actively protecting the wine, whereas bound SO2 is what has already tacked on to other compounds within the wine and as such is no longer able to actively protect it in the same way. Both are important numbers, but if a winemaker is only checking one, it’s going to be free. Over time free SO2 can become bound to various acids, solids, sugars, bacteria, yeasts, etc., that are present in the wine, which is why this number will not necessarily stay constant, especially immediately.

Why does pH affect how much SO2 I need to add?

A rule of thumb to remember is that higher pH = higher free SO2 requirement. Lower pH = lower free SO2 requirement. The chart below demonstrates the amount of free SO2 required base don the pH of the wine. This is just one of the many reasons that checking and knowing your wine’s pH is critical.

Do I need to measure total SO2 as well?

Knowing this number is important, but not as crucial as knowing your free SO2. It’s also a little less accessible of a test to run, which is why most home winemakers don’t choose to pursue knowing the total SO2 of their wines. It is possible to overadd SO2 and have the total SO2 be higher than desirable which can be problematic, so be sure to keep a running log and closely track how much you have added from the beginning of the wine’s life onward.

Musto Crush Crew’s Sweet Autumn Butternut Squash Soup

During harvest we need some tasty fuel to keep us going. This sweet autumn butternut squash soup is nourishing and fulfilling, sure to satisfy the whole family. As the temperatures drop, we wanted to share this recipe to help keep you warm!

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups of diced butternut squash
  • 1 unpeeled, diced apple
  • 1 unpeeled, diced pear
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, ½” diced
  • ½ teaspoon of curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • Salt & black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts (toasted), 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds, chives and plain greek yogurt as optional toppings.

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Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Stir frequently until tender (for about 5 minutes) then stir in the garlic and continue to stir for another minute.
  • Add the squash, apple, pear, curry powder, cinnamon and ginger. Stir.
  • Stir in the broth, increase heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and maintain at a low boil, covered for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool for about 15 minutes and transfer to a blender (if you do not have an immersion blender). Puree until very smooth. Transfer back into the pot, reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with optional toppings.

Pair with  a bottle of Gewurztraminer. This semi-sweet aromatic wine has notes of cinnamon, ginger and honey that compliment the silky and spicy characteristic of this soup.

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Gewurztraminer Recipe + Instructions

  1. First choose if you want to make a sweet wine or a dry wine, as this will dictate a lot of your decisions when making your wine.
  2. Secondly, feel confident in your pronunciation of this delicious variety, as you’ll be telling all of your friends about the great wine you’ve made to be paired with the butternut squash soup. Let’s say it together. Guh-VERTZ-truh-meen-er. That’s right!
  3. Decide if you are going to make wine from fruit, juice, or concentrate. This time of year you’ll need to be making wine from juice or concentrate.
  4. Add pectic enzyme to your juice. This will help with settling and clarifying down the road to ensure a clear and beautiful finished wine.
  5. Pick the yeast of your choosing. Some great options for retaining the fruity, aromatic, perfume-like traits of Gewurztraminer include Alchemy I, Vin 13, QA23, and D47. Rehydrate your yeast using Go-Ferm for best results.
  6. Time to ferment your wine! If you’re using a kit, follow the directions they give you.
  7. If fermenting fresh juice, add Booster Blanc and Opti-White to increase mouth feel and mid-palate intensity.
  8. When you see the Brix drop by 2-3, add Fermaid O to your juice.
  9. Continue checking the Brix each day. When you see a 1/3 drop in the starting number, add Fermaid K to ensure the fermentation remains strong and the yeast have the energy they need.
  10. When alcoholic fermentation is over, rack off the gross lees. Add potassium metabisulfite. This is important, as this is a variety that stylistically does not benefit from malolactic fermentation.
  11. If you want to back sweeten, you can do so. Gewurztraminer can make fantastic dry, semi-sweet, and sweet wines, so you can’t go wrong with whatever you decide!
  12.  For more information about making wine from juice click HERE!

Want to make your own wine for your next pairing? Musto Wine Grape Company is New England’s largest supplier for home winemaking products and services. We’ll get you set up with all of your juice, grape and equipment needs and have you on track to making your own perfect pairing. Visit juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!

Trebbiano: Blended Uses for Italy’s Blending Grape

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Trebbiano is a thinner skinned white grape from the very center of Italy, Umbria. Trebbiano accounts of roughly 1/3 of white wine grapes planted in Italy. Known for its fruity punch and bright acidity, Italian winemakers have been using this grape as a key component in white wine blends for hundreds of years. Trebbiano is also used in Italy to make premium quality balsamic vinegar. The Italians are not the only culture to have a unique use and high value for the Trebbiano grape. France uses Trebbiano (known there as Ugni Blanc) for the production of Cognac and also as a blending grape for wine production. 

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              Trebbiano is an excellent blender for white wine production as it has a soft aroma that can easily compliment other white grape varietals. Subtle hints of citrus and minerality can easily meld with other more dominant white wine grape aromas upon blending. The flavors found in the aroma will carry through to the palate; lemon, wet stone, grass, and apple.  For the winemaker, using yeasts such as Alchemy I or K1-V1116 will help to produce a stronger aroma and fruit flavors. Both yeasts should be used in a temperature controlled environment, as to not generate too much heat during fermentation, burning off important aromatic esters. This grape would complement more bold white grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, or Gewurztraminer. It would be wise to ferment each wine in the blend separately and then blend post fermentation. Trebbiano can help increase quantities and balance out a stronger flavored or more acidic white wine. The use of fermentation aids such as Opti-White and Booster Blanc will also help to promote and retain the important varietal aromas. We always advise to use a complete nutrition program throughout fermentation, including the use of Go-Ferm, Fermaid O, and Fermaid K. This will help avoid any stuck fermentations and off aromas. 

              If you are looking to make a classic, refreshing stand-alone Italian white wine or blend, Trebbiano could be one of your best options.  It’s mild fruity flavor and aromas are enjoyable on their own or within a blend. Musto Wine Grape is proud to source fresh Trebbiano juice directly from Italy. Try some this season for a refreshing taste of Italy.

Musto Wine Grape brings in Italian juices from Italy every October. If you’re interested in making wine from Italian Juice please email sales@juicegrape.com for more details.

by the Winemakers at Musto Wine Grape

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 8 – Grape Yield

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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! 🙂

When should I bottle?

The answer to this question can have many directions. The simple answer is: when the wine is ready. On average, white wines may be bottled 6-12 months after fermentation. Red wines benefit more from bulk aging, that is, aging all of that varietal together in a large vessel such as a tank or barrel or carboy, rather than in individual bottles. A red wine should bulk age for at least a year before bottling. Premium red wines age for at least 3 years in large vessels before bottling.

Bottling Equipment

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.