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white wine

Wine Spotlight: Fiano

Fiano

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A Little History:

Fiano is an Italian wine grape variety that originated and is grown mostly in Southern Italy; specifically in Campania. It’s roots are so deep in Italy that historians believe it was used to make a wine the Romans referred to as “Apianum”. Now Australia, Argentina, and California are starting to experiment with this vibrant and bold white wine grape.

California and Fiano Notes:

The Fiano grapes grows well in California’s Central Coast and Central Valley due to it’s Mediterranean climate, similar to Southern Italy. Fiano is know for it;s low yeilds in the vineyard and it’s sweetness on the vine that attracts bees. A grape that was once lost ot history because of it’s lower yeild and inability to produce cost effective juice, is now going through a renaisance period. Labeled a “classic”  vareity, with new winemaking technology wineries are able to produce complex, interesting, and profitable Fiano wine.

Wine Notes:

Pale straw yellow in color, Fiano expresses floral, tropical, and nutty notes on the nose. On the palate slight hazelnut, apricot, blood orange, and honey notes, can be enjoyed. If the wine is aged 2-3 years in bottle, those flavors can develop into spicy notes over time.

Winemaking Notes:

Limiting oxidation is key when creating this wine. As premature oxidation can mute the vibrancy this grape is known for. However, many winemakers are using Fiano to experiment with less aging and skin contact white wine creation.

For more on how to make white wine from grapes click HERE

*All white grape varieties are available in 36lb cases or in 6 gallon juice pails sourced from Lodi, CA.

For more information regarding the Fall Harvest please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or give us a call at 877-812-1137. We are looking forward to helping you with your next great wine!

A Guide to Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a white wine grape that originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France. We source our Chardonnay wine grapes from 3, high quality, and sustainable appellations in California. This includes Suisun Valley, Lodi, and Central Valley. These regions produce a range of outstanding high quality to premium luxury wine grapes for the best value.

Chardonnay

Suisun Valley, California

Firstly, Suisun Valley Chardonnay tends to yield beautiful notes of honeysuckle, green apple, and lemon tied into a welcoming nose. It is full-bodied and lush on the palate featuring tropical flavors of pineapple, peach, and bright citrus. It also has a clean and pleasant finish. We recommend fermenting in a stainless steel fermenting tank using QA23 wine yeast. This is perfect if you’re aiming for that tropical profile in your Chardonnay.

Lodi, California

Secondly, If you’re looking to make a beautifully balanced wine with lovely notes of pineapple and citrus, that mingles with notes of sweet vanilla custard finishing with just the right amount of silkiness and acid, we recommend the Lodi Chardonnay. We also recommend fermenting with D47 wine yeast in a French oak barrel. When you are fermenting in a barrel, it’s best to use MBR31 to allow your Chardonnay to go through Malo-Lactic Fermentation. This will achieve those silky and buttery finishes.

Central Valley, California

Finally, If you’re drawn to the Lodi Chard characteristics but you’re looking for more complexity, try the Central Valley Chardonnay. It has the potential to yield fresh tropical fruit, pears, and peaches along with custard cream flavors leading to a creamy, soft, and mouth-filling finish. For these results, we recommend fermenting in a stainless steel tank or fermenting tub with VIN13 wine yeast and aging in a French oak barrel. Inside the barrel, it should undergo Malo-Lactic Fermentation with the use of MBR31 and will yield that layered complexity you’re craving.

Ready to make your own Chardonnay? Musto Wine Grape is here to supply you with everything you need to make the wine of your dreams. Email us at sales@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can get you started!

Summer Apple Broccoli Salad

This crunchy, refreshing apple broccoli salad is a perfect summer barbecue side. Not only does it go great with virtually any barbecue food, ranging from chicken to steak and even burgers – it’s also healthy without compromising tasty! I know you can’t wait for this one so let’s get started!

Apple Broccoli Salad

What you’ll need:

2 medium heads of broccoli, chop into small florets

1/2 cup of shredded carrots

1/4 cup diced red onions

2 large apples, chopped into small pieces

1/3 cup nuts of choice. I love roasted almonds and sunflower seeds

1/3 cup dried cranberries. Ocean spray’s pomegranate infused dried cranberries are delicious!

1 cup of plain greek yogurt

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sweetener of choice, I personally love using honey.

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

What you need to do:

Combine broccoli, carrots, red onions, apples, nuts of choice, and dried cranberries in a bowl.

In a separate small bowl, combine greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, honey, sale and pepper and whisk together.

Coat salad in dressing and toss, then serve chilled!

Wait, what about some wine to go with it?

You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging on that, did you? We would never! In general, crisp white wines are a go-to when serving raw vegetables, so try a zesty Pinot Grigio with this salad. The smooth flavors and crisp acidity allows this kind of wine to be served with lighter dishes without being too overwhelming, perfect for this salad!

A White Wine Drinker’s First Shot at Tasting Red Wines

A White Wine Drinker’s First Shot at Tasting Red Wines

Christina has given me a few bottles of wine to stretch my tasting abilities and educate my nose and taste buds. Here’s how it went! My go-to’s have always been a sweet white or rosé, I haven’t really ventured out with reds mostly because the first red I had was gross and I figured all red wines were like that. I was definitely wrong! Note, I am a beginner at tasting red wines so these are very amateur notes.

The first wine Christina gave me to try was a 2018 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ashley: I smell cherry the most, with kind of a plumy smell, and maybe prune; but cherry was the first thing I smelled.

Christina: Great! Next time think about what kind of cherry – Black cherry? Red cherry? Ripe cherry?

Ashley: It has a nice deep purple toned color to it and has no floaters.

Christina: Good, the browner the tinge of the wine the older the wine is.

Ashley: There’s no carbonation or fizz – I’m used to the wines I drink having bubbles or a little fizz to them.

Christina: Good! Fizz really only happens if the wine wasn’t taken care of or if it is a sparkling wine.

Ashley: It makes my mouth pucker at first but doesn’t leave my tongue dry for long, it goes away quickly.

Christina: If you salivate that means the wine is high in acid, if it dries out your mouth that means tannins are present. Sometimes people use the word “pucker” referring to both. Next time try to think about what is causing that feeling? Is it the salivation in your mouth like if you just tasted a bitter lemon, or is it the drying out of your mouth/chalky feeling in your mouth?

Ashley: Alcohol is pretty high!

Christina: Glad you picked up on this! Most Cabernets from Sonoma and Napa California are higher in alcohol.

Ashley: Kind of tastes like a Cigar.

Christina: That usually has to do with barrel aging or growing region; you find this characteristic a lot in red wines from Chile and Argentina. If you find it in a CA wine it’s usually due to barrel aging in a heavy toasted barrel.

Ashley: I pick up black pepper but it’s not strong.

Christina: I’m glad you thought about the type of pepper. That’s great. Try to be as specific as you can be.

Ashley: It’s easy to swallow but gives a hot feeling in my chest, kind of like if you drank something hot with cinnamon.

Christina: That is an indicator of high alcohol. Good job picking up on that!

Ashley: Kind of a charred taste, like eating the black burnt part of a marshmallow or pizza crust.

Christina: This has to do with the aging process of this wine. It sounds to me like it was a little “tight” and could have been laid down for a few more years so the balance of fruit and earth could shine through. Great specific description of what you tasted.

Ashley: It’s not something I would drink on a regular but it wasn’t terrible.

Christina: Great, you are figuring out what you like. Think about what type of food you would have this with and if it would change your perception of the wine.

Next was a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon 169.

Ashley: This one gave a rush of burning through my nose upon first sip and swallo2. It reminds me of the sensation you get when you burp through your nose

Christina: This means it’s got a decent amount of alcohol in it.

Ashley: I definitely taste black pepper with this one; it’s very smooth, smoky and earthy. Kind of when you eat a vegetable right out of the garden without washing it and it has like dirt on it haha!

Christina: Haha those are good descriptors!

Ashley: It doesn’t seem to be too high in tannins, after a few sips my tongue started to dry out, but right off the bat I didn’t feel much dryness.

Christina: This means the tannins were balanced, soft, and supple.  That’s a good thing for red wines.

Ashley: I also got black cherry and plum in this one, though it is dry it kind of gave me the impression that it was going to be slightly sweet, because it smells like it but it definitely was not sweet.

Christina: This happens a lot with dry red wines; you get sweet notes on the nose but not on the palate. Good job picking up on the fruit aromas!

Ashley: Overall this is the first red wine I didn’t hate and would actually drink again! I definitely see myself enjoying it with a steak for dinner.

Christina: Wow that’s great!

The last wine I tried was a 2018 Chilean Malbec.

Ashley: Very earthy, I got that same dirt taste from the cab but it’s way more prominent with this one.

Christina: Good descriptors!

Ashley: It’s also very dry, significantly drier and higher in tannins than the cab 169. It dried my tongue out on the first sip and kind of made my throat feel dry too.

Christina: Perfect! Now you know the difference between medium/balanced tannins and high tannin wines.

Ashley: I do pick up on a black pepper, and get some licorice, some bitter blackberry as well. But the dirt taste is what my mouth captures first and sticks throughout the whole experience.

Christina: Okay good observations and descriptors!

Ashley: I wasn’t a fan of this one because the dirt taste was all I could focus on.

Christina: Good! You know now that you don’t like high tannin earthy wines.

Reflection

The Cab 169 from Suisun Valley, CA definitely left an impression on me and I am going to explore with other wines from the similar region and see what else I can take a liking to! Overall this was a fun experience and I look forward to experimenting and broadening my wine horizons. A big thanks to Christina for being an awesome teacher, it’s looking like I’ll be a pro at tasting and winemaking in no time!

If you are interested in wine tasting and help with developing your palate, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Sales@JuiceGrape.com, or by calling us at 877-812-1137. At Musto Wine Grape we are always searching for ways connect with you and help you along in your winemaking and wine loving journey.  We offer a wide variety of products, services and classes to help you create a wine you love and assist you in being able to experience the way wine was created to be experienced!

For updates on harvests, educational tutorials and more, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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.