Monthly Archives: December 2019

Good Brett vs. Bad Brett in a Wine

What is Brettanomyces?

Brettanomyces or ‘Brett’ as it’s called in the fermentation world is a yeast. When Brettanomyces grows in a wine it produces several compounds that can severely alter the wine’s taste and smell. There are several hundred species of Brettanomyces, and the type of Brett, as well as the amount present, can contribute positive or negative characteristics to a wine.

When is Brettanomyces or “Brett” good in a wine?

At low levels some winemakers agree that the presence of these compounds has a positive effect on the wine. Sommeliers and wine drinkers alike consider a small influence from Brett can give wines “old world” complexity and aged an characteristic to some young red wines. There are not many white wines that benefit from a Brett influence. Some winemakers are allowing for Brett to come through in Orange wines and spontaneously fermented whites. The jury is still out on if this is a positive or negative in white wines.

Brett is an “old world” aroma associated with several wine regions; mostly located in Europe. These regions are, but not limited to, Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, some Italian wines, some Spanish wines, some Chilean wines, and a few classic wineries in Napa. Many Paso Robles “Rhone Ranger” winemakers are introducing brett to their wines too.

  • Positive “Brett” Descriptors:

    • Bacon
    • Funk
    • Gamey
    • Smoke
    • Leather
    • Old World
    • Farm yard
    • Cured meats
    • Saddle
    • Spice
    • Cloves

How does Brett become a Fault in wine?

Brettanomyces, if not contained, can turn into a spoilage yeast cell that is incredibly dangerous to the wine and difficult to eliminate. Most often it is found in contaminated barrels, is a product of bad winery cleanliness, and is resistant to acid and SO2. Large amounts of the Brett yeast will nearly completely disguise other flavors of the wine and produce negative off aromas and flavors.

  • Negative “Brett” Descriptors:

    • Band-Aid
    • Barnyard
    • Sweaty gym socks
    • Rancid cheese
    • Horse stables
    • Antiseptic

So the debate continues! What do you think?

Is Brett a friend or foe?

**PLEASE NOTE – We DO NOT suggest introducing Brett into your winery environment.

Our next Winemaker Faults & Flaws Class will be in the Spring of 2020!

We will go over how to avoid Brett, how to distinguish between the population sizes of positive and negative attributes in your wine, the steps you can take to extinguish brett in your winery, and much much more! Email cmusto@juicegrape.com to sign up.

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

Wine Spotlight: South African Pinotage

Pinotage wines are on the rise throughout the world.

Wine drinkers enjoy it because Pinotage is complex, yet light in body. Winemakers love working with the grapes because fermentations are for the most part simple and smell amazing. “Strawberry cotton candy” are descriptors we’ve heard in the past. Yet, despite it’s wonderful characteristics, it is still a wine that is relatively unknown and under rated.

pinotage-how to make wine

The Pinotage Grape was created in 1925 and is a cross between two vinifera grapes, Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Abaraham Izak Perold created the grape to bring out the brilliant robust flavors that both Pinot Noir and Cinsault possessed, while making the grape easy to grow.

Pinotage is known to produce smoky, earthy flavors with hints of tropical fruits. We (MWG) source our Pinotage from the Breede River Valley.  This is because the Breede River Valley produces wines that express notes of cedar, plums, and dark berry notes. The wine then rounds out with a smooth, tannic structure. Lots of complex and flavorful wines come out of this valley and now you can make your very own at home!

Quick Winemaking Tips:

  • Please note that if you punch through too vigorously during fermentation you can get an almost burned plastic characteristic. It is better to ferment Pinotage at lower temperatures.
  •  The yeasts we recommend utilizing are D254, D80, and BDX
  • Our Winemaker Bootcampers have made this serval times. If you ever have any fermentation questions please do not hesitate to reach out.
  • Check out our blog post about making Syrah from South Africa too!
  •  Click here for information about our Grower from South Africa.
  • Food Pairing: Enjoy these wines with a hearty stew or red meat.

Interested in making your own wine? Give us a call at 877-812-1137 to get started!

Ringing in the New Year with sparkling wine!

What would New Years be without a glass of sparkling wine in hand?

We have come to associate sparkling wine so closely with celebration that it is difficult to imagine popping open a bottle of bubbly without a particular celebratory function in mind. What better time to celebrate than the start of a brand new year?


First off let’s clarify – can we call all sparkling wine Champagne? 

Nope! Champagne is sparkling wine that comes from Champagne, France. You may have heard of Cava (sparkling wine from Spain) or Prosecco (sparkling wine from Italy). Sparkling wine that doesn’t fit into any particular designation and follow the rules of each country or region can be simply called sparkling wine.

Great! Now that we’ve got that covered, what are some of the things I should know about sparkling wine?

  • There are multiple ways to make it – Champagne/traditional method, Charmat/tank method, ancestral method, and forced carbonation. Each have their merits and drawbacks.
  • It isn’t just for celebrations or big life events, despite commonly being known for this. Some would argue that opening a bottle of sparkling wine IS the special occasion!
  • You can make it at home with the proper equipment, time, and patience.

Looking for some bubble recommendations for this New Year? Any on the list below are sure to be bit hits at your upcoming holiday event:

Champagne: Though the priciest of this list, Taittinger Brut La Francaise Champagne is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the real deal: high quality Champagne that is actually from its namesake! If you’re ready to start your year off with a $49.99 bottle, it’s sure to not disappoint.


Cremant: Looking for Champagne, but don’t want to pay the premium for it? Look no further than Cremant de Loire. Some of the greatest sparkling wines are made in the Loire, and they don’t cost the pretty penny that their cousins over in Champagne do thanks to a lesser-known namesake, but still excellent quality. Try Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace’s Brut Rose at $24.99. 

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose

Cava: At $14, Biutiful Brut Cava is an absolute steal! Look for aromas of toast, pear, and apricot. 

Biutiful Brut Cava, traditional method coming out of Spain

Prosecco: Find yourself a bottle of 2017 Andreola Dry (Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze) and you’re in for a treat. At 11.5% ABV this is a delicious and approachable Prosecco, and with a $24 price point, who can complain? 

Andreola 2017

Piquette: If you’re interested in the natural wine movement, this is your best bet. Made from the already-fermented pommace, piquette is an ancient and traditional method of making low ABV bubbly wine. Light and refreshing, this style was very recently brought back into style by Wild Arc Farm in Hudson Valley NY. Try a bottle of the Piquette which can be found for about $14.99. 

Wild Arc Farm’s Piquette

How much do you know about sparkling wine? Do you make it at home? Check out our upcoming installment of home sparkling winemaking to learn more!

2020 Spring Harves is Right Around the Corner!

As the Holiday season starts to wind down we can’t help but get excited for the coming Spring wine season. We will have more updates in the coming weeks, but why not check out a video from the 2019 Chilean Wine Grape Harvest?


End of April, beginning of May

Grape Varieties:

  • Carmenere
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Petite Verdot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Viognier

Juice Varieties:

  • Carmenere
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet/Merlot Blend
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Petite Verdot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Viognier

Fresco Juice Varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Carmenere
  • Merlot
  • Malbec
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Viognier
  • Chardonnay/Semillon Blend

Yeast Suggestions:

  •  Cabernet: CSM – New Yeast Coming to Musto Wine Grape in the Spring!, Keep an eye for a blog post about in on Thursday’s Winemaker Think Tank!
  •  Malbec: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.
  • Carmenere: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice or BDX: Promotes soft tannins, secures color, and ferments at low heat.
  • Chardonnay: QA23: Promotes apple and pear notes or VIN13: Heightens pineapple and tropical notes
  • Sauvignon Blanc: R2: Promotes fruity and floral notes or 71B: Brings out grapefruit notes and other tropical fruits or QA23: Promotes apple and pear notes or VIN13: Heightens pineapple and tropical notes

So pour yourself a glass of wine and give us a call or shoot us an email to secure your Pre-Order Today! 

Bordeaux wines to try this winter

Are you a fan of Bordeaux wine? Check out these Bordeaux wines to try this winter as you snuggle up in your own chateau to drink by the fireplace.


2014 Château de Pez (St-Estèphe)

This is the oldest domain in St. Estèphe, dating back to the 15th century. Reach for this if you like red wines from the St-Estèphe region, which are highly structured, powerful, full bodied, and oftentimes tannic with excellent aging potential.

Find it at Toast Wines by Taste in West Hartford CT for $55.99

2016 Chateau Landereau (Entre-Deux-Mers)

Yes, Bordeaux makes delicious white wine too, though people oftentimes forget this. The region of Entre-Deux-Mers is producing some of the best quality wine at a low price you can find, simply because this sub-region does not yet have the name recognition that other areas of Bordeaux do. Jump on this deal before too many people realize how good it is!

Find it at The Wine Thief in New Haven CT for $16.00

2010 Sociando-Mallet (Haut-Medoc)

2010 is one of the best vintages on record in Bordeaux. If you enjoy wines that scream blueberry, raspberry, leather, and chocolate, this one is sure to please.

Find it at Table and Vine in West Springfield MA for $49.99

2015 Chateau de Lardiley (Bordeaux Blanc)

Organically grown, this wine is made from the Semillon grape. This pairs great with light fare or as an aperitif before a meal. Think aromas of peach, pear, citrus. Light and fruity with some sweetness, this is a good introduction in white Bordeaux for the wine drinker who isn’t convinced they’ve had one they’ve liked so far.

Find it at Wagon Wheel Fine Wines in Stamford CT for $15.99



Baklava and Wine Pairing

Who doesn’t love a good piece of baklava with a nice wine pairing?

What’s that? You’ve never eaten baklava while drinking wine? Looks like you’re in for a treat! (Literally.)

Especially around this time of year when we get to enjoy so much delicious cooking, a sweet, honey-laden piece of baklava is arguably the perfect way to conclude a meal.

Interested in making your own? While there are a million ways to make it, this is one of the most straight forward recipes to follow. You can always mix and match with other recipes as well. For example, some Turkish recipes call for including pistachios, and some Greek recipes include finely ground almonds to be included within the walnut mixture to aid in binding the nut mixture together (it works like a charm)!


Don’t mind if I do!

Because baklava is so sweet and has an intense honey flavor, try finding a wine that will meet it at this point of heavy sweetness, but able to stand up to the dessert through cutting through with the wine’s natural acidity. This could be:

  • Sauternes from the Bordeaux region of France. This is one of the most important and famous sweet wine regions.

  • Ice wine. You can find producers from Germany, Austria, the northern USA and Canada who make wine in this interesting and unique method.

  • Muscat from Samos, Greece. These rich-hued orange-amber colored wines are like drinking a liquid form of baklava. Apple, pear, apricot, honey, and sweet spice flavors are to thank for this delicious wine.

Or go another route and choose a dry style wine if you don’t have a big enough sweet tooth for a sweet wine and a sweet dessert at the same time. These options could be:

  • Chardonnay. Whether you choose new world or old world Chardonnay for this pairing, make sure it’s been aged in oak, notably American oak (most commonly associated with new world Chardonnays). This added layer of associated creaminess will lend to smooth, approachable drinking with such a sweet after-dinner treat.

  • Champagne. The holidays are a time for celebrating and finally opening up that wine you’ve been saving. So pop open that bubbly and get partying!



Aged Eggnog Recipe

One of the best parts of this time of year is the eggnog.

Sure, maybe not everyone is the biggest fan. But if you do find yourself craving a cold, frosty glass of perfectly spiced nog as you watch the first snowfall of the season, then read on to learn about this tried and true recipe!

And don’t forget that eggnog can make fantastic holiday presents for friends, family, and co-workers! If you make a batch you’re proud of, you can always drop by Musto Wine Grape while our bottles are still 10% off!

Two quick notes:

  1. Yes, this is very boozy. Definitely an adults-only drink.
  2. Yes, this is aged. But if you’d rather not, that’s fine too. (But pssst, it’s better when it’s aged a bit!)

What you’ll need

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 10 oz half and half
  • 10 oz heavy cream
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 4.5 T white sugar
  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • 1.5 oz rum
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 oz Allspice dram
  • 1 oz Cardamaro
  • .5oz Amontillado sherry
  • Nutmeg, cinnamon stick, star anise garnish


  1. Whisk yolks with stand mixer and then slowly add in the sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.
  2. One well mixed, turn mixer to slow setting and gently pour in the spirits and half and half.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  4. Gently fold egg whites into yolk/spirit/sugar mixture.
  5. In its own bowl, whisk heavy cream into whipped cream.
  6. Gently mix the whipped cream into the mixture, so that everything is in one vessel now.
  7. Age in fridge for desired amount of time (30-45 days minimum recommendation for a noticeable change in flavor incorporation and softening of the booze)
  8. When serving, garnish with one star anise, one cinnamon stick, and a dash of nutmeg

You can drink this immediately if you want to, but we recommend aging at least 30 days. There is a distinct difference between just-made eggnog and one that has aged for a month or more, which allows it to develop a much smoother, softer flavor and mouthfeel. You’ll really be blown away by the difference!

Just remember it must be in a clean, sanitary jar. Keep it tightly sealed until you’re ready to drink it. 

Christmas morning popover and Champagne pairing

There’s nothing quite like the smell of popovers fresh out of the oven on Christmas morning.

Have you ever had popovers before? Maybe you have, maybe not… if you haven’t found yourself so lucky as to try one of these heavenly gifts from the baking gods, then maybe this holiday season is the time to try making them!

The following recipe for popovers is a very basic version of these baked goods. You can either add things like butter or jam to them, use them for sandwich bread, or even try baking something inside. The possibilities are endless!

You will need:

  • 8 eggs

  • 1 qt bread flour (all purpose will work fine, but bread flour is preferable)

  • 1 qt milk

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup oil

  • 1/2 T salt


  1. Beat flour, milk, butter, and salt. Add the eggs one by one and continue beating while doing so.

  2. Lightly oil popover pan.

  3. Fill each section 3/4 full with popover mix.

  4. Bake for 15 minutes at 450F. Then continue cooking for 20 minutes on 350F. (Don’t open the oven door while they’re cooking! Keep the light on to watch them and take them out once they have turned golden brown.)

  5. Remove from oven, let cool, and ENJOY!

Note: Serve with butter, and a glass of Brut Champagne. Trust us. Primary flavors of apple, cream, almond, and toast are a perfect pairing with these warm, toasty baked goods. 

Newbie Winemaker Gifts

Do you have a newbie winemaker in your life you need to get a gift for?

Maybe you are the newbie winemaker, and you need to know what to ask for this holiday season!

Either way, we have prepared a basic gift buying guide for you, to simplify the just-getting-started-winemaking process!

1. CARBOYS. The average home winemaker will never complain about having too many carboys – it just means more vessels to make wine in! You can get them in 3, 5, or 6 gallon formats. It’s always a good idea to get one of each to help accommodate varying volumes.

2. DEMIJOHNS. A more traditional vessel to make wine in, these can hold more volume AND not to mention it, but they are pretty cool looking. You can get them with or without a spigot at the bottom.

3. REFRACTOMETER. These devices are used to check the amount of sugar in grapes, and are indispensable to the serious home winemaker who is also starting to grow their own grapes as well – it helps to tell them when they should harvest!

4. OAK CHIPS. As a great way to play around with flavor, oak chips help the newbie winemaker to get a feel for what oak does to a wine as it ages without the investment in, and care for a full sized barrel. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to proper barrel maintenance, so adding oak chips is a perfect way to get the color and flavor dynamics of working with oak.

5. SIPHON. If your newbie winemaker wants to move beyond using a funnel or mouth siphoning to transfer their wine, an autosiphon will help to elevate them to the next level. It’s going to make their life a lot less messy and will take up less of their time to move their wine from vessel to vessel.

6. GIFT CERTIFICATE. Last but not, least! Purchase a gift certificate and your winemaker can put it towards anything they want. Classes, equipment, grapes, juices, you name it!


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

Serving Wine at Your Holiday Meal

We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. But planning your meal and wine pairing doesn’t need to be!

If you’re hosting a holiday meal this year, you’re probably looking forward to the moment you get to sit down and relax with a nice glass of wine. But even before then, you’ll need to decide what to pair with dinner, what to have available for your guests as they mill about pre- and post-dinner, and who will like/appreciate what.

Decisions, decisions!


  • Looking for some bubbles to get the party started? Oregon’s Argyle Vintage Brut is sure to win over the hearts and palates of everyone at the table.

  • With its low alcohol, slight effervescence, and bright acidity, Broadbent Vinho Verde is a wine that will feel light and fresh, even though your guests might not be feeling that way after a huge holiday meal. Low in price, you can easily purchase this wine by the case and keep pouring throughout the night.

  • Any white wine YOU made! We suggest a Pinot Grigio if you made one, it goes with most foods and people always love a crisp but approachable white wine.


  • Nothing says Christmas wine like a wine that is titled “Christmas wine.” Duplin Winery’s Southern-inspired Muscadine blend is sure to please, from its image of Santa on the label, to the sweet berry and spice notes it compliments any meal with.

  • Charles and Charles rose is made from a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise, and Cinsault. An easy to drink yet still very well made rose, this wine will pair especially well with turkey, ham, and cheeses.

  • Did you make a Rose of Black Muscat this year? Or maybe one of Grenache? If so, these are delicious options for the holidays!


  • Pepp Blauer Zweigelt – think sugar plum fairy in a bottle. This little known grape variety is sure to continue growing in popularity as people come to know its medium bodied, bright fruit flavor profile.

  • The Russian River Valley is known for its outstanding Pinot Noirs, and Flowers never seems to disappoint the Sonoma Coast and what its capable of. Pop open a bottle of this to pour alongside the appetizers or the main course: you can’t go wrong with it.

  • Any red wine YOU made! Show off your winemaking skills to your family and friends!

Dessert Wines

  • Switch it up and introduce your guests to some good ol fashioned Hungarian wine this holiday season! Tokaji is a late harvest wine made from the grape variety Furmint. It’s decadent, extremely sweet, completely delicious, and people rarely want more than a small glass of it, so the 500mL bottle that Royal Tokaji Late Harvest comes in should be just enough for everyone to have a taste.

  • Have a taste of local CT agriculture when you pour a glass of Vino Bianco Del Paradiso from Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery.


And when in doubt, just pour yourself a glass and remember:


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