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Editorials

Fall Foods to Pair with Red Wine

red wine fall

It’s that season! The air is getting crisper, the leaves are starting to change color and your mind is turning to those seasonal favorites such as pumpkin EVERYTHING, apples and apple pie, turkey, roasted veggies and sweet potatoes.

But when it comes to pairing your wine with those delicious autumnal treats, where to begin?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which red wine to try with your fall favorites.

Venison, lamb or beef stew pair nicely with a Red Bordeaux, Barbaresco, or Barolo. Another favorite dish in the autumn season is sweet potatoes. Pair yours with a rich red Zinfandel or if you are having more of a mashed version, enjoy it with a red blend or a lighter Pinot Noir.

Choosing a hearty vegetable stew with mushrooms or fig and goat cheese on almost anything, especially a pizza, also taste better when they are paired with a Pinot Noir. As it is so versatile, Pinot Noir also goes well when had with pork as well.

When considering meals during colder temperatures, comforting side dishes such as butternut squash risotto go nicely with a lighter Italian Dolcetto. Or a great bowl of Sausage Bolognese goes well with Sangiovese or Barbera.

Another favorite dish to indulge in even more so when the temperatures drop is a hearty chili. Serve it with a nice Malbec that will hold up well against all the flavors of the chili.

If you make a short ribs dish braised with vegetables that are cooked in red wine or something such as cheddar mashed potatoes, you can pair these with a Pinot Noir or Merlot. These red wines are medium-bodied and will add to the earthy flavors of these items.

And don’t forget desserts in the fall. That slice of pumpkin pie would be even sweeter with a glass of barrel-aged Port. Something to keep in mind, you typically want your wine to be sweeter than the dessert you are pairing it with. If a wine is too dry it will not taste as well with an overly sweet dessert.

No matter what you make in your lineup of fall favorite dishes, there is certainly a red wine to pair with it. Hopefully these gave you some ideas as you plan your autumn menu and go shopping for your wine; or better yet, see what you have in your own cellar.

 

Written by Michelle Griffis aka the Nutmeg Nose for MWG
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How to Select the Right Cork for Your Wine

wine corks

 

Now that you’ve made that special wine, you are going to want to bottle it and store in your wine cellar. And during that process, you will need to cork your wine as well.

 

How do you choose which cork to use?

Let us help you with that decision. Here are the four types of corks we offer and some details about each one:

  • Natural
  • Colmated
  • Micro Agglomerated
  • Agglomerated

 

Natural Corks

Natural corks are one piece and they come in grades (based on surface, water content, porosity, and visual inspection) and typically the best choice in most cases.

Aging: This cork, due to its spongy flexibility, is the one to use for aging wine beyond five years because it keeps its seal viable the longest.

 

Colmated Corks

Take cork from a natural cork stopper and fill its pores with glue and cork dust and you have a colmated cork.

Aging: This cork is good for medium aging, looks smoother and glides out of the bottle when you pull them.

 

Micro Agglomerated Corks

Micro-agglomerated corks are made and treated with granules using a steam-based process to remove TCA and other potential contaminants. This is considered a technical cork because of the process that has been used to make these corks, but it still keeps up the popular appeal of a traditional natural cork.

Aging: This cork is suitable for wine with some complexity but usually for wine with an estimated time to consume being about two years after bottling.

 

Agglomerated Corks

This cork is cheaper, pretty dense and made with cork dust and glue.

Aging: This cork is good for low bottling time wines so usually not used for wines that age for more than a year.

 

We hope this information helps you to choose the right cork for your wine. If you have any questions about our corks or which one you should choose for your particular wine or wines, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask us for our advice. We are here to help you. Email sales@juicegrape.com or call 877-812-1137

 

 

 

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Written by Michelle Griffis aka the Nutmeg Nose from MWG

A Guide to Malolactic Fermentation

 Malolactic Fermentation, also known as Secondary Fermentation or “Malo”, is the process in which Malic Acid in the wine converts to Lactic Acid.

A Guide to Malolactic Fermentation

What is Malolactic Fermentation?

As stated above, it is the process in which Malic Acid in the wine converts to Lactic Acid. The primary role of Malolactic Fermentation is to deacidify the wine which affects the sensory aspects of wine, making the mouthfeel smoother and it adds complexity to the flavor and aroma of the wine. The deacidification of the wine happens by converting the harsh diprotic malic acid into the softer monoprotic lactic acid. Nearly all red wines go through Malo while only a few whites, like Chardonnay and Viognier, do. One way to recognize if a wine has gone through Malo is if it has a creamy, buttery mid-palate texture. The buttery flavor comes from diacetyl, a by-product of the reaction.

What is Diacetyl?

Diacetyl is a flavor metabolite produced by lactic acid bacteria known as Oenococcus Oeni. Oenococcus Oeni is the main bacteria responsible for conducting Malo, due to its ability to survive the harsh conditions of wine. It is responsible for the production of the sensory aspects noted above. Malo can happen naturally, though often inoculated with the bacteria culture to jumpstart the process.

When does Malo take place?

Malolactic Fermentation can happen in two different ways, during primary fermentation or after. Amid fermentation, it is Co-Inoculation. After fermentation, it is Post-Fermentation Inoculation. Inoculation that takes place after alcoholic fermentation is the most common practice. When you add bacteria cultures like MBR31 after fermentation is complete, it jumpstarts the Malo process. Co-inoculation takes place at the start of alcoholic fermentation, which allows winemakers to focus on other things such as the improvement of flavor development.

What are the signs that Malo is in progress, and how do I know if it is finished?

The best way to identify malo in progress is bubbles! The malolactic activity can be detected by the presence of tiny carbon-dioxide bubbles. When the bubbles stop, Malolactic Fermentation is complete. This can take anywhere between one and three months.

What are the benefits of each method?

Firstly, the benefits of post-fermentation inoculation include better control of the start time duration of Malo. Lessened biogenic amine production leaves the wine unprotected by sulfite for a limited amount of time. This allows less potential for spoilage by other organisms. It reduces the incidence of excessive volatile acidity and enhances flavor profiles and complexity. The benefits of co-inoculation include lower levels of the inhibitory alcohol that are present at the start of Malo, and no need to apply external heating to the ferment due to the heat generated by the yeast fermentation. This results in faster completion of Malo. This means the wine can have sulfite added earlier and reduces the potential for the growth of spoilage organisms. Finally, a bonus is that bacteria added at the start of the yeast fermentation encounter a nutrient-rich environment.

Need assistance with your winemaking process?

Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help. We offer a wide variety of products and services to help you at any stage in your winemaking journey. Email winemaker@juicegrape.com or call us at (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can assist you.

Popular White Grapes for Home Winemakers

Fiano

Ever consider making white wine at home but needed some advice on what grapes to use? Here’s the list of the most popular white wine grapes you’ve been looking for to help you get started.

Try these four white wine grapes:

Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc

Muscat

Riesling

Why these grapes? Here are some reasons for choosing these white grapes to try in your home winemaking cellar:

Chardonnay – One of the world’s most popular grapes and ages for 5-10 years made in a wide range of styles from lean, sparkling to rich, creamy white wines aged in oak. It’s primary flavors include: yellow apple, pineapple, vanilla and butter with a taste profile that makes it a dry, medium bodied wine with medium acidity and 13.5–15% ABV
Sauvignon Blanc – Loved for its “green” herbal flavors and racy acidity; ages 3-5 years and has primary flavors of gooseberry, honeydew, grapefruit, white peach and passion fruit and makes a dry medium to light bodied wine with high acidity and 11.5–13.5% ABV
Muscat – This grape is available in many styles, from dry to sweet to still, sparkling, and fortified, ages 3-5 years with primary flavors including orange blossom, Meyer lemon, Mandarin orange, pear and honeysuckle that produces an off-dry light bodied white wine with medium to high acidity and under 10% ABV
Riesling – An aromatic white variety that can produce white wines ranging in style from bone-dry to very sweet; ages over 10 years. Its primary flavors include lime, green apple, beeswax, jasmine and petroleum and produces an off-dry wine with a light body, with high acidity and under 10% ABV

Which white wine grape will you try this season? We’d love to hear your experience with these popular grapes.

Email sales@juicegrape.com or call  877-812-1137 to order or discus making wine from home!

 

 

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Written by Michelle Griffis aka the Nutmeg Nose from MWG

Popular Red Grapes for Home Winemakers

king's river ranch-wine grapes-musto wine grape-winemaking-home winemaking-how to make wine-winemaking instructions-grapes for winemaking

Ever wonder what the most popular red wine grapes are to use when making red wine at home? Well, wonder no more. Here is the list you’ve been looking for.

Try using these four popular red wine grapes as you begin your home wine making journey:

Cabernet

Merlot

Old Vine Zinfandel

Petite Sirah

 

Why these grapes you ask? Well, here are a few things to consider:

  • Cabernet – This is age worthy wine; cellar for 10+ years, produces a dry and full bodied wine with medium to high tannins, medium acidity and has 5–15% ABV
  • Merlot –This wine can be aged in your cellar for 10+ years and has flavors of cherry, plum, chocolate, bay leaf and vanilla with a tasting profile that makes it a bone-dry wine, with medium to full body, medium to high tannins, medium acidity and 13.5–15% ABV
  • Old Vine Zinfandel – Ages for 5-10 years, it is a bold, fruit forward red that’s loved for its jammy fruit and smoky, exotic spice notes; it makes a dry red with medium to full bodied flavor, medium to high tannins, medium to low acidity and has over 15% ABV
  • Petite Sirah – Another 10+ years of aging and is loved for its deeply colored wines with rich black fruit flavors including sugarplum, blueberry, dark chocolate, black pepper and black tea and makes a dry, full bodied wine with high tannins, low acidity and over 15% ABV

 

What red grape will you start with today? Let us know what popular red wine you are excited to start making this season.

 

Email sales@juicegrape.com or call  877-812-1137 to order or discus making wine from home!

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Written by Michelle Griffis aka the Nutmeg Nose from MWG

Montepulciano 2020 By Joseph A. Picone, DMD

montepulciano

Montepulciano 2020 By Joseph A. Picone, DMD

I had the pleasure to obtain 10 (36lbs) cases of Montepulciano grapes from Musto Grapes (Frank Musto) on October 10, 2020. Making wine using the many varieties of first class Musto sourced grapes has been an Annual fall event for the Picone family and our friends for the past 30 years or so. Over the years, I have made Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Old Vine Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Malbec, Reisling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, and White Zinfandel to name a few. Each having their own unique qualities to enjoy. Frank and his crew are great in providing all the resources and guidance needed for the first-time wine maker all the way to the seasoned-pro. I was fortunate to have taken a one semester class years ago at Naugatuck Community College on Wine Making given by Bob Herold which together with Frank’s support team has allowed me to create some delicious wines over the years.

I would like to share my experience with you on making this year’s Montepulciano 2020.

The grapes were outstanding. The Brix reading on the refractometer was 25. The clusters were full and the berries were a beautiful deep purple. The boxes were well packed with few if any leaves. We crushed the 360lbs of grapes and immediately added some potassium metabisulphite to kill any wild yeasts. My crusher is also a destemmer, so all the stems were separated from the must during this process. The pH of the must started at 3.70 which wasn’t surprising due to the high Brix reading. I added an appropriate amount of Tartaric acid to bring the pH to a more desirable 3.41 the day of crush. 25 ml of Color Pro enzyme was added at this time as well.

At approximately 24 hours post crush, the Must was inoculated with 35 grams of yeast BM 4X4 in a solution containing GoFerm yeast nutrient. The temperature of the Must at the time of inoculation was 60 degrees F. The yeast solution was well constituted throughout the must. Periodic punching down of the “cap’ was done every 6-8 hours throughout the primary fermentation time.

At 48 hours post crush, the Must temp was 66 degrees F at the Brix reading was 23.5. Fermaid O was added.

At 72 hours post crush, the Must temp was 75 degrees F and the Brix reading was 20. Fermaid K was added.

At 96 hours post crush, the Must temp was 82 degrees F and the Brix reading was 16. I added oak chips to the vat.

At 120 hours post crush, the Must temp was 78 degrees F and the Brix reading was 8.

At 144 hours post crush, the Must temp was 72 degrees F and the Brix reading was 4. 0.9mg of Malolactic culture VP41 was added to the Must and thoroughly mixed in.

At 168 hours(7 days) post crush, the Must temp was 70 degrees F and the Brix reading was 3. The Must and remnant skins were carefully pressed using a bladder press. The raw yield was approximately 27.5 gallons. The Must was placed in cleaned and sanitized demijohns utilizing airlocks to allow CO2 to escape while fermentation progresses, albeit very slowly. The residual skins were heavily consumed during the fermentation leaving behind very little structure. The color extraction was excellent and provided a deep rich purple wine. More Oak chips were added to each of the glass carboys/demijohns.

The slow fermentation in the demijohns went uneventfully and at 2 months, careful racking was accomplished and an appropriate amount of Potassium Metabisulphite was added to help kill off any more yeast cells(30ppm).

At 6 months post pressing, another racking was accomplished without the addition of any sulphites.

At 9 months, I have just begun bottling and I am very pleased with the wine. It is a crystal clear, deep purple, medium to full body, somewhat fruity flavored wine. I expect it to pair well most any dish but have enjoyed it with pasta, pork, veal, and chicken thus far.

Sincerely,

Joseph A. Picone, DMD

Thank you Joseph for sharing your Montepulciano winemaking experience! If you would like to make Montelpuciano emails sales@juicegrape.com or call 877-812-1137.

New Vineyard – Barison Vineyards, Tehama Valley, CA

Tehama Valley is our newest edition to the Harvest Menu.

Barison Vineyards is located on a hillside made up of red volcanic soil and gravel, this regenerative farm vineyard uses its own compost, plant cover crops, and have cattle and chickens on the vineyard. The owner of this vineyard wrote the vineyard book Vitibook (used at UC Davis), and fun fact – won 7 barrel racing competitions in his home of Piedmont, Italy. We are excited to be bringing you grapes from Barison Vineyards this season! We will have Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Carignane, Dolchetto, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

 

This season’s wine harvest is HERE!! Download our Harvest Menu to check out what we will be offering this season. Please email sales@juicegrape.com or call 877-812-1137 to order.

Fermenting Tubs: Product Spotlight

Fermenting Tubs: Product Spotlight

Fermenting tubs: we sell a variety of winemaking products, including tubs specifically made for fermenting. Why is a fermenting tub one of the best investments you can make? Choosing the proper vessel to ferment your wine in is extremely important as it effects the quality of fermentation.

fermenting tubs assorted

What’s so special about our fermenting tubs?

Our fermenting tubs are made of food grade plastic. Did you know if you used a non-food grade plastic pail or tub to ferment your wine in, you can actually poison yourself? This is due to the plastic actually seeping into your wine while it heats up during fermentation! Wild, right?

What are the benefits of using a fermenting tub aside from not being poisoned?

Aside from not being poisoned by your fermenting tub, the way our fermenting tubs are engineered makes a big difference than per say a normal drum or bucket. Our pails gradually get wider going from the base up, giving the must more surface area to breathe. This also helps with any cold spots you may have. More surface area equals better fermentation, better fermentation equals better wine, and we all know what better wine equals!

Do your fermenting tubs come with lids?

Our fermenting tubs do come with lids (sold separately) however; we actually recommend simply using a bed sheet draped over the tub. Why? Let’s revisit the need to let your wine breathe: not providing enough oxygen to your wine can actually give it a rotten egg smell, this is due to volatile sulfur compounds developing in the enclosed space between the wine and the lid. Not only do you want to avoid rotten egg smelling wine, you also don’t want your tub to explode. A closed fermentation tub becomes an incubator, trapping heat with the gasses and BOOM! Now you have must everywhere AND your winemaking room smells like rotten eggs. Yuck. Using the bed sheet instead of the lid will prevent this too.

If you’ve decided to invest in a fermenting tub, visit our store to pick yours up or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to place your order over the phone with one of our sales associates. You can view the sizes and specs of our tubs here.

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Caramel chocolate chip cookies are a treat definite to make you swoon. The best part? This can be a quick, easy recipe so you’ll be enjoying these sweet treats in no time!

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

First, you’ll need the ingredients!

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 & 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate chips (I usually use milk chocolate, but you have the freedom to pick which chocolate you like more!)

1 cup of caramel chips

1-2 Tablespoons of sea salt (coarse)

Next, combine and bake!

Firstly, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Secondly, beat the butter and sugars together in a separate bowl. You can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer on low speed until combined. Thirdly, Beat the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl until combined and then stir into the flour mixture until well blended. Fourthly, Add chocolate and caramel chips, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and place cookie dough onto a baking sheet spaced two inches apart. You can use a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop to measure out the side of each cookie. Press sea salt on the tops of each cookie. Finally, bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and allow to cool.

Wait, nothing is complete without a glass of wine…

Have you ever made Port before? It pairs perfectly with these cookies! The rich textures, fresh fruit factors, hints of chocolate, and sweet profile of Ruby Port makes it a no-brainer for pairing with many kinds of caramel, milk, and dark chocolate choices.

How to Make Port Wine:

You can make port from existing wine by adding grain alcohol, everclear, or brandy. First, determine the alcohol level you want your port to be. Second, use Pearson’s Square to determine how much brandy you need to add. Third, add that amount of brandy and sugar adjustment to the wine.

Want to dive deeper? Learn How to Make Port Wine Step by Step with this Video from MWG’s online learning program WinemakingInstructions.com.

How to Throw a Blending Party

When throwing a wine blending party think about the style of wine you want to create. Are you looking for a fruit forward blend? Are you wanting a Bordeaux, earthier style blend? Once you decide on the style of blend grab samples of the wines you want to utilize. I’d suggest putting them into unmarked bottles with numbers on them or you can put them into pitchers with numbers on them. With the wines “blind” people will try be more creative and less apt to going for only Cabernet.

Next set up your blending stations.

  • Each blending station should have a glass for each wine being used and a glass for the blended wine
  • A small pipette
  • 100 mL graduated cylinder
  • Wine Blending Sheet
  • Pen or pencil

Musto’s Wine Blending Sheet

(email cmusto@juicegrape.com for your free download)

Our family's wine blend

Once you have everything set up it’s time to start blending! Have fun!

Here are a few popular blends to help get you and your family started.

  • Bordeaux Blends – Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Malbec
  • Chianti – 75% Sangiovese, usually finished with Barbera
  • Super Tuscan – Cab, Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Franc
  • Rhone Blends – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignane
  • White Rhone blends – Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc
  • White Bordeaux – Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle

Remember – at the end of the day it’s all about which blend you enjoy the most!

MWG is here to help you make the wine that you love. Below are more blog posts and videos about Blending Wine. Take a look for more wine blending inspiration.

Blog Post: Beginner Blending Wine by Winemaker Chris Pallatto

Great Blending Wines Video

How to Blend Your Wines Step by Step Video

Photos from a wine blending party with the American Wine Society

Interested in making your own wine? Contact Musto Wine Grape at sales@juicegrape.com or 877-812-1137. Cheers to Winemaking!