Archive for the ‘wine making’ Category

A recipe for making dry red table wine

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

This is a step-by-step recipe for a dry red table wine. A pre-requisite to applying this recipe is to learn the basics of winemaking.

Red wines always are fermented with the skins and pulp in the plastic pail; the solids are pressed after fermentation is complete.


* 18 lbs. ripe red grapes

* 1 campden tablet

* Tartaric acid, if necessary

* Table sugar, if necessary

* 1 packet wine yeast (like Prise de Mousse or Montrachet)

Making process

A photo of white of red grapes1. Harvest grapes once they have reached 22 to 24 percent
sugar (22° to 24° Brix).

2. Sanitize all equipment. Place the grape clusters into the nylon straining
bag and deposit the bag into the bottom of the food-grade pail. Using
very clean hands or a sanitized tool like a potato masher, firmly crush
the grapes inside the bag. Crush the campden tablet (or measure out
1 teaspoon of sulfite crystals) and sprinkle over the must in the nylon
bag. Cover pail with cheesecloth and let sit for one hour.

3. Measure the temperature of the must. It should be between 70°
and 75° F. Take a sample of the juice in the pail and measure the
acid with your titration kit. If it’s not between 6 to 7 grams per liter
then adjust with tartaric acid.

4. Check the degrees Brix or specific gravity of the must. If it isn’t
around 22° Brix (1.0982 SG), add a little bit of sugar dissolved
in water.

5. Dissolve the yeast in 1 pint warm (80° to 90° F) water and
let stand until bubbly (it should take no more than 10 minutes). When
it’s bubbling, pour yeast solution directly on must inside the nylon
bag. Agitate bag up and down a few times to mix yeast. Cover pail with
cheesecloth, set in a warm (65° to 75° F) area and check that
fermentation has begun in at least 24 hours. Monitor fermentation progression
and temperature regularly. Keep the skins under the juice at all times
and mix twice daily.

6. Once the must has reached “dryness” (at least 0.5°
Brix or 0.998 SG), lift the nylon straining bag out of the pail and
squeeze any remaining liquid into the pail.

7. Cover the pail loosely and let the wine settle for 24 hours. Rack
off the sediment into a sanitized one-gallon jug, topping up with a
little boiled, cooled water to entirely fill the container. Fit with
a sanitized bung and fermentation lock. Keep the container topped with
grape juice or any dry red wine of a similar style. After 10 days, rack
the wine into another sanitized one-gallon jug. Top up with dry red
wine of a similar style.

8. After six months, siphon the clarified, settled wine off the sediment
and into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork with the hand-corker.

9. Store bottles in cool, dark place and wait at least six months before

Grapes are being harvested early worldwide

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

The harvest comes when the fruit is ripe. This occurs at the end of summer for grapes. So the harvest is not currently under way in places where spring is arriving. Such places include South Africa and Australia.

Grape harvest at Flat Creek Estate, TexasVitis vinifera is currently harvested in the Northern hemisphere. You have other options for obtaining wine grapes. I’ll talk about them in the upcoming guide to making your own wine starting in a week.

Harvesting is very hard work and is labor intensive.

The Northern hemisphere shows grape harvest about two or three weeks earlier than usual. In Western Europe this is not because the summer was sunny and dry like in 2003. It was not. “In 2007, the whole season was early, right from the budding, because of the mild winter and spring” said Luca Vietti, winemaker at the Vietti winery, in the Piedmont (as reported by the Wine Spectator).

Harvest in the first half of August only concerns some white grapes. The regions where vintners began harvesting in the first half of August are:

  • In the USA: the Napa Valley in California;
  • In France: Alsace and Roussillon;
  • In Italy: Lazio, Veneto and Trentino.

Other websites show recent reports on the current harvest: in California, in Texas, in North Carolina, in New York, in France (there and there), in Italy, in Germany. The present post is the first in a series on the grape harvest. The series will end with a snap view of the 2007 vintage. Your feed reader will be automatically updated of the posting if you subscribe.

Don’t believe mentions of a good vintage yet: it’s too early to address this fuzzy concept: wait until the wine is made! Still we already know that it will be very difficult for even expert winemakers to make good wine in the following parts: Texas, Bordeaux, Puglia and Sicily.

Later articles on the vintage are here: