Amazing Clarity in White Wine


This image shows a white wine glass (WMF Easy)...

This image shows a white wine glass (WMF Easy) with white wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am always amazed at how clear I can get my white wines. When I first move them from the primary fermentor to secondary (glass), they are VERY cloudy almost milky. After 30 to 45 days they have cleared and I rack off the clear wine and throw away the sediment at the bottom. After  or 3 rackings, the white wine is crystal clear! After all who wants to drink a white wine that is not clear? Enjoy your wine making.

Tis a Good Time of Year

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This is a great time of year for wine making. Not much to do except rack and taste your creations. The wine making process is over and the new wine is aging and maturing. Each time you rack it you get more clarification and you can taste the maturity of your wines. Racking does have a negative side. Racking too often introduces oxygen to your wine. oxygen is wines arch-enemy. It with turn the color of your wine brown and give it a bad flavor if it is allowed. Adding some sulphites at each racking will help fight off the enemy.

It’s Cold Storage For My Wines



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The Italian juices have finished fermintation (specific gravity is .996 or below). I racked them and cleaned the carboys to get rid of sledge and racked wine back into carboys. The juice is technically a wine now. It tastes like wine and has an alcohol content. They may be young still and their taste will develop with time. After racking I added 1/4 tsp of sulphite to protect the wine for long term storage. Most will be drunk in 2-3 years but some may last for 6-7 yaers in the bottle. I moved the carboys to a temperature controlled room (cold storage) where I store all my bottles. They will sit here until I need the carboys to start the cycle over again. Then I will bottle the wines and store them in cold storage.

It’s a Good Time of the Year


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My Californian juices and Rioja kits are finished fermentation and have been moved to cold storage (a room that stays at 55 degrees F for wine aging) along with my bottles of wine from previous years. My Italian juices are still in secondary fermentation. The specific gravity is around 1.000. After it gets down to .996 or lower, secondary fermentation will be finished. I will then rack off the wine and get rid of any sediments, add water to bring juice back to 6 gallon level and add a 1/4 teaspoon of Potassium Metasulfite to help it age longer. I enjoy drinking my wines 3 years old or older. I typically set aside 5-10 bottles of the 30 for long-term storage (Reserve bottles). I have drunk some of these as old as 6 years. Once the Italians are moved to cold storage there isn’t much to do. I will rack at least one more time to ensure a clear crisp wine. In the spring I buy my Chilean juices and bottle the Californians, Rioja and Italians. The process starts all over again. Home made wine is so much better than most wines to buy commercially.

The Italians are here!


A glass of the Italian wine Barolo made from t...

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I just picked up my Italian juice from Gino’s in Hammonton, NJ. This year I got (2) Brunello’s, (1) Barolo and (1) Chianti. The juice is dark colored and looks great. I had it in primary fermintation for about 8 days (until specific gravity went below 1.0000. I then racked it to carboys for secondary fermintation. I also have the (2) Rioja kits in secondary fermintation. They will probably be here for another week or two. Then I will rack off sediment, add some water to bring all juice bacl to 6 gallon mark and move the carboys to my wine storage room (55 degrees F), cold storage for aging.

Spring Wine Making

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A 6.5-gallon (24.7 l) glass carboy acting as a...

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Spring is a time that I bottle my fall Italian & Californian wines, freeing up my carboys and demijohns for the Spring Chileans. I ordered 6 – 6 gallon bucks of Chilean juice this year. It has completed primary fermentation in the plastic buckets with the yeast and has been siphoned into carboys and demijohns for secondary fermentation. Tomorrow I will check Specific Gravity readings and if ready will add some sulphites to stop fermentation, rack to clean off raw sediment and move them into cold storage for aging. At this point they are technically wines but not very good yet. They are way to young to drink. As they slowly age they will mature and get much better tasting. Then I will bottle them and let them age for 2 years in the bottles. At that time they will be ripe for drinking and enjoying. Here is to enjoying an ancient drink we call wine!

Dry Wines

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Most famous and unfortunately expensive wines are dry wines. People new to wines start with sweeter wines because they are easier on your palette. As you get used to wines you develop a taste for them and begin to notice subtle flavors. These flavors can be masked by sugar in sweet wines. As you drink more wines you usually move to the dry end of the scale. So what are dry wines? Most definitions place them at 1.2% to 1.4% sugar. Yes dry wines have a very small amount of sugar in them but most people are unable to taste the sugar at that level.

You control the sugars through the process of fermentation. Yeast love sugar (just like many humans do). They eat the sugar and give off Carbon Dioxide, heat and alcohol. Fermintation in sweet wines is either stopped above the 1.4% level or sugar is added later after the yeast are killed off. In drier wines fermentation stops automatically when the sugar levels are so low that they can no longer support the yeast colony and they die.

My favorite wines are robust very dry reds with a hint of oak but I also enjoy great dry whites with some oak as well. What do you enjoy?

Winter Racking


A glass of pinot grigio wine.

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I racked 5 of my Italian wines today. They were bought in fall of 2010, fermented and have been sitting in cold storage after an initial racking. Today I did the second racking. I enjoy tasting the wines at each step as to how they are progressing. I also look at the color of the wine, especially the whites. I racked an Italian Pinot Grigio that was great tasting even at this early stage and had great gold coloring. The wine was very clear and showed no signs of any residual gas. At this stage if the sediment is low, the wine is clear and there is no gas, I mark it as ready to bottle in the spring. If it needs another racking or shows some gas, I will rack it another time before the spring bottling. It is always amazing how the same wine can progress so differently. I had (2) 6-gallon containers of Italian Brunello, a great aging wine with full body and a dry taste. Both of them tasted good and were clear. Sediment was slight but one had some gas while the other had no gas. I will let the one with no gas go until Spring bottling. The one with gas will get another racking in 6-8 weeks.

It is critical to get all the gas out of your wine before bottling (unless you are making an effervescent wine). I use a drill with a long wine stirrer attached to churn up the wine and release any gas. BE VERY CAREFUL TO NOT OVERFLOW THE WINE ESPECIALLY IF THERE IS A LOT OF GAS! Bottling a good dry wine with gas will ruin your wine. It will feel bubbly (like Champaign) on your tongue. Take the time to do the extra racking(s) as needed. Your wine will be greatly improved.

What’s the Big Deal about Yeast?

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Wine has been made for about 12,000 years and was a prevalent business in egypt around 2,000 BC. Yeast is everywhere. We breathe it and it’s on our foods. So why do we need special yeast to make home-made wines? According to an article in EC Kraus, there are two reasons:

  1. Mixed in with wild yeast are vinegar bacteria and mold spores. They can ruin your wine quickly. Normally yeast has the upper hand but can lose it to these other cultures.
  2. Modern yeast for wine is highly specialized for the job. We have beer yeast, bread yeast and wine yeast all different but similar. Wine yeast has been adapted to better fight mold and vinegar bacteria and produce a better tasting wine consistently.

Wine Making Problems


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The new home winemaker will find many potential problems with his/her wine making. Most are do to a temperature too high or too low, unsterilized equipment or poor techniques. I found a great site that discusses many potential problems and gives advice on how to resolve your problems. You should know what you like in wines and what you don’t. Here are some wine conditions to discuss:

  • Do you like Red, White or Blush wines
  • Do you like sweet, semi dry or dry wines
  • Do you like traditional wines from grapes or wines made from other fruits
  • Do you like aged or new wines
  • Do you like the taste of oak in your wines

Wine making should be enjoyed: the process of creating your wines, storing them, drinking them and sharing them with family and friends. Leave comments and share with my readers what wines you are making and enjoy. Do you have any unusual techniques? Above all please vote on my poll on the Home Page of this BLOG. Thanks for reading!

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