Winter and Racking Time

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Pinot noir grapes have a much darker hue than ...

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Usually I don’t mind racking in the winter. Afterall there isn’t much else to do when it’s cold outside. This year delivered one of the warmest winters in history to the northeast. With that said, I racked my Californian & Italian juices this week as well as two kits (Rioja). As I rack each wine, I try a small sample to see how it’s progressing. The Californian Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir were both great but still young. The Italian Barolo was great and could be drunk now. The Italian Brunello and Chianti were also great but still young. Brunellos typically take 4 to 5 years to reach a great mature flavor. The Rioja kits were magnificent and ready to drink. None of these will be drunk yet. I will bottle them in April, freeing up carboys and demijohns for this years Chilean wines. They will sit in cold storage for 2 to 3 years minimum and then be enjoyed. Hears to the great taste of wine!

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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.

Snowy Day to Rack my Wine

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Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...

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On this day with snow and ice falling, I decided it was a good day to rack my wine. I have two industrial strength wire tables that hold 3 carboys/demijohns each, so I can rack 6 bottles at a time. I first sterilize each piece of equipment I will use. I place a plastic bucket (from the Must) below each bottle and siphon out the wine. I look for clarity as the wine moves into the bucket. The siphon prevents the last bit of wine to be moved with the sediment in it. I then wash the glass bottle and siphon. I use a standard drill with a wine stirrer (you can buy these in any wine making supply store or on the net. I stir the wine to release gasses. If it starts to foam up, STOP or it will overflow onto your floor. I make note in the cellar log of how much gas I find in the wine. You NEVER want to bottle with gas or it will never escape (unless you are making Champaign). I place the bucket of wine up on the wire table and the empty carboy/demijohn below it. Now I re-siphon the wine (clarified) back into the glass bottle. I move the racked wines to the floor and put up any other bottles to be racked on the wire table. I normally leave them settle on the table for 4 to 5 days. This allows the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle. Do not move or shake the bottles or the sediment will go back into the wine. I normally taste my wines as I rack them to get a feeling of how they are progressing. They are getting closer to bottling day and then they can be enjoyed.

Winter and Wine Making

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Sangiovese grapes in a vineyard of Montalcino,...

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I am in the north-east and its cold this time of year. Wine making involves a time for yeast to transform sweet grape juice into dry wonderful wine. Yeast needs temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F. I tried making a few kits last year around this time. I needed to turn on space heaters to get the area up to 65 degrees F. That probably cost me more than the Must did. I was filling a relatively dead time in home wine making in with a few kits. I will still make kits but do them in Spring, Summer or Fall. This time of year I rack my wine but otherwise sit back and dream about what it will become in the next year or so. I usually dream about this while opening a bottle of 4 or 5-year-old wine. It is always amazing to me how the wine changes. As it ages it get mellow and the flavors are stronger. Yum!

Home Wine making is all about a craft and a bit of an art that brings you so much pleasure. You watch your Must change into a young wine and then mature into older and older wines. You might experiment with blending different wines to come up with a unique wine. In reality all wine is unique. Like snow flakes, no two are the same. You might drink some wine you made a few years ago and say WOW what a great wine. You can by the same Must from the same country, The problem is the vintage (year) is different and your racking, fermenting and handling is different. The amount of aging and temperatures are different. All of these things cause the Must to produce a very different wine. Although all Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon taste similar, each has its own unique flavors.

Learn about wine, make some and enjoy it with family and friends.