Wine Making Class: Week 2 – Racking, Mead Wine & Wine Tastings

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Link to Wine Making Class – Week 1

Week 2 of Wine Making class gave us the opportunity to rack wine and create a mead wine.

Racking

In week 1 we created a red and white wine, which needed to be racked in week 2 (transferred) from the primary fermentor to the secondary (The picture above is a secondary fermentor aka carboy). The primary is used to give the must (wine ingredients) enough room to vigorously ferment within the first week. After the first week, fermentation slows down and can be transferred to the secondary, which is a tighter space and limits the amount of oxygen with a airlock (located in the picture above and is the closure at the top of the fermentors). Racking is also used in the process of clearing wine. When you transfer the wine from one fermentor to another, you are able to leave the sediment at the bottom and get a clear and vibrant color from your wine.

Mead Wine

Another first for me in the class, was the process of creating a mead wine. Mead wine is wine that has been fermented from honey (the honey is converted into alcohol). Keep in mind, this is different from wine that has been sweetened with honey. We made a Blackberry Mead.

Blackberry Mead 1 Gallon Recipe (from DeFalco’s)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2lbs Blackberries
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. (about 26 – 32 fl. oz.) unprocessed honey (dry to semi-sweet)
  • Water to one gallon (Specific Gravity – 1.085 – 1.105)
  • 1 tsp. Super Ferment (or 2 tsp. regular “nutrient”)
  • 2 tsp. acid blend (or 3/4 tsp. tartaric acid & 1 1/4 tsp. malic acid)
  • 1/4 tsp grape tannin
  • 1 campden tablet* (crushed – or substitute 1/8 tsp. sodium/potassium metabisulfite)
  • 1-2 pkgs. wine (e.g. Premier Cuvee, Champagne, Cote des Blancs, Lalvin D-47) or mead yeast

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the yeast and the campden tablet. Stir the must until the honey and additives are completely dissolved. Cover the pail to keep out dust and air with the large plastic sheet.
  2.  Crush and dissolve the campden tablet in 1 oz. of warm water. Add this to the must and stir well. Cover the pail again and tie down the plastic sheet. Let the must stand for one day, stirring several times.
    *ALTERNATIVE: Heat honey with an equal volume of water to 180°F and let stand for 15 minutes to pasteurize. (DO NOT BOIL!) Cool and add remainder of water before proceeding to next step.
  3. Rehydrate the dried yeast by sprinkling it into 1/2 cup lukewarm (95 – 100° F) water in a sanitized jar and cover for 20 minutes. (If using “Mead” yeast, prepare a starter 48 hours prior to using.) Add the yeast “slurry “/starter to mixture. Re-cover the primary fermenter and allow fermentation to proceed for 5-7 days or until foaming subsides.
  4. Syphon the mead into a sterile glass jug. Avoid the transfer of sediment and aeration as much as possible. Be sure the mead completely fills the jug – into the neck. Attach a fermentation lock and allow the fermentation to go to completion (.995 – 1.020 S.G.).
  5. One week after fermentation has ceased, syphon the mead into another sterile glass jug. Again, avoid the transfer of sediment and aeration. Crush, dissolve and add 1/2 campden tablet per gallon to the mead. Allow the mead to stand for one month in a cool dark place and repeat “racking” process. If at the end of three months, the mead is clear – bottle it. If it is not clear, repeat this step every month until it is clear and then bottle it. The mead may be sweetened to taste with additional honey, if desired, after stabilization (1/2 tsp. potassium sorbate & 1/2 campden tablet per gallon).

Note: All equipment should be well washed and sterilized with a solution of sodium metabisulphite. Fermentation temperatures should be no lower than 60 degrees F. or higher than 80 degrees F.

Ratio for different meads – (parts by volume honey: parts by volume water)
DRY: 1:4 (2 1/2 lbs. honey per gallon – the dry recipe above)
SEMI-DRY: 1:3 (3 lbs. honey per gallon – our most popular – the semi-sweet recipe above)
SWEET: 1:2.5 (4 lbs. honey per gallon)

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Mead wine will need to be racked more than traditional wines in order to obtain a natural clarity. It will also need to be aged longer as well. Similar to other wines, meads can be dry, semi-dry, or sweet. Our instructor Scott, recommended us setting aside 1/2 to 1 gallon of the un-fermented juice and using it to the final batch at before bottling.

Wine Tastings

Below are the wines we tasted in Week 2:

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  • Martin Codax Albarino 2011 – (My Favorite) From Rias Baixas, Spain the wine is fruity, crisp, medium-bodied white wine with a dry finish
  • Seven Sinners Petite Sirah 2012 – From Lodi District, France the wine is rich, with flavors of jam, heavy tannins, with a dry finish
  • Raspberry Melomel 2011 – A mead wine made buy the store’s staff. It was fruity, light-bodied, acidic, with a semi-dry finish
  • PluBerry – A Japanese Plum & Blackberry wine made by one of the students in the class. It was boldly fruity, medium-bodied, acidic, with a sweet finish
  • Erath Pinot Noir 2013 – From Oregon, USA the wine is a light and fruity wine with lighter tannins and a dry finish
  • Carmenere 2012, A chilian wine, with bold berry flavors, heavy tannins and a dry finish. I forgot to write down the brand

All in all, week 2 was another great class filled with learning and wine.

Until next time…Our should I say next, next time since I’ll be missing Week 3’s class 😦

Check out Week 3!!!

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Wine Review: Presidential White Porto

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What a lovely surprise! I was in the dessert wine section and came across a White Porto. I don’t know about you, but this was my first time ever seeing it as a white wine. So, of course I had to get it.

Color: Golden

Smell: Fruity, floral, with a hint of oak

Taste: Sweet, but not as sweet as it’s red counter part. Rich, full body, fruity vanilla

Food Pairings: I like contrast, so I paired it with Smoked Gouda

Prices: $13.99

I absolutely loved the Presidential White Porto. It pleasantly exceeded my expectation. It gives you that bold port taste with less sweetness and a smooth finish.

Wine Review: Water 2 Wine (Ice Wine)

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Thanks to my husband, I had an amazing wine class and tasting experience at Water 2 Wine for Valentine’s Day. They make a long list of wines in house from grape varietals around the world. Additionally, they allow individuals to create custom batches of wine. Price range from $14.95 to $25.95 per bottle and $365 and up for a batch of wine (aprox. 28 bottles).

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The class consisted of a tour of the facility, wine education, food pairing and wine tasting… lots and lots of it. I tasted a total of 17 wines. My favorite being the ice wine

Water 2 Wine Ice Wine Review:

Appearance – A slightly golden rose hue

Aroma – fresh and fruity

Taste – Sweet, crisp, fruity with hints of berries, leaves a outstanding grape aftertaste which lingers

Pairing – This is a dessert wine, pair it with chocolates or if you like contrast, try it with a smoked gouda

Price – $25.95 per bottle

Also, the Peach Apricot Chardonnay & Cranberry Chianti were pretty good too!

Since Water 2 Wine wines are fairly young, they use a magnet aging method that adds 6 months of aging for ever 30 minutes a bottle is on the magnet.

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I had never heard of this method before, so it was very interesting. I may try it on some of my homemade wines

All in all the experience was great, so if you’re ever in Houston, TX check them out (www.water2wine.com)!
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Wine Review: Llano Estacado Blush

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Since I’m new to Texas, I really wanted to taste some local wines. The Spec’s store near my house has a complete section dedicated to Texas wines, so I choose this beauty!

Llano Estacado Blush

Appearance – A vibrant & clear rose (Absolutely Beautiful!!!)

Aroma – Light, but fresh and fruity

Taste – Semi-sweet, smooth but crisp, fruity with hints of strawberry, and leaves a memorable aftertaste.

Pairing – I didn’t pair it up with anything, but the sign at the store recommend it with Barbecue

Price – Super Cheap…It was only $6

I will absolutely buy this wine again, and again, and again….!!!!