Wine Making Class: Week 4 – Making Table Wine, Refractometer, and Wine & Cheese Pairing

It’s Week 4….only 2 more weeks to go!

If you missed any of the following weeks, please check them out…Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Making Table Wine

This week we made a Table Wine….What is Table Wine you ask? According to Wikipedia the term primarily designates a wine style – ordinary wine which is neither fortified nor sparkling.

Our Table Wine consisted of Table Grapes, lots and lots of them. However, since we are wine makers we had to add some extra flavor. So, we added a can of Zinfandel Blush concentrate and a can of Blueberry Puree. This should make for an interesting wine!

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Refractometer

We also learned about the refractometer and how to use it. For wine makers a refractometer is a tool used to check the brix content of grapes or other fruit. In other words, it measures the sugar content. Sugar content is important, because it is what makes the alcohol content with wine. This may sound similar to the hydrometer; however the refractometer is used to take a very small sample of the fruits juice in order to gauge if the fruit is ripe or too ripe. Whereas, the hydrometer is used to take a bigger sample after all the juice has be squeezed from the grapes or fruit.

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Wine & Cheese Pairing

Every class we have wine tastings, but this class one of the students brought in cheese to pair along with our wines.

The Wines:

  • 2014 Black Spanish Grape Wine (Made by a student)
  • 2014 Elderberry Wine (Made by a student) – My 2nd Favorite
  • 2009 Smythe & Renfield Pinot Noir
  • 2011 The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz
  • 2014 Forefathers Sauvignon Blanc – My Favorite
  • 2013 Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley
  • 2014 Bruno Collection Cardinal Cranberry Wine

The Cheeses:

  • Saint Angel Triple Creme –  My Favorite
  • Murray’s Welsh Cheddar
  • Urray’s Raw Milk Boerenkaa Gouda (10 Month Aged)
  • No Woman Jerk – My 2nd Favorite
  • Murray’s Smokehouse Blue

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Wine Making Class: Week 3 – Vegas and Fortified Wines

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If you haven’t read my prior weeks Wine Making Class, click the links below to view:

Wine Making Class: Week 1

Wine Making Class: Week 2

Vegas

Unfortunately, I missed Week 3 Wine Making Class because of a conference I had to attend in Vegas (Bitter/Sweet). However, I did have my fair share of wine and amazing food while there.

    • Night 1…Dinner at Carnevino! I had an absolutely delicious Maine Lobster Tail over Lobster Anolini Pasta with a glass of Bastianich Rosato di Refosco (2010) and my colleagues shared a Dry Aged Bone-In Ribeye with Mashed Potatoes and their wine of choice. The food was great, but for the expensive price $$$ they should give you more…I was still hungry after leaving!

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  • Night 2…Welcome Receptions catered by The Venetian/Palazzo which was a variety of  fairly good food and an open bar of cheap wines and beer.
  • Night 3…Three Cocktail Hours, Dinner and a After Party:
  1. Cocktail Hour at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut – Amazing appetizers and unlimited wine & cocktails…I had 1 glass of Wolfgang Puck Chardonnay (Pacing myself for the night)
  2. Cocktail Hour at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio  – More amazing appetizers, but the Prime Beef Slider is sooo worth mentioning…I had 1 glass of Wolfgang Puck Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. Cocktail Hour at Lavo Lounge – More amazing appetizers…Water Please : )
  4. Dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico’s Steakhouse – By dinner, I wasn’t really hungry but I had to attend since it was hosted by a Business Partner. I ordered Emeril’s BBQ Salmon, and it was superb! Too bad, I only could stomach 1/2 of it. I also had a glass of Merlot (Unsure of the Brand); however I’m not too sure how much I had, since the waiter continued to top off our glasses.
  5. After Party at Tao Nightclub – By know, I had my fair share of wine but still had to attend the after party and of course there are more drinks. So, I went with a Mojito to close the night out.

Needless to say I was completely exhausted the next day, but still had to put on face at the conference until my flight home later that evening.

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Fortified Wines

I did however, have one of my fellow classmates recap Wine Making Class for Week 3 for me on Fortified Wines. To add a little background, I am a Fortified Wine Lover. So, when I heard this was the class I would be missing I almost canceled my trip (Not Really, but I thought about it…LOL).

So, what is a Fortified Wine….It is a wine that has very high alcohol content due to the addition of a distilled spirit, normally Brandy. The original purpose for fortifying wine was preserving it for longer periods than traditional wine. Most (but not all) Fortified Wines are really sweet. This is due to the distilled spirit being added during the fermentation process and forcing the wine to stop fermenting because of the high level of alcohol being added. In other words, the yeast that is used to ferment the wine, will crap out once the alcohol content reaches 18-22% and will leave unfermented sugar in the wine making it sweet. The following are some of the known Fortified Wines:

  • Port (My Favorite…Checkout my Wine Review on a White Porto)
  • Sherry (My 2nd Favorite…Great for cooking!)
  • Marsala
  • Maderia
  • Vermouth

This class was instructed by one of DeFalco’s Wine Club Member’s who is great at making Fortified Wines. He covered his techniques which involved using Everclear vs. Brandy. The main purpose of the use of the Everclear was to avoid changing the taste of the wine, because when you add a distilled spirit, typically the flavor profile changes.

The class tasted a lot of fortified wines that night….I believe 10 total. Mind you, fortified wines range from 18-22%, so a glass or two if you have a good tolerance level, is enough to get most people tipsy.

All in all, I missed a great class for my favorite type of wine; however I’m glad I got the Cliffsnotes!

Check out Week 4!!!!

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!!!

Wine Making Class: Week 1 – Wine Kits, Hydrometer, & Acid Titration Test

My local brewing & wine supply store (DeFalco’s) has a wine making class once a year in the spring, so I decided to take the class and perfect my craft!

We meet every Tuesday from 7-9:30pm for 6 weeks and the class was only $79 (includes material).

Week 1

After introductions, our instructor (DeFalco’s Owner, Scott Birdwell) gave us a high-level overview of what we would be doing and learning in the classes

DeFalcos Owner Scott Birdwell

For our first class, we made a Red & White wine kit from Winexpert. This was new for me, since I’ve never made a wine kit before and really wanted to know what came in it and the value of the kits before I spent money.

Wine Kits

The red wine was a Chilean Malbec Shirez, which came with:

  • Concentrated Grape Juice
  • Grape Skins
  • Yeast
  • Bentonite
  • Metabisulphite
  • Sorbate
  • Fining Agent
  • Mesh Straining Bag
  • Oak Powder
  • Oak Cubes

WE Selection Chilean Malbec Shiraz

The white wine was a Washington Riesling, which came with everything listed above except grape skins. This kit had a F-pack (Sweetening Juice) instead.

WE Washington Riesling

The Winexpert has a variety of kit types and grape varietal ranging from $60-$245. Each kit makes approximately 30 bottles of wine, which averages out to about $5 per bottle of wine.

Hydrometer & Acid Titration Test

In the week 1 class we also learned the proper methods of using a hydrometer, conducting an acid titration test.

The Hydrometer is used to check the Specific Gravity (SG) in you ingredients before, during and at the end of fermentation in order to calculate the wines alcohol content.

The Acid Tritration Test is used to check the acid levels in your ingredients. This would allow for you to add more acid to avoid a flat wine or to reduce the acid and avoid a really tart/sour wine.

Week 1 Closing

All in all Week 1 was great! I learned a lot, met some really awesome people, and sampled a lot of wine. I’m really looking forward to Week 2 and sharing my experience with you all…until next time!

Link to Week 2