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soulie

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Alright so let me start out by saying that I don't know anyone who makes wine and all that we have done has been a mix of family tradition and information gleaned from books or from the internet. I will continue by saying that I'm going to probably infuriate you with my lack of data and ability to describe an issue. But alas, here it goes: we (the family) have made zin for three years.

Year 1.
The first year we made it the way my grandfather made it for years. We bought 10 boxes of zin grapes, crushed them into a 50 gallon drum (stems and all) and let ferment in the basement at about 65 degrees F. We pressed them after the fermentation stopped and tossed the wine in a medium toast oak barrel. After a few months we bottled it. The wine was... acceptable but volatile.

Year 2.
We pitched red star montrachet yeast but did things essentially the same. The only other difference was about 1 week into fermentation I had read that we shouldn't have left the stems in the primary, so I fished through and took them out. This time after aging in the barrel for a while we put it in demijohns to age for a few months before bottling. The wine was a lot better at first but has developed a flavor. I cannot describe it but it is almost musty.

Year 3.
Last year we crushed, took all the stems out, and wrapped our fermentation vat in a reflective insulation blanket and a small electric blanket. The fermentation temp was about 75 degrees F. We pressed, tossed in a barrel, and has been racked into a demijohn. I haven't tasted any of it yet.

So for those who know zin I have a two-fold question.
1. Is our process getting better or worse?
2. The musty flavor in the zin: any ideas?

Admissions: We have never taken a reading on original pH or TA. We took a sugar reading last year and the year before. Last year was 21 Brix, the year before 24 Brix.

For anyone who really knows zin, I will go to great lengths to provide data: even a bottle of wine.

Thank you in advance!
 

AlFulchino

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did you stabilize after the wine completed fermentation?

you mentioned that you are placing it in a barrel....are you making enough to top the barrel off and leave little to no oxygen present?

you are indeed progressing but by bit...the people here will help you refine things a bit faster

when you say the first wine was volatile...what does that mean? I can guess, but would rather hear it from you

in year two the mustyness is probably O2 exposure during its life

the year three wine you should be attempting to taste by now

thise brix levels are a bit low in my book when i do a zin i like 26 at minimum...and really look for 28-29

acid can be worked on if too high...but you did not mention it......also, if you are bottling in just a few months then there is reason to think it never underwent mlf before you bottled....unless it happenned spontaneously and you didnt know it

anyway...this gets the conversation going for you
 

Wade E

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Ok, you really should step up your game when making wine from grapes. Here are a few things you should be doing if you are looking for a better quality wine. The most important thing is you should be taking and adjusting the ph, improper ph is probably the reason you have a musty wine, either that or you didnt add any sulfite an it is getting a bacterial infection in it. I didnt see you mention anything about sulfiting your must (unfermented wine before adding the wine yeast or adding sulfite after the wine was done to protect it from oxidation afterward. I also didnt see you mention any malolactic cultures to turn all your malic acid into lactic acid which if not dine will leave your wine very tart and hot which sounds like another one of your problems listed. If you really want to make some good wine then do try his method here which will require some additives that you can purchase from http://morewinemaking.com/ like a better yeast like BM45 and some yeast nutrients like Fermaid K and Go Ferm. Dont be overwhelmed please but here is a list of how to male an awesome wine from grapes from a friend of mine who makes great red wine from grapes year after year after year which I will be following this year now that I finally have my equipment to do so.
How to make Excellent Red wine from Grapes :Frank Renaldi:
Day 1
1. Crush and destem grapes (note total weight of grapes)

Gallons of must = (total weight of grapes) (0.10)
Gallons of finished wine = (Gallons of must) (0.8)

2. Add 5.5 ML 10% potassium meta solution (to achieve 25ppm)
mL of solution to add = (Weight of grapes/50)(5.5)

3. Wait at least 6 hours

4. Add Lafase HE Grand Cru (Pectic Enzyme)
gm of Lafase to add=(total weight of grapes)( 0.025)
Mix with 10 times its weight of water

Day 2
1. Adjust pH (3.5 is goal)
Place 1 liter of must (juice, skins and stems) in a container
Measure pH
If pH is high, add 0.5 gm of tartaric acid
Re-measure
Continue to add 0.5 gm of tartaric acid until 3.5 pH is achieved
When 3.5 is achieved, calculate amount required for entire volume

Total liter of must = total lbs of grapes / 2.63 lbs per liter
Total TA to add to entire must = (total liter of must) (amount of test acid)


2. Adjust Brix to 24 (see separate instructions)

3. Compute Alcohol
Alcohol level = (brix)(0.575)

4. Add Opti-red yeast nutrient (std is 227 gm/ton of grapes)
gm to add = 227 / (2000) x (lb of grapes)
mix with warm water and add to must

5. Add VR Supra Tannin
liters of juice = (gallon of juice) (3.785)
gm of VR to add = (liters of juice) (0.5)
mix with water and add to must

6. Prepare and add yeast to must
(Adding Yeast
(per gallon of must)




<= 24.5 Brix >25 Brix
1 gm yeast 1.2 gm yeast
1.25 gm Go-ferm 1.5 gm Go-Ferm
25 ml tap water 25 ml tap water


1. Heat tap water to 110F

2. Add in Go-Ferm – mix in well

3. When it drops to 104F, add yeast

4. Stir in gently, wait 15 minutes, stir again

5. At activity, add must equal to ½ of starter volume

6. Float bowl in must to allow both temps to be within 10F

7. Pour yeast to must and mix in within 30 minutes




At start of fermentation, add 1gm of Fermaid-K / gallon of must
Mix with warm water, then stir into must)

Add 1gm of Fermaid-K / gallon of must after a 8-10 drop in brix



7. Add oak staves
1 stave / 2 gallons of wine
1 stave / 7.57 liter of wine
Total number of staves = (gallon of wine)/2

1. Remove and wash oak staves, then add to tank

2. Press at 0 -2 Brix

3. Get glass of fresh run juice. Press and taste until juice gets bitter

4. Rack off heavy lees in 1-2 days. Get wine to 75-85F

5. Add MaloStart 24 hours prior to adding Malolatic bacteria (20 gm / hL)
Liter of wine = .264 gallon
Gallon of wine = 3.785 Liter
Grams of malo-start to add = (liter of wine) (0.2)
Mix into 10X its weight of spring water

6. Rehydrate VP41 freeze dried Malolatic bacteria in 20X its weight of distilled water at 20-30 C (70-85F) for 15 minutes. Add to wine gently by stirring.

One pack of Malostart VP41 good for 60 gallons (use proportionally to volume of wine)
(Steps for Malo
(1 packet good for 60 gallons of wine)




1. Add malostart after press and racking (1-2 days after pressing)
(Do not add so2)

2. Wine needs to be 61-75F

3. Add 0.2 g/L
gms of malostart to add = (liters of wine)( 0.2)
Mix with 10x weight gms of water
Mix into wine

4. Wait 24 hours

5. Let VP41 come to room temperature. Rehydrate 1 packet of VP41 (freeze dried) into 20x its weight of distilled water at 68-86F for 15 minutes

6. Add to wine. Stir in gentle.

7. Stir gently for one week

You should get a Chromotograpghy test lit to know when mlf is done but you can wing it and just watch it closely to see when the fermenting has stopped but if you are doing a lot of wine I would recommend getting the kit and doing it right. Once you are sure fermentation is done sulfite your wine and you can use this chart here http://www.homebeerwinecheese.com/SO2.html
 

soulie

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Wow these are both great replies, thank you! I'll tackle one at a time.

First let me say that the going has indeed been slow because we're starting to change an 80 year old family tradition. "If we made good wine then, why do we have to do things differently to make good wine now?"

Al:

We did not stabilize the wine in the first two years: I did stabilize it last year with potassium sorbate. We also made sure to top off the barrel, although I can't be sure that we were as diligent as we should have been.

The wine was volatile in so much that the quality varied bottle to bottle, some of it was harsh, some of it very oxidized, some of it bitter. It was all over the place. However the family drank it so fast (no wine in reserve) that it didn't even last more than a year and I didn't drink much of it at the time.

We never intentionally made sure the wine underwent MLF. Adding a culture and providing the opportunity for it to do so is a priority this year.

I'll start tasting this year's batch although I feel really uneducated about what I'm supposed to taste at this point in the aging.

One thing I forgot to mention: we corked year 2 with synthetic corks instead of natural cork.

Wade,

This is a great procedural. I think part of the confusion that I've been having has been that a lot of the books speak of several ways in which to do things. I guess it is nice to have just one recommendation. :)

I did not mention sulfiting the must however I did do that last year (year 3). My apologies for the omission. We did not do any pH adjustment or even manage to take the pH. This, sugar content, and TA are on my list for necessary tests this year.

I understand tart, but what is "hot" wine?

Finally, as both of you mentioned some questions about process, I'll be a bit more specific with what we did last year.

1. Crush grapes, remove stems, sulfite, wait a bit, add yeast starter
2. While fermenting: punch down cap 2x day, once before work, once after.
3. After 10 days: drain off, press, put in 2x 15 gallon demijohns
4. After 1 month rack demijohns into oak barrel
5. After 7 months rack back into demijohns
6. bottle.... soon?
 

soulie

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One more question: what is the point of the supra-tannin?

Don't the grapes get tannin from the crushed stems?

Also I thought different red grapes had differing amounts of tannin. Does this affect how much should be added?
 

Wade E

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Can you possibly elaborate on a brix or starting sg on the wine that is hot? I dont see anything really wrong with that procedure you used. For the wine that is musty, have you tasted this years as of yet as Im wondering if your barrel has an infection. Do you use sulfur stikcs on your barrels at all or Barelkleen. Wood is a place that is very hard to keep sanitary so improper care of a barrel can lead to a lot of wine gon bad. While in a barrel your wine can get a lot more O2 so S02 testing should be checked much more frequent and kept in check. If you take your win e through MLF do not use sorbate on this wine as it can take on a geranium smell and taste and sorbate really isnt needed on dry wines. Take good notes from here on so you can compare to earlier years to see what has been done differently. Warmer temps while fermenting red wines are typically better depending on what you are looking for in the wine. Id step up to a better yeast then what you are using. Here is a good yeast chart.
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/wyeastpair.pdf
 

AlFulchino

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I will just add a couple of things because Wade pretty much has you steered very well

you mentioned in your post to me that you stabilized w sorbate...sorbate essentially is used for preventing yeast from reproducing....done when there is residual sugar in the wine that could start up a fermentation for instance in the bottle.....youneed to add k meta to stabilize against bacterial infection....and that should start as Wade is mentioning w your barrel sanitization....

if i can help more let me know

aside from that...heck your right up 93 in Methuen...come up and visit some time
 

soulie

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Thank you both again for the responses, they've been quite helpful.

1. When done aging in the barrel, I wash it out with water, drain it and then burn 1/2 sulfur stick in it: cap it up and wait for next year.

2. I will check out morewine for a better yeast.

3. I just went downstairs and checked on my chemicals. We used potassium metabisulfate, not potassium sorbate. My apologies. (I did buy some potassium sorbate but we didn't use it.)

I suspect the barrel as a year ago we had flooding and despite the dehumidifier, there was mold on the exterior of the barrel. Based on the mold, I have been reluctant to use the barrel again. This leads me to a question that I was going to place in another thread. Can I make a good zin and not use a barrel?

We've been talking a lot about ditching the barrel and using a tank (plastic or stainless: probably plastic as it is 1/4 the cost of stainless). We would get the oak flavor with submerged toasted oak shavings or something. Thoughts?

Al: be careful what you offer, you just might get what you ask for. ;)
 
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AlFulchino

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when you come up, i will show you some aging vessel options and let you taste an 08 zin
 

Wade E

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Al uses plastic tanks for his wine and I can tell you from experience that he makes an excellent wine. They are called Flextanks and you could use either staves, spirals, cubes or even oak powder to do your oaking with. I would eliminate the barrel and just use as conversation pce now or as a rain water collector. They can ruin a lot f win e if not careful. Id go with the BM45 yeast for the Zin as thats what my friend uses on his Zins and they win all types of medals here in Ct and they are delish.
 

soulie

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Fantastic: it is settled. I'm going with the yeast you suggested and I'm ditching the barrel. (Truth be told the barrel is already in my front yard awaiting a purpose. Rain collection barrel for my garden seems like a darned good one to me.)

I'll also be more than happy to come up and sample a wine and see some aging options. I might have to bring a bottle or two or mine up for comparison testing.

Thank you both again, this has been excellent.
 

Wade E

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Have a grwat night and glad you climbed aboard our forum.
 

AlFulchino

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by the way in the interest of full disclosure...Wade himself makes damn good wine...among the best i have had
 

JohnT

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Soulie,

You are now (thanks to Wade) most definately on the right track. I am almost certain that the "musty" taste you have is wine oxidation. A combo of the fact that you did not adjust PH and aslo the fact that wood barrels breathe.

Ditching barrels is a good idea for the home winemaker. If you want wood flavor, I would suggest using a med. toast oak chips for 6 to 8 weeks.

Good luck and it is great to see that you are carring on the family tradition!.

johnT.
 
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