A vintner should at all times keep detailed records of the wine he/she is making, this will help to solve potential problems that may arise and also allows you to consistently produce the same wines, by reading over previous records and notes, from a previous batch. Below is a sample of the log I use for fruit wines, you can print this page or cut and paste into a word processor and doctor it up from there. For grape wines I recommend a notebook and day to day notes on the fermentation process.
Sample Wine Record Log
Type of Wine: __________________________ Batch Number ______________________________
Fruits Or Concentrate Amount
#1 ____________________________________ ________________________________________
#2 ____________________________________ _________________________________________
#3 ____________________________________ _________________________________________
#5 ____________________________________ _________________________________________
Type of Sugar___________________________ _________________________________________
Initial Must Readings/Adjustments
Wine Starting Date: ____________ All Equipment Sterilized _____________
Must PA: _________ Adjusted To: _________ SG: ________ Must Acidity_______ PH:_____________
Acidity Adjusted To: ___________ S02 : _________ Adjusted To: ___________ # C.Tabs ____________
P. Enzyme: _________Tannin: ________Yeast Nutrient:_________ Yeast Strain: ____________________
Primary Fermentation: (From)__________(To)________________ Number of Days on Pulp: __________
Primary Observations: _______________________________________________________________
Final Sweetening: ___________________ Total Aging Time In Carboy: _________________________
Character of Wine:____________ Type of Wine:______________ Name of Wine:_______________
Cold Stabilization (from)_______ (To)_______
Total S02 at Bottling: ___________ Final Comments/Remarks
Final S.G. ___________________
T.A. at Bottling: ______________ _____________________________________________
Alcohol by Volume: __________% _____________________________________________
Date Bottled: ________________ _____________________________________________
Bottling is done after 6-12 months in bulk aging, less time for white fruit wines. every effort should be made to keep as much oxygen away from your wine as possible. the use of a 6-7 gallon fermenting bucket with a bottling spigot makes this job easier. the spigot is located 1" off the bottom of the bucket thus eliminating air at that point in your wine. A bottling wand is also a dream to have, as it is a spring loaded valve type rod that when pressed to the bottom of the bottle it allows wine to flow from the spigot. Once the bottle is full the pressure being applied to the bottling wand is released and the flow of wine stops. You can place a lid on the top of your bottling bucket and keep compressed carbon dioxide sprayed in if you want to minimize the oxygen getting to your wine. All I can say is to be careful and don't let anymore air get to the wine than is absolutely necessary. KEEP your Sulfur Dioxide level up during this process and bottle at about 25-30 PPM content in the wine. this alone helps Co2 stay in your wine, thus helping to keep the oxygen out of it. It will also lend in allowing your wines to age a longer period of time. DO NOT bottle without some S02 in your wine, as it will not last long without it. Use only new or use wine bottles and sterilize very well prior to filling them. keep your acid levels where they should be...60-.70% tartaric.
Tasting and Evaluation
Tasting wine in itself is sort of an art form. There are many elements to wine tasting and to appreciating and evaluating a fine wine. The evaluation of wine and the ultimate judgement of wine is a process of sight (color) smell (aroma, bouquet) and taste (sweet, tart, bitter, astringent) Learning to evaluate and judge a wine, takes meticulous practice and concentration. So I will only give a basic guide here to follow and leave you to practice these things. I can point you in the right direction and show you ways to practice developing your skills as a wine connoisseur. below are the basic guide lines for evaluation of wine, and hints on honing your skills for being able to do this.
Sight will be your first sensory evaluation of wine. Pour a glass only 1/3 full. swirl the glass to see what's know as Rivulets or legs. This will give an indication of body and of the amount of alcohol present in the wine. small bubbles in the bottom of the glass especially in white wines give a sign of youth to a wine. This same phenomena in a slightly hazy red wine can be a sign of some additional fermentation that happened in the bottle. BODY in a wine is due mostly to the alcohol in the wine, and a lot of people don't know this, but it is true. Sugar also contributes to the body or fullness in a wine. Appearance of a wine is an important factor in evaluating its quality and should not be over looked. Once you have looked at the legs in your glass, tilt it slightly and look at the wine at an angle. You should have good lighting and a white background. The wine towards the top tilted edge of the glass will thin out and give color hues. The colors you see here can tell you a lot about your wine. if the wine simply stays the same color but thins out, you can determine that its a fairly young wine. If the color is a brick red or brownish, the wine can be said to have some oxidation, or that its aged a long while and is past its peak. If you get an orange color in hue, the wine is said to be peaking and will be at its best.
Smell will be your second sensory evaluation of wine. this can be broken down into two components. The aroma, and the bouquet. The aroma of a wine is the smell of the fruit or the smell derived from the fruit used to make the wine. The bouquet is a smell derived from the chemical changes, the fermentation, and aging process of the wine. There are other smells in a wine that can be detected such as alcohol, acidity and some spoilage or oxidization smells. Sulfur Dioxide is among some of these smells, and can be detected in a wine that has been over sulfated. (odor of burning match tip) Of prominence and often desirable especially in red wines is the smell of vanilla or oak, cause by aging in oak barrels. Other faint smells often relating to sufficient aging will be fruit flavors such as apple, raspberry, (berry) pear, and peach to name a few. these aromas are part of the bouquet of a wine and are derived from the chemical process in the bottle as the wine ages, and from fermentation. Complexity in a wine is the blending of all of these smells and often takes practice and intense concentration to detect these supple aromas. I suggest buying your favorite style or variety of wine, by several different wineries and then testing each of them with your nose to see if you can pick out the differences in them. Smell has a very strong link to memory, and with enough practice you will be able to tell the type of wine just by the smell. I will even go so far as to say there are some that can tell the alcohol content, year of vintage, and winery that produced a certain wine.
- Taste will be your last sensory evaluation of the wine your are drinking. You will want to take a good mouthful and swirl it around in your mouth. now hold it there and let it sit on the tongue for a second. bring it to the back of your mouth and let the vapors rise up into the nasal cavity. You can actually get a better sense of the flavors by the neo nasal impression the wine gives you than by tasting alone. Swallow the wine, paying attention the sensations on the tongue, how the flavors roll from the tongue, the aftertaste, and how long the taste of the wine stays with you. The taste of Acidity, tannin, and fruit should be noted. Is it tart, harsh, bitter, Oaky, ect. Through practice you will learn to recognize a quality wine when you taste it. You will also learn the subtle nuances of a wine and what chemicals, and processes contribute to certain flavors.. Drink, Taste, and Enjoy.
Strictly for when you are the winemaker, and at bottling time. Just because a certain wine does not meet your criteria for a fine wine, you don't have to send it down the drain. Most all commercial wines a blended, with only a few exceptions. You to can blend your finished wines at home to achieve a good wine from one or two excellent wines, and one mediocre wine. This is delicate procedure and should be tested in small glass full batches at first. You take your wines you want to try and blend and pour say 1/3 of glass full, and then add another 1/3 of the another type of wine. this would be a 50/50 blend. You could do a 20/20/60 blend of three kinds of wines. Now only and I say only if you find a blend that's better than the individual parts of the blend, do you commit yourself to blending the entire batch of wines. some guidelines are listed below for blending.
Blend only like wines.. e.g. reds to reds, whites to whites.
A high acid wine could be blended with an insipid or low acid wine.
Do many test runs before final commitment to blend
A high alcohol wine can be blended with a low alcohol wine
A wine lacking color could be blended with a wine that has deep color
A wine lacking flavor could be blending with a heavy flavored wine.
You get the idea here. What your looking for is a balanced final product that improves two or more individual wines by making a single wine from them. Oh by the way this requires lots of tasting.. so it is fun!!!
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Revised: May 24, 1999.