Chilean Carmenere 2022

>> Tuesday, March 01, 2022

As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been busy since...I think December, working on some remodeling projects. This wasn't just a simple paint refresh.  We ended up taking out a bar and putting in a new one.  I moved a bunch of electrical, added new lighting, moved drain lines, etc. Our kitchen cabinets were long overdue for replacement and dogs and kids had taken a toll on our flooring, so all that was torn out as well. Long story short, lots of trips to the dump spread over lots of weekends. 

We're kind of at the end of all the destructive work and moving on to putting things back together. New flooring is going in this weekend (pretty much the only thing I'm paying someone to do for me) and I'll start installing new cabinets and appliances shortly after that. I feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, the point of my long-winded intro is to point out the probably obvious fact that I haven't had a chance to brew in a long time. Because the time commitment is so much less and because my wife likes wine, I'm about to start on my second batch of wine, a Chilean Carmenere.

This is another Wine Expert kit. For this one, I'm using the yeast supplied with the kit (EC-1118) and per my usual beer brewing process, I'm making a yeast starter to help ensure a healthy fermentation. For the yeast starter, I'm using 1 quart of Knudsen Concord Grape because it's 100% juice and it's preservative free. To this I added 1/2t of Fermax Yeast Nutrient and 4t of granulated table sugar. This was boiled to sanitize then allowed to cool overnight before pitching yeast. I'll let this go for a day or two before pitching.  

Update 3/3/2022
The krausen on the yeast starter (is it called krausen when making wine?) looked like it was starting to drop a little bit, so I decided to proceed today. I'm doing primary for this one in my SS Brew Bucket. Here's the process I followed today:
  1. I added 8 cups of hot water then bentonite to the fermenter and stirred well. I used RO water for this part and ask other water additions.
  2. I added the concentrated must from the kit then topped up to the 5.5 gallon mark. The instructions call for topping to 6 gallons, but I felt comfortable going to 5.5 since I'll be adding my yeast starter, and I suspect the bucket cone will do a good job containing sediment.
  3. Next, I added the granulated oak.  
  4. Lastly, I took a gravity reading: 21.3 (1.086).  I should end up with a wine around 12.1% ABV.
  5. I pitched the yeast and am fermenting at 63F.
Stay tuned for more updates.


Pinot Noir 2022

>> Monday, February 28, 2022

I’ve been busy working on some home projects, including a full kitchen remodel, so I haven’t had any time to brew in a while. I’d purchased a Wine Expert Pinot Noir wine kit way back in July of 2019 that I’ve been planning on making this wine and blending it with some of my barrel-aged sours for a beer-wine hybrid. I’ve never tried making wine before, but these kits seem pretty straightforward and the time commitment is substantially less than brewing an all-grain batch, so I was able to fit it in one evening after work.

For these wine kits, pretty much everything that you need is included, from finings to sulfites to yeast. The only things you need to provide is some basic equipment like a carboy, racking cane, etc. Since mine had been sitting in a dark corner of my basement for over two years, I opted to purchase a fresh pack of yeast. I went with Red Star Premier CuvĂ©e. I also picked up some Fermax Yeast Nutrient. The only other thing needed  is enough good quality water to bring the volume up to about 6 gallons. 

After doing a little Googling, it seems most wine makers ferment at warmer temps compared to your typical beer fermentation. I opted to ferment at room temp which ended up being about 68F-70F this time of year. Visible signs of fermentation wrapped up in a little over a week. Beer kit instructions are notoriously vague and often outdated compared to current best practices (e.g. no need to rack beer to secondary in most cases). The wine kit instructions seemed a little more detailed so I followed them fairly closely. The biggest difference was I left the wine in primary for about 3.5 weeks rather than the 2weeks in the instructions. The wine is currently sitting in secondary. The kit didn’t come with any oak, but I have a bunch of Medium+ French Oak, so I’m toying with the idea of aging it on an ounce-ish. Stay tuned for more updates.