Before the concept of wine being made from grapes was in existence, our ancestors were creating an alcoholic beverage from what was in the environment. Evidence for this can be found in several archaeological sites throughout the world and even our language shows the evolution of winemaking through the word worty. The word worty had its humble beginnings in Old English where it was spelled wyrt. This word then evolved to worty, which translates into liquor created from mashed and fermented leaves.
The first step to this process to make worty is to harvest your plant material. This can be any plant material that is safe for human consumption. When harvesting this material only choose plant material that is organically grown. For this process, you will need 3 to 4 quarts of fresh plant material.
Once the plant material has been picked, thoroughly wash the plant material and let it drain. While it is draining, wash and/or sterilize all the materials that will be involved in the process. These materials include 1 large container that is glass, ceramic, enameled metal, or stainless steel, 1 plate or lid, 1 sieve or cheese cloth, 1 large stainless steel or enameled pot, 1 drinking glass, 1 crock made from food-grade plastic or ceramic, several bottles with screw-on caps or new corks or jars with screw-on lids, and a siphon. Once these materials have been gathered prepare to sterilize the equipment. This can be done by soaking the items in 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water, rinsing and letting air dry. Another approach that can only be used for non-plastic items is to boil the items for 10 minutes and let air-dry.
Sparkling wine is easy to make but is better left for those who have winemaking experience. This type of wine requires two stages. The first stage allows the liquid to ferment while keeping an eye on the alcohol content. Sparkling wine in the first stage needs to have an alcohol level of 8 percent to 10 percent by volume. If the alcohol level is higher, the bottles run a risk of exploding.
The second stage occurs in the champagne bottles themselves. When the champagne yeast is added and the liquid is bottled, bubbles of carbon dioxide are produced and create the wine’s sparkle.
Before jumping into the process, clean and sterilize all equipment. This includes one food-grade pail with lid, plastic tubing _ inch in diameter, 2 one-gallon glass jugs, fermentation lock and bung, potato masher, and champagne bottles.
The process for sparkling wine begins with making a white wine must. Place the white grapes in a nylon straining bag, add a campden tablet, and mash in a food grade pail with a potato masher. Cover the pail with cheesecloth and let sit for 24 hours.
Wine is a drink that has been made for centuries. It consists of grapes, sugar, and yeast that are allowed to ferment until gas stops being released. Once that is done, the beverage is bottled up and stored so that the flavors can mellow and sweeten with age.
The preparation of the grapes slightly differs according to the type of wine that is being made. Red wine is made from the juice, skins, and seeds of red grapes while white wine is made from white grape juice only.
To begin the wine making process requires that every piece of equipment be sanitized. This includes one 2 to 4 gallon food-grade pail with lid, plastic tubing half-inch in diameter, two 1-gallon glass jugs, fermentation lock and bung, five large wine bottles, and one potato masher.
Human ingenuity is a beautiful thing and, when combined with grapes, turns out a pretty good wine. A simple and inexpensive wine can be made by anyone that has a plastic milk jug, grape juice, yeast and a balloon.
To begin this process one will need to gather and clean a one-gallon milk jug. Make sure it is clean as possible before moving on to the next step. Milk residue and wine do not mix. The remaining items you will need for your wine making includes a balloon, straight pin, funnel and a measuring cup.
After you have gathered the household items, it is time to get the ingredients together that will be turned into wine. You will need three cans of 100 percent frozen grape juice for a total of 144 fluid ounces. You will also need sugar and yeast. There is much debate on what type of yeast to use for this type of wine. You can use baker’s yeast that you find in the grocery store but it will give your wine a strong taste. If you like a milder tasting wine, then use wine yeast.
Winter is upon us. With the short days, and long cold nights, comes one sweet reward: ice wine.
Canada and Germany are the top global producers of ice wine, with Riesling, Vidal and Cabernet Franc leading the charge as varietals of choice. In keeping with the creative drive in all wine production these days, many vinters are experimenting with other grapes including Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Ehrenfelser, Pinot Noir and Merlot. These have met with limited success in true ice wines, but are making strides as icebox wines instead.
To be considered a true ice wine, the grapes used for production must be frozen on the vine, and harvested at a temperature below -8 C, or 17 F. This practice, enforced by law, contributes to the low volumes produced, high prices and irregular vintages. Because the harvest of ice wine grapes must wait for a hard freeze, the fruit often hangs on the vine for months longer than is deemed safe. If the temperature remains above freezing, grapes are subject to rot, and even if spared that indignity can be lost to predation by animals or by simply falling off the vine.
Given these risk factors, several producers are now opting for ‘icebox’ wines instead. This means they artificially freeze the grapes, extracting the same end product without fear of losing much or all of their crop. It also allows vineyards in warmer climates to compete in the ice wine arena. As a traditionalist, I’m inclined to disagree with the practice, but will leave it to you to make up your own mind. It’s my feeling that wine production should remain as natural as possible, and that ice wine is one of the benefits owed to growers and vinters who tough out the long and cold Canadian winter.
When the weather is warm, we think nothing of chilling white and rose’ wines, but what about those reds? How can we keep them at optimal serving temperature?
Chilling reduces the movement of volatile molecules in wine. In other words, it suppresses aroma and flavor temporarily. Also, the shock of a chilled beverage hitting the palate closes one’s senses to flavors. If you want a wine to show at it’s best, it should be about 50-52 degrees Fahrenheit (10-11 Celsius) when you serve it. If the bottle feels very cool to your palm, the temperature is perfect.
However, if it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) outside and you take your bottle of fine red wine directly out to the table, it’s going to quickly become warm. Very warm. Therefore, it’s perfectly all right to chill wines slightly, both white and red, when you plan to dine outside in warm weather.
Wines are generally paired with food around two criteria—weight and flavor. It sounds odd at first to think of wine as having weight, but wine does have a certain heft on the palate. Some of that heft is due to tannic structure—cabernets and syrahs, for instance, have plenty of tannin, while pinot noirs are generally lighter. A wine’s weight also depends on its alcohol content. Higher levels of alcohol give wine a thicker mouthfeel. Wines with a higher alcohol content cling to the glass more, having thicker legs, and considerably more weight on the palate. Swirled water, for instance, has no legs—but swirled brandy has drips like cake frosting.
To choose a wine for a particular dish or meal, I consider the weight of the food before anything else. If it’s light fare, such as heirloom tomatoes, light pasta dishes, salad, or pale meats, I would choose from a spectrum of wines that might include whites and light-bodied reds. If a dish involves red meat, heavy sauces, and comforting carbohydrates like mashed potatoes, I would gravitate toward heavier reds like cabernet, syrah, and zinfandel.
Have you ever wondered what to do with that half-bottle of wine that’s been sitting around for several days? Can you cook with it?
Pour it out. If it isn’t good to drink, it won’t be good for cooking, says Patti Ballard, author of Fine Wine in Food, and Wine in Everyday Cooking.
“Think of wine as food, as an ingredient,” insists Patti. “If you are going to use only the freshest vegetables and ingredients in your cooking, you wouldn’t want to spoil it by using old, acetic wine.”
Always use a good wine for cooking—the alcohol evaporates during simmering, leaving only the flavor of wine in your sauce. Wines labeled “cooking wine,” or old wines that have turned acetic will give disappointing results.
Pinot noir and syrah are polar opposites in terms of wine style and heft, but they share a similar challenge—they’re both confusing to consumers who are still learning their way around red wines.
Pinot got a real shot in the arm with the unanticipated success of the movie Sideways, based on the novel by Rex Pickett. In the story, a wine geek takes his soon-to-be-married buddy on a road trip through the California countryside to visit wineries and vineyards. Their adventure and relationship degrade in direct proportion to their self-absorption and crude expectations, with unfortunate and sometimes hilarious results.
Although the movie made pinot cool to thousands of new wine aficionados, it never really explains what pinot ‘is’.
Northern California wine country is one of the most renowned wine producing regions in the world. We, at Outdora, are proud of our wine country origin and would like to share some interesting facts about our homeland.
1) Northern California wine country consists of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.
2) Sonoma Valley is considered the birthplace of California wine country.
3) “Sonoma” is a word derived from Native Americans which means “Valley of the Moon”.
4) Sonoma Plaza isthe largest town plaza in California today. It is 8 acres in size and was laid out by General Mariano Vallejo in 1835. It’s also only a half-block from the Outdora showroom!