Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Winemaking 101

Have you ever had a really good wine? No, I mean really good? Like great? Probably not, because we just made our first batch and it's not ready yet. But don't worry. In about 9 months, it'll be here. (Was that a bit much?)


The key to a good wine (you know from the wine making experts that we are) is a nice little lounging before the wine making process. This helps get you into the zone. As does a little wine tasting...

Wine tasting

So before we got into our wine making adventure, we begin with a sampling of the options, 11 in all (as best as I can remember, it was a lot of wine). Our host even set up a wonderful spread of wine pairings and each of the wine samples had its own little food buddy.

The spread

I have to say it is amazing how the proper pairing can bring out the flavors. Take this pairing for example:


Or this one:

Right back at 'cha

So, after enjoying the wine flight, we landed on Tempranillo as the varietal of choice - a full-bodied red wine native to Spain. (Here legally with a work visa and everything.)

So how does one make wine without their own vineyard (or bushel of grapes for that matter)? Well, you begin with grape juice concentrate and pour that on into a bucket (sexy, right?)

One part Tempranillo concentrate...

So, the whole wine making thing on your own, isn't really a pretty sight - more like science lab, but it was actually pretty fun.

And so it begins

So once you've got your grape concentrate set up and you've added you filtered water of choice, out come the power tools...

Work it baby

Mix on high power until you have a decent size vortex created. Similar to Stargate, but without the time/space travel. Though that would be cool to jump into the bucket and be transported to a simpler time when people stomped the grapes barefoot. But then again you might run into Keanu Reeves. (No more movie references, I promise.)

After you've successfully vortex-blended the wine, you must take some precise measurements...

Looks perfect

This is much harder to do after 11 glasses of wine. Okay, 2-3 glasses, they were samples after all. But still, precise measurements are required to identify the proper balance. And indicate the alcohol content on the label because apparently it's not simply a yes/no check box (Does this wine contain alcohol? Yes. Check. Done.).

Next, get high.

Inhale deeply and pass the kutchie pon the lef' hand side

Alas, the home wine-maker does not (likely) have French Oak barrels available for the aging process, so we must make do. Luckily, some frustrated wine-makers who did have access to the barrels but not so much luck in making wine, chopped up their entire inventory of barrels into tiny wood chips. Realizing that they still had bills to pay, they bagged up the tiny wood chips, hit the suburbs, and sold them door-to-door.

One more...

Again, precise measurements are necessary here too. The oak chips will mimic the barrel effect adding flavor and complexity to the wine. Too much oak and you could ruin your wine. Not enough and you waste your time and don't get any of the subtle flavors. So taking the advice of our hostess, we tossed it aside, because that's how we roll. We chose the American "Heavy Toast" chips and we went slightly above the traditional 3 oz since we were going to be aging longer and wanted a fuller, bolder wine.

Almost done.

After adding the wood chips and vortexing for even distribution, we added wine's favorite dance partner, yeast, to do all the dirty work. Now the wine can take it easy while the yeast does all the heavy lifting from here on out.

See you in 9 months

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