Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pinot Grigio Update

Today I rechecked the Pinot Grigio juice density, and found it had dropped to 1.074. I think that the juice warmed up, and also some wild yeast fermentation. 

I decided to add some sugar. After a great deal of thought I bought some apple juice concentrate. I added two 12 ounce cans of Old Orchard frozen juice concentrate. The secret is that I used Apple-Cranberry and Apple-Cherry instead. Not very traditional or legal for a real wine maker. All juice though. I also added 100 grams of sugar. This should get me 10-12% of alcohol. 

Wine Alcohol Content Table

I have been wondering about whether I need to add more sugar to my Pinot Grigio to make it more robust; that is to say higher alcohol content. I want my wine to burn a bit and be a little astringent. 

This table is lifted in whole cloth from . The original source is . 

Beekman rages about how the measured alcohol content is actually lower than the government standard, and that the additive levels are too high. I would want to know more about how the tests were run before I would say that. I am certain that the large mega-wineries know their alcohol content to the hundreth place, and that there is no product manager that wants to go to jail or wreck the reputation of the company by watering down the wine. 

  Alcohol Alcohol Sugar Sulfites Polyphenols Catechins Resveratrol
  Actual % Labeled % ppm. mg/gram mg/175g mg/liter
RED WINES TESTED              
Yellow Tail Merlot 11.1 13.5 0.5 103 3.26 102.4 2.00
Rosemount Shiraz 10.9 14 0.2 104 3.22   84.7 2.01
Columbia Crest Merlot/Cab 10.8 13 0   99 3.20   93.6 0.60
Clos du Bois Merlot 10.8 13 0 140 3.24   93.1 2.28
Blackstone Merlot 10.7 13 0.4 152 3.05 116.9 1.11
Beringer Founders Cab 10.5 13.3 0 198 3.62   83.6 0.39
BV Coastal Cab 10.5 13 0 122 3.40   69.5 0.43
Rodney Strong Cabernet 10.5 13.8 0 140 3.76   77.3 1.19
Concha y Toro Merlot 10.3 13 0.4 231 2.77   78.4 5.95

  Alcohol Alcohol Sugar Sulfites Polyphenols Catechins Resveratrol
  Actual % Labeled % ppm. mg/gram mg/175g mg/liter
WHITE WINES TESTED              
Woodbridge Chardonnay 11.2 13.5 0 224 0.41 58.3 0.14
Fetzer Chard 11.1 13.5 0.4 184 0.39 39.8 0.11
Kendall Jackson VR Chard 11.0 13.5 0.6 201 0.48 26.4 0.22
Ch. St. Michelle Chard 10.8 13 0.1 208 0.40 39.5 0.09
Lindemans Bin 65 Chard 10.7 13.5 0.3 241 0.52 58.9 0.34
Vendange Chard 10.7 13 0.6 215 0.39 34.6 0.29
Corbett Canyon Chard 10.7 13 0.6 174 0.36 27.9 0.09
Glen Ellen Chard 10.6 13 0.5 154 0.30 27.9 0.09
E & J Gallo Chard 10.6 13.5 0.7 153 0.27 15.4 0.09
Duboueuf Francais Blanc 10.4 12 0 287 0.47 28.5 0.29
Sutter Home Chard 10.0 13 0.9 205 0.42 36.1 0.09
Bella Serra Pinot Grigio   9.7 12 0.3 308 0.34 13.5 1.66
Bolla Soave   9.7 12 0.2 199 0.30 9.8 0.16
Cavit Pinot Grigio   9.6 12 0.4 276 0.35 14.4 0.09
Almaden Mt. Chablis   9.4 11.5 0.8 233 0.33 7.3 0.09
Franzia Chablis (5L box)   8.8 11 1.1 212 0.35 10.2 0.09
Livingston Cellars Chablis   8.4 10.5 1.1 240 0.33 10.7 0.09
Carlo Rossi Chablis   8.2 10.5 1.6 172 0.32 15.2 0.09

My Pinot Grigio should turn out at about 9.5% which is almost on top of the Pinot Grigio in the table. This does not include any alcohol that is already in the grape juice, which must be measurable. Based on this I will probably leave it alone. 

Having said that I would have expected Pinot Grigio at 11-12%.  I am a little tempted to add some apple juice concentrate for some fruity flavor and a little extra uumph. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008 Pinot Grigio

I was pleased with how the Merlot is going so I started my white this week. The truth is that I wanted White Zinfandel, but they were out. Pinot Grigio will always remind me of the movie Sideways.

The juice is 6 gallons from Lodi Gold in California. The juice just tastes wonderful. I hope the wine tastes as good. I have transfered it to a clean container for the initial fermentation, and put in the sulfite.

The initial density is only 1.072 g/ml, so I am a little concerned that this wine will be too weak. I may need to add some sugar, or perhaps some sweet fruit juice. This will make a wine of 9.2% alcohol, as compares to over 14% for my Merlot, which itself could be higher. 

2008 Merlot Wine - 1 Week Update

I started the wine by killing the native yeast last Saturday with potassium metabisulfite. On Sunday, I added a yeast Saccharomyces bayanus from Lallemand, which is a powdered yeast. The theory being that this yeast will give me a nice high alcohol conversion, better than the native yeast. I also added both yeast nutrient and yeast energizer from Carlson.

The density and the underlying sugar content dropped quickly over the first 24 hours. 

Density Date
1.091 g/ml 22 Sept
1.022 23 Sept  Big drop
1.012 24 Sept
1.011 26 Sept
1.010 27 Sept

Today I washed out the demijohn, and transfered the wine in with a siphon. I put the trap on top, and it was bubbling. I have a video of it, but it was a little dull, so I did not post it. The demijohn was about 2L too big, so I topped it off with some Yellow Tail Merlot.   

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wine Making: 2008 Merlot

I have been toying with making wine for a few years. I made wine about five years ago.

I went in to Detroit to California Grapes on Fort Street, to an old, family run place that sells wine grapes, and indeed juice. I could write a posting just on this store. It is old, traditional and it smells like wine must, but it is also a regular business with the names of the owners painted on the side of building. Definitely not like Walmart.

After pricing the wine press and grape crusher -- I decided to buy a 6 gallon pail of Merlot juice. I have enough equipment to buy as it is, next year I can get a grape crusher, and then perhaps in two years the wine press.

I am going to do a whole wine making procedure in a future post. Today the important thing is to kill the natural yeast with metabisulfite, and then to put another strain of yeast in. My grandfather used to try to encourage the nature yeast for more flavor. I have regarded yeast strain selection as elitist in the past. On the other hand, many people say it is important, and so I was persuaded to use Saccharomyces bayanus from Lalvin.

Right now it is in the basement with a gentle bubbling from the yeast. It has been about 12 hours. The idea for the next week or so, is to let the primary fermentation take place in a plastic pail. Happily I had an eight gallon pail that works great.

The big question now is whether to make another 6 gallon pail. I know I want to try a lighter white wine, but I also know that I don't drink wine that fast.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Deregulation Fails American Financial Markets; Crowd Psychology Dominates

A generation of financial policy based on deregulation has passed away. The Reagan era supply-siders who created huge budget deficits and who de-regulated industry after industry are waking up discredited. Another generation of financial pros will grow up with this as the signature event of their time. 

Everyone who said that we should have known better is wrong. The housing market crumble followed by the mortgage loan crash was unforeseeable except in hindsight. This is because the "markets" are not so knowledgeable as the financial theorists proclaim. They are big crowds subject to crowd psychology. The premium that goes to independent action is sometimes delayed by decades.

Having said that, this type of market crash and buyout will never happen again. That is because the hundreds of thousands of financial acolytes are learning a lesson this week.

Second, housing assets were too expensive at a time when personal incomes were not growing fast enough. The housing bubble was puffed up with cheap money, and just a little monetary deflation caused the bubble to shrivel.  Blame can be cast at supply side policies slighted the middle class for slight faster short term growth. 

The buy-out will speed the healing of the market. It probably will be paid for in ten years of increased inflation. Inflation is the real cure for the house price problem. I don't think a central banker will every utter that sentence because the Fed cannot be seen to be encouraging inflation. On the other hand, buying 500 billion in bonds will certainly inflate the money supply and the economy. This will cause new lows for the dollar. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Katie and Wyatt's Wedding

We went to a my Niece Katie's wedding last weekend (Sept 6.) It was a non-traditional wedding with the minister dressed like Dracula. As you can see the groom's jacket was inspired by a confederate officer's uniform, but I give low reviews to the pants. 

Most of the guests knew what to expect. Weddings are ordinarily so traditional, and Katie and Wyatt broke some new gound in my family. On the other hand, this was not that counter-cultural, political, strange or Goth. I don't think anyone was too stressed by the tradition-bending.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rohm and Haas and Dow - Six Weeks On

Dow's acquisition of Rohm and Haas is a great opportunity for Dow to Rohm & Haas's hot electronics chemicals business. Dow has never been able to run a specialty business itself, and when the commodity market is hot, it uses its cash to buy some growth. Unfortunately it comes along with some currently profitable, but slow growth businesses, like coatings polymers and table salt.

This merger is interesting because the cultures are quite different, and commodity companies almost never manage to run specialty businesses well. I suspect that the internal focus of the former Rohm and Haas will make them poor competitors in the near future.