2012 Chilean wine

Our Chilean wine juice is in, we got 2 Cabernet Sauvignon,  2 Merlot, and 2 Syrah.   These wines come with every thing added, the idea is to bring up to room temp. and stir.  We took reading at that time and discovered the acid was low on all.  We adjusted all wines until we were content.  Here are the reading before and after for the three wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon: SG. 1.096, Acid .25, PH 3.8 added 5tsp of Acid Blend.  .375 Acid,PH 3.8.  Added 5tsp Malic Acid.  .50 Acid PH 3.8

Merlot:  SG 1.092, Acid .25, PH 4.2.  Added 5tsp of Acid Blend. Acid .375, PH 4.0. Added 5tsp Malic Acid. Acid .45, PH 3.8

Syrah: SG. 1.092, Acid .25, PH 4.4. Added 5tsp of Acid Blend. Acid .375, PH 4.0. Added 5tsp Malic Acid. Acid .475, PH 3.8

When your Acid is low your PH is high.  The average PH for a Red wine is 3.3-3.5 for whites 2.9-3.9.   Our Acid is still a little low, but were going to let it ferment out this way.  As it ferments the acid will come up into range.  After about a week we racked them into 5 gallon carboys. These are suppose to be six gallon buckets but they always fill them up to almost the top.  So we end up with 6+ gallons of juice per bucket and since we only use 5 gallon carboys we put the left over juice in our 6 gallon carboy that we have for beer.  Were calling this a Bordeaux Blend. A typical Bordeaux Blend consist of three or more of these grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Frac, Malbec and Verdot.


We racked all of our Chilean wine and they are coming along nicely.  The Bordeaux we put into a 5 gallon carboy + 1 gallon carboy.  We will use the gallon one for topping off.  We also added sulphites to each one.  Next racking I’ll get an updated acid and PH reading.

Dandelion wine

It’s that time of year where I grab a cup of coffee and go outside and drink it while picking dandelions.  Most people consider dandelions to be a weed, but I like to make wine out of them. I’m hoping to do two batches this year, which means I need to pick 2,000 dandelions.  I will be using this recipe.  Like all recipes, you can use it as a base and add your own flare, or follow it step by step. I plan on doing  ours as a sparkling wine (more on this later).  Every one gives Dandelion Wine rave reviews and is amazed that it was made out of a weed that most people hate to see in their yard.

I got enough flowers for one batch so far.  I plan on doing another batch next week.  All you need is just the head of the flower.  The easiest way to clean them is to pull the petals forward and cut at the base on the petals.  You want to make sure you cut off the all of the stem and leaves.


First, boil the water then remove from heat and add petals. Steep for 2hours. Then strain it into your bucket.  The best way to strain it is by using your colander, just make sure you sanitise it first.  Don’t worry when you see the color of the juice, it isn’t going to be a nice yellow as you might think. Its more like a dirty brown.

My reading were as followed: PA 7%, SG 1.076 and Acid Test .30% TA.  I added another pound of sugar, melting it on the stove in 4 cups of must.  I also added 8 tsp of Acid blend.  My final numbers were PA 10% Acid Test .50% TA.  I’m happy with the numbers so I’m going to leave them.  The next day I added Lavin EC-1118.

So get out there and get picking!!!



Wine Log Series – Luva Bella Fall Juice – 10-19-11

Welcome to the  third post of my Wine Log Series. With this series, I am documenting how to make wine by recording my wine notes on this blog. If you missed part 1 and 2, you can find them here and here.  I racked the wine on 10/19/2011 and got an updated SG reading on all the wine,

Burgundy: SG .994 has a cherry flavour.

Shiraz: SG .990 has an alcohol flavour with a cranberry after-taste.

Valpolicella: SG .990 Taste like currants.

Viognier:  SG 1.025 Taste like peaches.

Since then all the wine has been bottled with the exception of the Viognier.  The Viognier is taking longer to ferment out and on 3/29/2012 clarifier was added to help it clear. On 4/08/2012 sulphite was added.  It has a sweet peach flavour.    This wine is sweet enough to be considered a dessert wine and will make a nice gift.  It should be bottled shortly.

The Valpolicella was the first to be bottled, on 2/2012.  It has a sweet cherry aroma and is a full body wine.  It is tangy on the back of you tongue has a cherry flavour with lite smoky undertones.  It needs some aging time in the bottle for it to hit it’s great potential.

The Burgundy and the Shiraz were bottled on 3/2012. These are my two favourites. The Burgundy has a blackberry aroma with a full body. It tastes like a chocolate covered strawberry. This turned out to be an excellent selection and one we will order again. The Shiraz has a tart cherry aroma with a medium body.  It has a nice blackberry flavour with a hint of cherry and a nice smoky after taste.

This concludes this series of the wine log. We will start a new series soon when we start the spring wine juice we have ordered.


Welcome LeeAnn

Please welcome LeeAnn to Frugal winemaking. She will be contributing content to this site. She has been making her own wine for over two years now. She is also an accomplished brewer and makes a pretty good beer. Please be polite and show her a nice welcome. Thank you.

Basic Wine Making Equipment

In the first post about Basic Wine Making, I talked about sanitation and how important it is to successful wine making. In this post, I am going to go over the wine making equipment you will need to make wine. I will describe what each item is for, and when you can use items you may have around the house.

Primary Fermenter – This is the first thing you will need. Generally it is a food grade bucket used to ferment the wine at the beginning of the process. Any food grade bucket will work. If you have a bucket that came with food in it, you have a food grade bucket. Wine making supply shops sell 5 gallon ones for around $15. You can also get them at your local big box store. Be sure you get food grade plastic. Food grade plastic is denser than regular plastic and won’t harbor bacteria as well as regular plastic.

Secondary Fermenter – This is where you rack your wine to after it leaves the primary fermenter. I prefer to use a glass carboy for this step. You can also use the plastic water cooler jugs. Glass is easier to keep clean, plastic is lighter. Choose which ever one you prefer.

Airlock and Bung – This is a S shaped piece of plastic you fill with water. It will let the CO2 gas from fermentation out, while blocking outside oxygen from getting inside. The bung is a rubber stopper with a hole in it for the airlock. This goes on the secondary fermenter. You can get bungs in many sizes. They can be small enough for a wine bottle and large enough for water cooler bottles and everything in between.

Hydrometer and flask – This is used to measure the amount of ferment-able sugar in a wine prior to fermentation. A hydrometer is calibrated to read 0 when floating in water. As you add sugar to water, the water become more dense and the hydrometer will float higher. This is how you figure out how potent you wine will be. You take a reading before fermentation and a reading after fermentation, subtract the two, then you know how much alcohol is in your wine.

Siphon Hose – This is just a rubber hose used to siphon wine from the primary fermenter in the secondary fermenter and from one carboy to the next.

Wine Thief – This is a long tube used to take a sample of wine from a carboy for testing.

Wine Bottles – You will need something to keep your finished wine in. Save your wine bottles. Have your friends save wine bottle for you. Ask local restaurants what they do with their old wine bottles and see if you can have some. You can also buy them at you local wine making supply shop.

Corker – This is used to put the corks in the wine bottles. Hand corkers generally have two levers on each side. You put a cork in the corker, place it on top of the bottle, and push the levers down to push the cork into the bottle. There is also a floor model corker that is easier to use, but it is more expensive. Pick which ever one suits you.

Corks – These are used to seal your bottle of wine. The most common sizes are #8 and #9. Most wine bottles are #9, most champagne bottles and #8. If you are not sure what size you need, take your bottle to the local wine supply shop and ask them. Only use new corks.

Acid Test Kit – Used to test the acid in your wine prior to fermentation. You won’t need this if you only make kit wines. Kit wines have already had their acid adjusted. If you make wine from other fruits, you will need an acid test kit.

If you have never made wine before, and you just want to try it one time to see if it is something you might like, then the above items are probably the bare minimum. If you decide you want to make more wine, then there are some items that will make the whole process easier. They are listed below.

Auto-siphon – This is a handy device you can use to siphon the wine from one container to the next. You just attach you siphon hose to it, place it in the carboy or bucket, give it a couple pumps and the wine starts flowing. Far easier then sucking on the end of the hose.

Bottling Wand – This device goes on the other end of the siphon hose and is used at bottling time. It has a small plunger on the end and when you push it down on the bottom of the bottle, it lets the wine flow and stops the flow when you lift it from the bottom of the bottle. It is far easier that trying to pinch the siphon hose to stop the flow of wine.

Carboy Brush – This is just a large brush with a handle long enough to get to the bottom on a carboy. They are useful for stubborn rings on the inside of the carboy.

This is the equipment needed to start making wine. Keep in mind you can start small with 1 gallon containers for fermentation. They will be less expensive than 5 gallon containers. If you enjoy the hobby, you can upgrade to larger containers later. In my next post, I will explain the wine making process in detail.


Elderberry Valpolicello Wine Recipe

Last week I mentioned that I had a special recipe I was going to use with the last gallon of Valpolicello wine. After making the 6 gallon batch of wine from fresh juice, I rack the wine into a 5 gallon carboy. This leaves me with 1 gallon extra. I decided to make a second batch of wine using the left over wine in the bucket. I had a few pounds of Elderberries in the freezer and a couple of cans of Welches frozen grape juice. That was the basis of the recipe.

First, I use the same bucket that the original wine fermented in, I did not clean it out. When I racked the wine to the 5 gallon carboy, I left 1 gallon in the bucket. I then placed 7 pounds of elderberries in a nylon straining bag and placed that in a pot. I then mixed 8 pounds of sugar and 2 gallon of water in with the elderberries.  Then I added 2 cans of Welches grape juice. I did not boil the water, I just warmed it up to room temperature and added it to the bucket. I then added enough water to bring the bucket to 5 gallons. Next I added 2 teaspoons of acid blend for each gallon of wine for a total of 10 teaspoons. Since the wine in the bucket had yeast still in it, the fermentation started right away. I did not have to add any additional yeast.

I started this wine on 9/15/2011. PA was at 11.5% and TA was at .60%. I stirred it every day to mix the fruit into the wine. (As wine ferments, the fruit will float to the top and needs “punched down” in order to get maximum extraction of the flavors and colors.) On 9/22/2011 I lifted the bag of elderberries from the wine and let it drain. (Do Not Squeeze The Bag!) I then racked the wine from the bucket into a 5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind for this process. First, since the left over wine in the bucket is still fermenting, you do not want to do anything that will kill the yeast. I don’t add sulfite at this stage because I want fermentation to begin right away. I don’t pour boiling hot water into the bucket. I make sure the water temp is withing 5-10 degrees of the wine so as not to shock the yeast. Same thing with frozen fruit, bring it within 5-10 degrees of the wine must before adding it to the bucket.

Second, you can adjust the amount of fruit and frozen grape juice to suit what you have on hand. I used 7 pounds of elderberries because that was what I had in the freezer. I used 2 cans of Welches Frozen Grape Juice because, again, that is what I had in the freezer. Generally, I will use 8 pounds of fruit or 8 cans of Welches Frozen grape juice for a second run recipe. Mix and match as you see fit.

Well, that is one of the ways I stretch my wine. Using this method, I can make two batches of wine for a little more than the cost of one. Both of these wines should be done at around the same time, so I will be bottling 10 gallons instead of 5. That is how you make wine on a budget.


Wine Log Series – Luva Bella Fall Juice – 9-15-2011

Welcome to the second update of my Wine Log Series – Luva Bella Fall Juice. In the previous post I took the initial readings and started the fermentation. I let the wine ferment for 1 week, then I checked the readings again. The PA readings ranged from 0-6% and acidity was higher in all the wines. I racked the wine into 5 gallon carboys. The wine came in 6 gallon buckets, so I racked the remainder into 1 gallon glass jugs. I will use this wine to top up the 5 gallon carboys when I rack the wine later. I did something different with the Valpolicella, after racking 5 gallons into the carboy, I used the remaining gallon to start another wine. I will post that recipe soon.

One thing I do at each racking is taste the wine. I do this to see how the wine develops and to catch any potential problems early. I listed my impressions of the wine that I tasted below. These were the readings on 9-15-2011.

Burgundy – PA 2%, TA .50%. I taste currents and cherries.

Shiraz – PA 0%, TA .50%. I taste a hint of blackberry.

Valpolicella  – PA 0%, TA .50%. I taste a hint of currents

Viognier – PA 6%, TA .75%. This had a strong aroma of grapefruit and it tasted like peaches.

Since the acid readings rose on all of these wines, I am not going to add anything at this time. I will let the wine continue to ferment and clear. Until the next update,