ADVANCED WINEMAKING BASICS
Continued


Winemaking Records

"If you don't keep records, you won't know
what you did right or wrong."



The Wine Log

The wine log is simply a record of the making of a wine. Its purpose is to record what you do so you can repeat an excellent wine and figure out why a terrible wine went bad. To have any value whatsoever, it must be accurate and as complete a record as possible of every step you take.

The wine log will include dates or day references (day 1, day 5, day 7, etc.), ingredients and amounts, test or measurement results (acid, pH, SO2, hydrometer), recipes, observations, and journal-type entries concerning everything you do pertaining to the preparation of ingredients and their fermentation. Remarks about taste at various stages are particularly valuable for comparison later when a terrific wine is attempted again, but only if you have learned (or taught yourself) to consistently recognize and characterize nuances of taste.

The wine log can be maintained in a journal or notebook, recorded in a wine log booklet with form-like pages, or recorded on specially designed sheets which are maintained in a file or loose-leaf binder.

I used to have a wine log booklet which was, I believe, locally designed and produced by a winemaking/homebrewing shop in Colorado. It had sections for recording the primary fermentation, secondary fermentation, aging and clarification, and bottling, but the preprinted format allowed minimal and disproportionate entries. For example, the sections devoted to primary fermentation and bottling were about the same size, although the former was way too small and the latter way too large. After several entries I realized the limitations of that particular booklet and discontinued using it.

Wine Journal Entries

Jon Iverson, in Home Winemaking Step by Step (2nd Ed.), published several "fermentation notes" (Appendix E of his very fine book) which are representative of wine journal entries. His notes for Cabernet Sauvignon using frozen must are published below with permission as an example of this type journal-log.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON
MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION
EXTENDED MACERATION


Day 1. Picked up 5 gal. frozen must, Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, with skins. Label: 26.5 B. sugar; .64 total acid; pH 3.45.

Day 2. Opened pail mostly thawed. Added 1/4 tsp. sulfite.

Day 3. Completely thawed; almost to room temp. Stirred thoroughly. My readings: 22 B. sugar; approx. .9% total acid. (The variance from the label results because one bucket of grapes could have come from any corner of the vineyard and not reflect the average). The must has a great deal of flavor. Added 1 tsp. diammonium phosphate and pectic enzyme. Hydrated 1 pkg. Pasteur Red Yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and sprinkled over surface.

Day 4. Definitely starting to ferment cap forming. Dumped from pail into 10 gal. primary fermenter and covered. Wine temp. is 67. Took to small heated room which will be heated to approx. 75 for a few days, so the wine will ferment at 80 - 90. Cap will be punched down twice daily from now on.

Day 5. Fermenting vigorously. Wine temp. is 93, so lowered the room temp. Added 1 tsp. yeast extract and malolactic starter.

Day 8. Almost still. Wine temp. just under 80. Wine should be tasted daily from now on to see when it mellows.

Day 12. Very slight cap. RS over 1%, per Clinitest. Chromatography test shows ML is complete. Lowered room temp. to 70 F.

Day 14. RS less than .5%. Seems to be still. Tastes more mellow perhaps.

Day 15. Tastes harsher - ? If this was the awaited mellowing, it was not very pronounced. Pressed out of concern about the mild hydrogen sulfide odor that has been present for the past several days. This was resulting from autolysis; i.e. active yeast cells consuming other yeast cells. (If the odor had been caused by excess sulfur on the grapes, there would have been the unmistakable rotten egg stink), To be on the safe side, I added .1 ppm of copper (.15ml per gal. of 1% CuSO45H2O). Ended up with 3 gal. + 750 ml + 375 ml. Set outside to cold stabilize and let gross lees settle.

4 Weeks. First racking. There was so much pulp and lees that I got less than 2.8 gals. of wine from an original 5 galslons, which included skins. Very dark color.

7 Weeks. Tests .72 TA; .2% RS; pH 3.55. It tastes acidic; the acid will probably need to be lowered.

11 Weeks. TA tests .73%. TA must be lowered since it still tastes acidic. TA can be lowered chemically using potassium carbonate or with greater accuracy using calcium carbonate. Since the wine will not be bottled for several months, the calcium carbonate will have plenty of time to settle out. I would like to end up with TA just under .6%, but will err on the cautious side initially by adding only enough to lower it .1% (2.5 X 2.8 gal. = 7 g.). Dissolved the calcium carbonate in 1/2 cup of water and added while racking. Set in the corner of a closet until the next racking calcium carbonate will not precipitate at cold temperatures.

12 Weeks. TA = .645%. Has nice bouquet, but not much flavor.

13 Weeks. TA = .67% pH = 3.80. Would be nice to lower the TA a bit more but will not tinker with it, since the pH is already higher than I would like. It does not taste acidic.

6 Months. Racked.

9 Months. Bottled. Due to high pH, I used 75 ppm of sulfite at bottling.



Sample Wine Log Sheet

I personally think it best that each winemaker develop his or her own wine log. There are several reasons for this, but two are more important than the rest combined. First, it makes you think about what you are doing because you have to record it. Secondly, you'll end up developing a format that best suits you and your way of thinking and recording.

Still, it may prove helpful if you have a sample sheet to use as a guide. Copy the sheet below by dragging your mouse from title to the last line and copying it to your clipboard and then pasting it into your word processing program. Modify line length as required and print it. By using the prepared sheet, you will quickly discover what your own requirements and preferences are. This knowledge will serve you well when you decide to design your own sheet.


Wine Log

Major Ingredient: ___________________________________________
Minor Ingredient: ___________________________________________
Minor Ingredient: ___________________________________________
Sugar Added: ___________________ Acid Blend: ________________
Pectic Enzyme: __________________ Tannin: ___________________
Amount Water Added: ____________ Yeast Nutrient: ____________

Preparation of Ingredients:__________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Type Yeast: _______________________ Starting pH:_____________
Starting S.G.: ______________ Starting TA: __________________

Begin Primary Fermentation: _________________________________
Primary Observations: _______________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Malolactic Added: _____________ Type Culture: _______________
Malolactic Observations: ____________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Transfer to Secondary: ______________________________________
S.G: _________________ TA: ________________ pH: _____________
Transfer Observations: _____________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

1st Rack: __________________ Observations: __________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
2nd Rack: __________________ Observations: __________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
3rd Rack: __________________ Observations: __________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
4th Rack: __________________ Observations: __________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
5th Rack: __________________ Observations: __________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
6th Rack: __________________ Observations: __________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Oaking:________________ Fining: _____________________________
Cold Stabilization: _________________________________________
Chemical Stabilization: _____________________________________
Clarification Observations: _________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Final Sweetening: ___________________________________________
Tasting Notes: ______________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Bottling Date: __________________ Final TA: _________________
Final pH: __________________ Final SO2: _____________________
Finished Alcohol: __________ Finished Sugar: ________________
Label Information: _________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Other Observations: ________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________




Last update was November 2nd, 2000.


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