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Pressing News

 

February 2004
Volume2, Issue 2
www.finevinewines.com
866.417.1114

 

Welcome to Pressing News, the monthly newsletter published by Fine Vine Wines, LLC, designed exclusively to assist the home vintner in the pursuit of his hobby!

You can keep up with the changes and/or additions at the web site by visiting the Updates Page. If you discover anything that does not work properly, please let me know.

THIS MONTH ON THE VINE!

WELCOME

I would like to thank each one of you for visiting our site. I hope it was an enjoyable experience and you were able to find everything for which you were looking. As I indicate on our web site, we started this business last year, so unlike big business, we are extremely flexible and nothing we have done so far is “etched in stone.” As a result, being an early user of our site and subscriber to our newsletter gives you the ability to influence the future of our site and company!

We like to hear what you have to say about our site and/or our service, good or bad. Please send your comments and/or suggestions to winemaster@finevinewines.com.

HELPFUL TIP (from a customer)

Controlling the mess:

One of the things that I have found to be helpful when bottling wine and trying to control the "mess" is to bottle the wine over the "open" dishwasher door. When I fill the bottles, there always seems to be those few drops that continue to drip from the noozle/fill tube. When I finish, I just close the dishwasher door and run it through a cycle. No mess on the floor, no stains.

Our thanks go to Michael Capps of Maryland for this tip!

If you have a tip you would like to share, send it to me. I will include it in the next newsletter and I will give you a $5.00 off coupon.

GIFT CERTIFICATES

For those of you that want to buy something for a friend or loved one, but don't know what they need or want, we are here to help. We now have a finevinewines gift certificate, item #9999. It is listed for $25, but you can make it for as little or as much as you wish. Just order the item and tell us how much you want on the gift certificate and if you want the gift certificate emailed to you or the recipient. If you choose to have the email sent to the recipient, be sure to give us their email address and the date you would like it sent. We will copy you on the email, so you will know when they receive their certificate.

FEATURED ARTICLE - The Whys and Hows of Racking Your Wine

The process of transferring the wine from one container or vessel to another is called “Racking” and is necessary if you want to make a quality wine. This procedure is performed exclusively to move the wine off of the “lees” (sediment). The lees primarily consists of dead yeast cells and particles (hydrogen sulfide compounds) that have fallen out of the wine. You want these particles to “fall” out of the wine, so you can have a brilliantly cleared wine. Nobody likes a wine that has “stuff” floating in it.

Racking should be performed at least 3 times (more if you are bulk-aging your wine) throughout the winemaking process. It is very important to rack your wines in a timely manner, as I will discuss later, in more detail. The following information pertains primarily to wine kits, as they do not contain any large solids, like pulp, seeds, flowers, stem or leaves. Obviously, if you are starting from scratch, you do not want to leave your wine on these large solids for an extended time. In this case, you would follow the recipe and perform your first racking accordingly.

For a kit wine, the first racking should normally be performed on day 6 of the fermentation process. This first racking is necessary to protect your wine from oxygen and to remove the wine from the “gross lees” (The sediment that falls out during the primary fermentation phase is called the “gross lees”, and this comprises about 80 percent of all of the sedimentation that will occur) and should be performed on the day specified in the instructions.

A large open top bucket with a non-sealing lid is normally used during the primary fermentation phase. During this phase the yeasts are producing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) along with the alcohol. This Carbon Dioxide cap protects your wine from oxygen and other airborne particles, as CO2 is heavier than oxygen. As the fermentation slows down, the yeasts no longer produce enough CO2 to protect the wine. Racking your wine enables you to put your wine into another vessel that you can seal with an airlock. The airlock keeps all of the bad air out of your wine, while allowing the CO2 to escape as the pressure builds up. This first racking also removes the gross lees. It should be noted that some sediment will aid in giving your wine flavor and body; however, too much will impart off flavors to your wine.

The second racking is performed when fermentation is complete. The exact time frame between the first and second racking is dependent on how long it takes for the yeast to convert all of the sugar. This is where your hydrometer comes in handy, as you should not perform this racking until your wine is dry, i.e., all sugar has been converted and all the yeast cells are dead. The reading on your hydrometer will be 1.000 or less.

For a kit wine, the time frame is normally 2-3 weeks, after the first racking, depending which wine kit is used. The Vino Del Vida kit instructs you to rack on day 20, which is 2 weeks after the initial racking, while, the Cellar Classic instructs you to wait until day 28, which is one day over 3 weeks from the first racking. The manufacturer has determined these time frames are optimal for the appropriate kit based on years of trials and experiments. I have not encountered any problems with delaying this racking by a week, but I would definitely not recommend performing this racking anytime before the number of minimum days has passed.

For kit wines, the second racking is also the time that you add all of the stabilizing and clarifying agents. For clarifying your wine, several agents are used, including bentonite and isinglass. Both agents are designed to bond to the remaining solids in the wine so that they become too heavy to remain suspended in the wine and thereby fall to the bottom of the vessel and become lees.

About one week after adding the clarifying agents, it is necessary to rack again. Hopefully, the clarifying agents have performed their duty and all of the remaining solids have fallen out of the wine. If you are using a clear vessel, like a glass carboy, you should notice a thin layer of lees on the bottom.

Some of the kit wines, like Cellar Classic, suggest one more racking before bottling; however, the Vino Del Vida does not require this additional racking. The reason for the additional racking for the Cellar Classic is due to the increased amount of solids present in this kit. The Vino Del Vida kit is 100% concentrate while the Cellar Classic contains fresh juice and concentrate. I won’t go into all of the details, but the bottom line is that the concentration process unfortunately removes some of the solids. As a result, this wine does not require the additional racking.

If you choose to bulk-age your wine, you will probably want to rack your wine every 3-6 months depending upon the amount of lees occurring during this process. During this period, additional sediment may fall to the bottom of the wine. If you notice this additional sediment, you will need it rack. If no sediment occurs, you can wait up to one year before racking again. I do recommend that if you are bulk aging for more than a year, you should rack your wine at least once a year.

It should be pointed out that you do not want to “over rack” your wine. The main drawback to extra rackings is the increased exposure to oxygen. As I have pointed out in my article about oxygen, a little oxygen is good, but a lot is bad. Every time you rack your wine, you expose it to oxygen. Too many rackings, too much oxygen; end of story!

There are several ways to rack your wine, but keep in mind the objective of racking, i.e., to get rid of the lees. You can pour it, drain it, siphon it or a pump it; however, I strongly suggest against pouring, as you will disturb the sediment and you will transfer more of the lees that you intended to leave behind.

Draining and siphoning can be easily performed if the vessel containing the wine is about 2-3 feet higher than the vessel receiving the wine. Considering that 6 gallons of wine weighs about 55 pounds, elevating a full bucket or carboy may be too heavy for you to lift. Instead of elevating the vessel, electric pumps are available to enable to transfer from one vessel to another without having to elevate the wine.

Draining works extremely well from the fermenting bucket to the carboy. The fermenting bucket has a spigot located about ¾” above the bottom and since the lees are less than ¼” thick, you can attach a tube to the spigot and drain the wine into the carboy and leave the sediment behind. Be sure to gently tilt the bucket to get as much of the wine as possible.

To transfer wine from a carboy, demijohn or similar device, I recommend creating a siphon. To create this siphon you can use a piece of plastic tubing by itself or attach it to a racking cane or automatic siphon. This tubing MUST be made of food-grade material. In addition, when working with 6-gallon vessels, the minimum length of the tube should be five feet. When using an automatic siphon like the FermTech Auto-Siphon, a little longer tube is better, due to the pumping action required to start the siphon.

In order to start the siphon when using a tube or a tube with a racking cane, fill the sanitized tube with water or wine. Put one end into the wine first and then lower the other end into the empty vessel. Your wine will start flowing into the sanitized receiving vessel. You have to be careful as the hose has a tendency to move around in both vessels, so be sure to hold onto both ends or use a clamp to hold the hose in place. It is wise to practice this technique with water first, as it is one thing to have water all over the place and a totally different problem, if you have wine all over floors, walls, ceiling, yourself, etc.

You also have to be careful as you finish the siphon, so as to not transfer any more sediment than is absolutely necessary. A racking cane can greatly reduce this problem as it is rigid and has a cap on the end that keeps the open end of the cane away from the sediment.

Another alternative is the FermTech Auto-Siphon. It is a racking cane inside of a long tube and like the cane; it has a cap at the bottom of the tube to keep the sediment out. On the end of the racking cane portion that fits inside the tube is a rubber grommet that creates a seal. To start the siphon, all you have to do is pump the racking cane up and down several times and you have a siphon!

In closing, I would like to remind you of the objective, “leave the sediment behind”, but I would also like to add that you don’t want to get carried away and leave too much wine behind. If you leave too much wine behind, you will have to use more water or wine to top off your carboys, which could adversely affect your wine. Carrying forward some sediment is fine; you just don’t want to carry too much.

---If you would like to offer your comments and/or suggestions, please send them to winemaster@finevinewines.com

NEW PRODUCTS

For those of you that want to try home wine making, but don't want to spend $175.00 to find out if you like it, I have 2 new kits. They are the Beginner's Red Wine Kit for $119.99 (#2000) and the Beginner's White Wine Kit for $109.99 (#2001). Both kits include all of the basic equipment you need to make your first batch of wine (30 bottles), including a VDV or GC kit of your choice. The difference between the complete kits and these kits are the bottles and bottle cleaning equipment, which I will offer as a Bottling Kit by the end of this month.

These kits give you the ability to try this hobby for as little as $4.00 per bottle plus shipping. If you enjoy wine making and the wine you make, you can always get the Bottling Kit later to make the process of cleaning and sanitizing your bottles much easier.

I have also added the Plastic Test Jar and 3 feet of tubing to the Complete Scratch Kit. I added the test jar as the 1.5 gallon plastic bucket is not deep enough for the hydrometer to work properly and the tubing to help you rack your wine.

In addition, I have greatly increased the number of products that I keep in stock. In fact, I am trying to keep at least one of each wine kit variety on hand at all times. If you have wanted to try a new variety, but did not want wait a month for it to arrive, now is the time.

I am still waiting on my new corks to arrive. Hopefully they will be in shortly.

FEBRUARY SPECIAL

This month we are offering a special discount on shipping costs. All orders placed during the month of February 2004, will receive the following shipping discount, depending on the size of the order:

  1. Orders over $25, but less than $100 will receive a 10% discount on shipping costs.
  2. Orders over $100 will receive a 20% discount on shipping costs.

In addition, for all of you lucky people that received a wine kit from us for Christmas, finevinewines.com will give you a $10 off coupon on your first order with us. In the order comments, just tell us that you received a kit from us for Christmas and who ordered the kit for you. We will do the rest.

Remember, as soon as you register, you get a coupon good for $5.00 off. This coupon can be used immediately and it can be used in conjuction with any other discounts.

For those of you in the FVW Growers Club, all monthly discounts are always in addition to your 5% permanent discount.

Happy Shopping!

SHIPPING QUOTES

I have added an option to the ordering system that allows you to request a shipping quote without placing an order. Upon receiving your request, I will send you an email with the estimated shipping costs. You can then decide if you want to place the order or not. You can learn more about our shipping policy on our Shipping Information Page.

CALL US!

If you have any questions about our products, our service and/or wine making, please call us. We are not Corporate America! We are here to serve you. I bring this up, because a number of my callers apologize for bothering me or using my toll-free line. You are definately not bothering me and I have a toll-free line so you WILL call me. By the way, my long distance rate is 4 cents a minute, so even if we talk for 1 full hour, it only costs me $2.40. If I can help you, it is worth every penny.

Sometimes, I am unable to answer the phone. If you get the voice mail, please leave your name, number, brief message and a best time to call. I will return your call as soon as I can. By the way, the best time to reach me is between 4-10pm CST.

If you don't want to call, just send me an email. I usually answer my email daily. In addition, your emails and/or calls do not have to relate to wine. I will discuss any topic you like, so please remember, I am your resource and I am here for you.

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PROGRAM

Starting June 1, 2003, we have created the FVW Growers Club. You can get all of the details on our website, but the bottom line is we want to buy your loyalty! Once you spend $1,000 with us, you get a 5% discount on everything you buy from us. Find out more on the website.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

We appreciate all of your comments, whether good or bad. To demonstrate our committment to outstanding customer service, I have created a web page with your feedback. As we receive emails that comment about our service, I will post them on this page.

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