Friday, January 18, 2008

Preliminary Must Additions

When I checked on the pod this morning I noticed that the thermistor had come loose from the side of the tank – nothing I couldn't fix with a piece of duct tape. The temperature was reading 54°-55° F. Observed no evidence of fermentation.

After using the industrial potato masher supplied with the starter kit to do a punchdown (really just a mix to homogenize the must) I pulled a juice sample to take to the wine lab (Vinquiry) for analysis.

Then it was time for some must additions: tannins, enzyme and yeast extracts. I really don't want to stamp on the natural expression of the vineyard on this fruit so I added only small amounts of tannin, which binds with protein, color, and bitter phenolics that might be released by the seeds during the freeze-thaw cycle. I added 5.0 g/hL (2.0 grams) each of Vitanil AJ-11 (quebracho extract), Sublitan Vinif (grape skin extract) and Oenotan (pure oak tannin extract).

Then I added 2.0 g/100 kg (1.25 grams) of Lallzyme EX-V, an enzyme preparation that helps to release color from the skins early in the fermentation. When I first considered making wine from previously frozen fruit I felt that an enzyme would not provide any benefit. However after seeing how well the skins of these grapes hold up to freezing and thawing I decided enzyme might be a good idea after all. The tannins and enzymes came from my commercial winemaking stash – some day these might be included in the WinePod starter kit.

Finally I added the yeast extract preparations supplied with the starter kit: OptiRed and Booster Rouge, each at about 18 g/hL (8.0 grams). These preparations are selected for enhancing volume and softness on the palate.

All of these were mixed into the must with the potato masher. Then I set the cooling system to start gently heating the must prior to inoculation. The lower setpoint was 62° F and the upper limit for the time being was set at 72° F just in case a "native" ferment takes off at the permissive lower setpoint – I don't want the must to get rocking before I add the desired yeast strain.

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