Ironstone Merlot 2013

Date May 16, 2017 | Chuck | Merlot & Red Wine & USA

Extra dry, slight alcohol notes on the finish, slightly off balance
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, light cedar, smoke
Smell blackberry, dark cherry, alcohol
Food american
Sweetness extra dry
Price $17.25

Growers Honeycrisp Apple Cider

Date November 1, 2016 | Chuck | Cider

If you like sweet ciders, white zinfandel wine or coolers this is your cider.
Has more ingredients than any cider I've seen.
At a Glance
Taste green apple jolly rancher
Smell green apple jolly rancher
Food sandwiches
Sweetness sweet
Price $2.95
LCBO# 374546

Ernest Dry Cider

Date October 21, 2016 | Chuck | Cider

It's dry but certainly not extra dry.  Sugar is added so homebrewers would call this a 'Turbo Cider'
Honey is listed as an ingredient but isn't very noticeable as it ferments out very well.
At a Glance
Taste a tart golden delicious
Smell courtland, empire, light lemon
Food light lunch
Sweetness dry
Price $3.25
LCBO# 466292

Thornbury Cider

Date July 13, 2016 | Chuck | Cider

Drier than Brickworks and Pommies
Leaves a nice tart finish at the back corners of your mouth.
At a Glance
Taste mcintosh, empire, floral
Smell a tart golden delicious
Food salads
Sweetness off dry
Price $3.00
LCBO# 333583

Brickworks Ciderhouse Queen Street 501

Date July 8, 2016 | Chuck | Cider

A blend of 8 Ontario apples.  Tastes great but I'm not sure I believe the ingredient list of 100% apples.  C'mon...not even a stabilizer for an off-dry cider?  I won't believe it unless they list their process. 
At a Glance
Taste green apple, golden apple, light lemon
Smell green apple, golden apple, light lemon
Food salads
Sweetness medium sweet
Price $3.00
LCBO# 413807

Pommies Cider

Date July 7, 2016 | Chuck | Cider

Made from 100% ontario heritage apples, this cider is smooth and easy to drink
At a Glance
Taste golden apples, lemon
Smell golden apples, citrus, lemon
Food salads
Sweetness medium sweet
Price $3.10
LCBO# 453118

RJ Spagnols - La Batalla RQ 2016

Date April 16, 2016 | Chuck | Homebrew & Wine


Inside the box ($140 CDN):
  • bag of grape juice (16 liters - 4.23 gallons)
  • 1 bag of dried grape skins (9 oz)
  • 1.5 oz american heavy toast (7g per finished gallon) 
  • bentonite
  • potassium metabisulfite
  • potassium sorbate (not used)
  • chitosan (~50mL)
  • kieselsol (~10mL)
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118 - substituted)
About the Wine: 

Spainish Tempranillo, Grenache & Cabernet Sauvignon

"This ruby-colored blend of Spainish Tempranillo, Grenache & Cabernet Sauvignon reflects the brightly colored red wines enjoyed throughout this cheerful festival. Rich on the nose and palate, it features black currant, raspberry, sweet spices and dried fruit."  From the RJ Spagnols RQ2016 Handout



Pitch Date: April 16, 2016

  • 6 gallons
  • OG: 1.094
  • Ambient temperature: 67.5 F
Changes made:
  • Fermented in my 8.5 gallon stainless steel brew kettle with a bazooka screen and placed on lid.
  • Added campden to the 7 liters of water added.
  • Added 1 tsp of wine tannin powder
  • Yeast #1: 1 rehydrated packet of Lalvin Bourgovin RC-212
  • Yeast #2: 1/2 non-rehydrated packet of Lalvin BM 4x4
  • Yeast #3: 1/2 non-rehydrated packet of Lalvin EC-1118
48 hours post pitch
  • Wine temperature 2 days post pitch: 78.5 F  (+11.0 F)
  • 1 tsp wyeast beer/wine nutrient for a double dose
  • 1/2 tsp DAP for a full dose
  • Did not detect much (if any) Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) this time around.  I wonder if the extra oxygen is helping the fermentation since the pot lid doesn't seal (unlike a carboy under airlock)
Day 7
  • SG: 0.095
  • Racked to a 6 gal carboy a on day 10
Day 14 - April 30, 2016
  • Rack to 6 gallon carboy
  • -Degas-
  • Add potassium metabisulfite package
  • -Stir-
  • Add kieselsol
  • -Stir 1 minute-
  • Add chitosan
  • -Stir & Airlock-
Bulk Aging Timeline

4 Months - Aug 15, 2016 - Add 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite to 5 gallon carboy.

8 Months - Dec 22, 2016 - Add 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite & bottled.  Nothing added.  Solid oak and tannins.


Final Gravity Reading

0.994 SG

1 Year Tasting Notes
April 15, 2017

Coming Soon!



Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres 2011

Date January 25, 2016 | Chuck | Bordeaux & France & Red Wine

Drink in 1-2 yrs.  Structured but needs time.  Slight peppercorn on the finish.  Full body and extra dry.
Blend of: Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre
At a Glance
Taste blueberry, mulberry, vanilla
Smell mulberry, oak, black tea
Food pot roast
Sweetness extra dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 177485

Sandbanks Shoreline White 2013

Date January 6, 2016 | Chuck | Canada & Chardonnay & Pinot Grigio & White Blend

Not a bad wine overall but could use a little more structure for the price.  Seems flat and uninteresting which could be attributed to the fact that it is a blended wine.
At a Glance
Taste lemon, mineral, floral
Smell lemon, lime, peach
Food sipper
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 177485

Sandbanks Cabernet Franc 2014

Date December 28, 2015 | Chuck | Cabernet Franc & Canada & Red Wine

Light-medium body, very low tannins, medium acidity.  Very reminiscent of pinot noir.  No vegetative notes from the franc.  
At a Glance
Taste strawberry, raspberry, light oak vanilla
Smell raspberry, strawberry, light oak vanilla
Food pot roast
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 177485

Farnese Sangiovese IGT 2014

Date December 14, 2015 | Chuck | Italy & Red Wine & Sangiovese

The house red lives. I've been recommending this wine for 5 years now and will continue to do so. This is the bottle that I always keep stock of because not only is it an amazing wine for $7.95 but it's a crowd pleaser that's very versatile.
This also comes in a large format bottle (1.5L)
Alcohol/Vol: 12.5%
At a Glance
Taste black cherry, tobacco, leather
Smell black cherry, tobacco, oak
Food lasagna
Sweetness dry
Price $7.95
LCBO# 512327

Château Saint-Roch Chimères 2013

Date November 26, 2015 | Chuck | France & Red Blend & Red Wine

This wine will benefit from an hour in the decanter.  I find most french wines do.  This wine scored a 93 but it's a 3.5 on our scale since it JUST snuck in under our $20 limit.  A nice bottle but we can do a bit better for the price.
60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Carignan
At a Glance
Taste black cherry, mulberry, spice
Smell black cherry, plum, medium french oak
Food pot roast
Sweetness dry
Price $19.95
LCBO# 119354

RJ Spagnols Winery Series Super Tuscan 2015

Date November 21, 2015 | Chuck | Homebrew & Wine

Inside the box ($150 CDN):
  • bag of grape juice (16 litres)
  • 2 crushed grape pack (2 litres total)
  • 3.4 oz medium toast oak chips (16g/gallon) 
  • (RJS says 1 bag is american and the other french)
  • bentonite (30 grams)
  • potassium metabisulfite (4.8 grams)
  • 2x potassium sorbate (not used)
  • pectinase (1.5 grams)
  • chitosan (~50mL)
  • kieselsol (~10mL)
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118 - substituted BM 4x4)


Next time I'll ferment in a bucket with the skins/oak chips in a muslin bag.  Or posibly use two carboys and combine the results into a single topped up 5 gallon (19L) carboy.


Pitch Date: November 21, 2015

Lalvin BM 4x4

  • 6 gallons
  • OG: 1.111 - measured after stirring in grape pack
  • Added 1 tsp wyeast beer/wine nutrient for a double dose
  • Added 2 tsp powdered wine tannin (made from chestnut tree).
Day 2 (48h post pitch)
  • Light Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
  • Added 1/2 tsp wyeast beer/wine nutrient for a single dose
  • 1/4 tsp DAP for a half dose
Day 3
  • Light Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
  • Added 1/4 tsp wyeast beer/wine nutrient for a quarter dose
  • 1/8 tsp DAP for a quarter dose
Day 4
  • Light Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
  • Added 1/4 tsp wyeast beer/wine nutrient for a quarter dose
  • 1/8 tsp DAP for a quarter dose (was really -just- over 1/8th tsp)

No further Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) present

Day 18
Added pectinase, kieselsol, chitosan into the primary fermenter.  Unorthodox but the final step will be the last before a 6-9 month bulk age.
Day 22

Racked, degassed (45 mins, drill stir), kmeta added.  

Rack 3 gallons to bulk age (carboy topped is around 3.5).  

Rack 1 gallon to a jug with 6g med french cubes and 6g french light(untoasted) cubes.

Commence long term bulk aging. 

Tasting Notes (at 3 week racking):

-Aroma: sour cherry, plum, leather

-Taste: plum, med oak, black cherry

Full body, med to med+ tannins.  Quite promising.


Bulk Aging Timeline

6 Months - Add 1/8 tsp potassium metabisulfite to 3 gallon carboy.

12 Months - Add 1/8 tsp potassium metabisulfite & bottled.  Nothing added.


Final Gravity Reading

0.993 SG


15 Month Tasting Notes
March 1 2017


Coming Soon!

Tasting Notes:

-Aroma: ___

-Taste: ___



Château Godard Bellevue 2011

Date November 18, 2015 | Chuck | Bordeaux & France & Red Wine

Rich and concentrated dark berry flavours with a very dry and oak/spice finish.  I'd suggest holding this bottle for a year or two before opening late 2016 or 2017.
Right bank.  50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, plum, spice
Smell plum, spice, oak
Food cheese
Sweetness extra dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 426049

Winexpert Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel 2015

Date October 24, 2015 | Chuck | Homebrew & Wine

I'll be reviewing and comparing three different Lalvin yeasts using this kit.  The goal is to compare the taste and aromatic differences between Lalvin BM 4x4 vs RC-212 vs EC-1118.  Fermentation Temperature: 70F


Inside the box ($140 CDN):
  • bag of grape juice (16 litres)
  • crushed grape pack (2 litres)
  • oak cubes (french medium - 60 grams)
  • bentonite (15 grams)
  • potassium metabisulfite (4 grams)
  • potassium sorbate (5.5 grams - not used)
  • chitosan (150mL x2)
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118)


Pitch Date: October 24, 2015

Lalvin BM 4x4

Lalvin RC-212

Lalvin EC-1118

  • 4.5 gallons
  • OG: 1.084 - likely higher from grape pack
  • .75 gallons
  • .75 gallons
Day 2
  • Added 1/2 tsp wyeast beer nutrient.  Full Dose
  • Light Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
  • Added 1/8 tsp wyeast beer nutrient
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
  • Added 1/8 tsp wyeast beer nutrient
  • Light Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
Day 3
  • Added 1 tsp wyeast beer nutrient.  Double Dose
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
 -  -
Day 4
  • Added 1/4 tsp wyeast beer nutrient. (Half Dose)
  • Reduced Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected
  •  Most CO2 by far, wine is very fizzy compared to the other 2 yeasts.
Day 8
Move to Secondary & Taste Test


  • blueberry
  • blackberry
  • plum jam


  • dark plum
  • ripe dark berries
  • light sulfur (should off gas)
  • light heat


  • #1 pick



  • dark cherry
  • blueberry


  • non-descript dark red berry
  • light sulfur (should off gas)


  • #2 pick
  • thinner body than BM 4x4
  • would use in a pinot noir or lighter red wine


  • dark cherry
  • mild blackberry


  • mild strawberry
  • red berries




  • #3 pick
  • least aromatic
  • lightest body
Day 14
Degas / Sulphite / Fine
Day 21
  • Bottle an unoaked sample 
  • Rack to 3 gallon carboy
  • add 35g oak cubes
  • add 1/8 tsp k-meta
  •  Bottle an unoaked sample
  •  Bottle an unoaked sample


oak the leftover gallon with 10g medium french oak cubes


This was racked off the oak after 3 weeks into a fresh 3g carboy for the rest of the bulk age.  (Should have left them in)


combine leftover rc-212 with the ec-1118.  
(should be about a gallon) 


French Oak Cubes (rate 10g/gallon):

2 grams light
3 grams medium
5 grams heavy
Tasting Notes for the un-oaked bottles 1 month after bottling
This yeast certainly takes over and imposes it's own flabour profile.  Currently overwhelming and I wouldn't use it again.

Preferred the rc-212 & ec-1118 blend

Bulk Aging Timeline

4 Months - Feb 24, 2016 - Add 1/8 tsp kmeta to 3 gallon carboy.

7 Months - May 24, 2016 - Add 1/8 tsp kmeta to 3 gallon carboy.

8 Months - June 24, 2016 - Bottled and added 1/8 tsp kmeta. (needed the carboy, should have really bottled at last addition)

12 Months - Oct 24, 2016 - Drink.

Tasting Notes from the BM4x4:

-Aroma: berry, oak

-Taste: berry, cherry, concentrate juice

Personal Rating: 2/5

Château de Lisennes Cuvée Tradition 2010

Date October 21, 2015 | Chuck | Bordeaux & France & Red Wine

Decant the bottle or pour a glass and let it breathe for 30 minutes. Meduim+ body with an extra dry finish. Refined tannins and oak. Quite good and very French!
Right bank.  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
At a Glance
Taste red berry, french oak, raspberry
Smell bright cherry, pomegranate, french oak
Food hard cheese
Sweetness extra dry
Price $16.95
LCBO# 426171

Beronia Tempranillo Rioja 2012

Date October 14, 2015 | Chuck | Red Wine & Spain & Tempranillo

I can say with confidence that Spain is going to be 2016's go-to for value wines.  It's not perfect in terms of acidity and finesse but this bottle has some structure and oak to it and is a great value for $13.  Try a spanish red already!

Alcohol/Vol 14%
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, cherry, oak
Smell dark berry fruit, cedar, spice
Food stew, game
Sweetness extra dry
Price $12.95
LCBO# 243055


Ciao Sangiovese

Date October 7, 2015 | Chuck | Italy & Red Wine & Sangiovese

Medium-light body with a red fruit and red berry profile.  Very low oak, high acid, low tannin.

Alcohol/Vol 13% in a 1000 mL carton
At a Glance
Taste young cherry, raspberry, light oak
Smell strawberry, cherry
Food cheese
Sweetness dry
Price $12.05
LCBO# 29090


Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo 2012

Date September 21, 2015 | Chuck | Red Wine & Spain & Tempranillo

It's big, spanish, has gripping tannins and notes of medium-heavy toasted oak.  My new benchmark Tempranillo.  Alcohol/Vol 15%.  100% Tempranillo.
Update: Discontinued and reduced in price from $16.95 -> $13.95 -> $7.60 (so basically a sane non-Canadian price)
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, earth, toasted oak
Smell mulberry, blueberry, grape skins
Food stew, game
Sweetness extra dry
Price $13.95
LCBO# 372342


Update: 6 Months Later (2016-03):

Taste: cassis, black tea, plum

Smell: mulberry, blackberry, blueberry, cedar, tobacco




Copper Moon Riesling

Date September 10, 2015 | Chuck | Canada & Riesling & White Wine

I gave one of the less expensive rieslings a shot today and can say you really need to spend a few more bucks to get a proper bottle of this varietal (in Ontario anyways).  I found this wine to be slightly unbalanced and overly tart with a finish that doesn't make you reach for the glass.  Would be ok ice cold on a hot day.
Alcohol/Vol 11.5%
At a Glance
Taste honeydew, pear, floral
Smell peach, citrus, floral
Food appetizers
Sweetness off dry
Price $9.95
LCBO# 224295


LeRoisier Reserve Merlot

Date September 3, 2015 | Chuck | Canada & France & Merlot & Red Wine

This non-vintage, multi-country merlot isn't anything to write home about, although guests did enjoy it.  It's not something I would purchase again but I would drink it over a mass-produced light lager.
Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste cherry, vanilla, plum
Smell plum, vanilla, berry
Food american
Sweetness dry
Price $13.95
LCBO# n/a


Winexpert World Vineyard Washington Riesling 2015

Date August 13, 2015 | Chuck | Homebrew & Wine

Since my first kit of RJ Spagnols Aglianico 2015 tastes very good at 2 months (should be excellent with age), I figure it's time to start on a white wine.  I've chosen an off-dry Riesling with juice coming from Washington, USA.  Of course I'll be tweaking the kit.  It's what I do (or can't not do)


Inside the box ($75 CDN):
  • bag of grape juice (10 litres)
  • f-pack (juice concentrate to sweeten - 1 litre)
  • bentonite (10 grams)
  • potassium metabisulfite (4 grams)
  • potassium sorbate (5.5 grams)
  • isinglass (45 mL / 1.5 oz)
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118)
  • instructions


This will be a split batch to try two different yeasts.  One fermenter will receive Lalvin ICV D-47 and the other Lalvin QA23.  Each will receive a 1/2 tsp dose of Wyeast yeast nutrient blend on day 1 and a 1/2 tsp dose on day 3.  I will try and ferment these around 65F.  Since there is an F-Pack (this wine is off-dry) I cannot skip the potassium sorbate addition as I do with wine that is fermented dry.


Pitch Date: August 15, 2015

Lalvin ICV D-47

Lalvin QA23

  • OG: 1.097
  • Activity at 15 hours (zero foam / krausen)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) detected on day 4.  Added 1/2 tsp nutrient and swirled carboy well.  Gone in 1.5 days after that.
  • Some foam on day 6


  • OG: 1.097
  • Activity at 8 hours (zero foam / krausen)
  • Added 1/4 tsp nutrient as routine.
Day 11
  • Gravity: 1.08 (medium sweet - wouldn't be upset if it hovered around here)
  • Colour: medium gold hay.  cloudy like milk.
  • Aroma: honey, honeydew, light mineral
  • Taste: very much like aroma with some pear.  slight syrup but not bad at all
  • Gravity: 0.992 (extra dry - will sorbate and f-pack)
  • Colour: pale straw, slight greenish tinge.  half as cloudy as D-47.
  • Aroma: light grapefruit, light mineral
  • Taste: tart, lemon, orange zest, thinner than D-47


Week 2
  • Gravity: 1.03 (off dry - preferred over 1.08)
  • Will measure again when stabilizing since it's already extra dry.
Week 3
  • Final Gravity: 1.00 (off dry)
  • Degassed
  • Topped up with purchased off dry riesling
  • Added 2 grams of K-Meta
  • Already preferred over the purchased top off wine
  • Added 1/2 isinglass package
  • Final Gravity: 0.992 (extra dry, before f-pack - after approx 1.005)
  • Degassed
  • Topped up with medium sweet riesling
  • Added 2 grams of K-Meta
  • Added 2.75 grams K-Sorbate
  • Added 1/2 of the f-pack
  • Added 1/2 isinglass package
Bottled on Week 7
(includes a 9 day cold stabilization - some crystals dropped out)
 Tasting Notes
( 3 months old - 1 month of that spent bottled)
  • --coming soon--

The aroma on this version is much better than the flavours.  While it has a medium body the finish was a touch warm even though ferm temps stayed below 70.  Try for 65F or less next time.  I perfer the wine D47 made. 

Aroma: pineapple, lemon, white peach

Taste: mild peach, mild orange

Food: pork cutlets, shrimp

Sweetness: dry to off-dry

What I'd pay per bottle: $8


Oak Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Date August 7, 2015 | Chuck | Cabernet Sauvignon & Canada & Red Wine & USA

Smooth and easy drinking.  Has some structure, slightly more than it price range peers.  Found at the wine rack store. 
Juice from California and Canada.  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, spice, cherry
Smell blueberry, blackberry, spice
Food american
Sweetness off dry
Price $12.00
LCBO# n/a


Trius Rosé 2012

Date July 20, 2015 | Chuck | Canada & Rosé & White Wine

This is a dry rose.  Not a cavity generating white zinfandel.
Made using juice from: Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol/Vol 12.1%
At a Glance
Taste raspberry, strawberry, cherry
Smell strawberry, raspberry, citrus
Food salads, vegetables
Sweetness dry
Price $15.95
LCBO# 341743


Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti 2011

Date June 30, 2015 | Chuck | Chianti & Italy & Red Wine

This bottle is marked DOCG and is a well rounded Italian Chianti.  It goes well with any Italian food (especially with red sauce).  Drinks best on the first day, do-able on the second.
Alcohol/Vol 12.5%
At a Glance
Taste dried fruit, oak, black cherry
Smell black cherry, tobacco, leather
Food lasagna
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 545319


Megalomaniac Homegrown Riesling VQA 2013

Date June 18, 2015 | Chuck | Canada & Riesling & White Wine

I had no idea this was going to be a sweet riesling but I enjoyed it for a glass and a half regardless.  It was liked by non wine lovers as well.  I would sip this on its own ice cold.  Keeps pretty well for 2 days in the fridge.
Alcohol/Vol 10.5%
At a Glance
Taste sweet white grape, pear, floral
Smell pear, mineral, sweet syrup
Food chinese
Sweetness sweet
Price $13.95
LCBO# 183061


RJ Spagnols Aglianico 2015

Date June 8, 2015 | Chuck | Homebrew & Wine

We're all about good wine for a great price here, so what better way is there to get the price of wine down than to make your own?  I visited my local brew-your-own wine shop and chose one of their premium boxed kits.


Inside the box ($140 CDN):
  • bag of grape juice (16 litres)
  • assorted additives & stabilizers
  • oak chips (3.5 oz medium toast french)
  • dried grape skins (125g)
  • yeast (Lalvin EC-1118)
  • instructions


What makes this kit a premium kit besides the price?  The fact that you get more grape juice and therefore need to add less water to reach your target volume.  There are other factors such as varietal, grape skins, oak chips etc... but I believe the type of concentrate plays a big factor.  You'll need some equiptment listed in the instructions but it's fairly inexpensive and lasts decades if treated properly.  If you're not looking to put in the elbow grease, the brew-it-yourself shops can do it for you (for a small fee) and then you come back in about 2 months to bottle it up and take it home.


As a 3rd year beer homebrewer (all-grain) I figure that the manufacturer of this kit wants to make it easy for the masses to produce palatable wine, but since I can never leave well enough alone, I've made the following (warranty breaking) tweaks to my kit:


Alteration #1: Replace the provided yeast with one that's designed only for red wines (Lalvin RC-212 Bourgovin) and instead of sprinkling the yeast on the must (grape juice) I re-hydrated it in 95F water for 15 minutes.  This allows the yeast to wake up in a mild environment and not be shocked by diving into sugary juice while dry and thereby killing off a percentage of cells.  Substituting yeast is a huge change and can really make or break your wine.  Yeast plays a huge factor in fermentation and thus your end result.  Extra 3/4 tsp nutrient added on day 3.


Alteration #2: You're supposed to add water so your kit reaches 6 US gallons (23L).  I added less, so the kit is now 5.5 US gallons (20.8L).  This will make a stronger and fuller overall wine.  My specific gravity (SG) reading: 1.097


Alteration #3: When I pitched the yeast, I also added 3/4 tsp of Wyeast Nutrient Blend.  This yeast is a bit weaker than the monster that is EC-1118 so this should help it out.  The airlock was ripping in under 20 hours so I'm pleased with the minimal lag time.


Alteration #4: The kit says to ferment the wine in primary for 2 weeks.  I'm probably going to sample it at 3 and likely leave it for 4.  I like oak and tannins.  These will both fade with age so a little more is better at this stage.


Alteration #5: There's a good chance I'll bulk condition this wine in secondary for more than the recommended 1 month.  Target 4 months. 


Pro-Tip: Manage your fermentation temperature based on the advice of the yeast strain's manufacturer.  The yeast I used has a range of 68F-86F.  Ambient temperature: 67F.  Wine temperature: 74F on day 2 (high krausen for homebrewers).  Fermentation being an exothermic process raised the temperature +7F.  The temperature will calm down around day 4 so you may need to keep the carboy in a warmer area of the house.



This is what you'll end up with 1 day after assembly: 



 Watch on YouTube 


Pitch Date: June 7, 2015

3 Days Old:

  • Add 3/4 tsp yeast nutrient (added to boiled water first).


1 Month Old: 

  • OG 1.097 -> 0.998 SG.  
  • Tastes very rich.  
  • Glad I used the RC-212, diluted less and left it on the oak and skins an extra two weeks.  
  • Rack wine to brew kettle.
  • Add potassium sulphite (skip potassium sorbate)
  • Degas it with a whip (this took almost 40 minutes with a drill mounted whip.  Had to use a fast drill to get the co2 to foam out)
  • Mix in clearing agents
  • Rack to smaller 5 US Gal (19L) carboy [remember this kit is supposed to make 6 US Gal, but I made 5.5 and you lose wine to yeast, skins and oak]. 
  • Top off to neck of carboy with similar wine (I used a whole 750mL bottle)


2 Months Old: 

  • SG 0.998 -> 0.996 FG.  13.2% ABV
  • Colour: Deep rich purple.  No legs
  • Aroma: Cherry (youngish), bluberry, mild oak/vanilla
  • Taste: Extra dry.  Aroma better than taste.  Full bodied.  Very mild heat.  Good lingering grippy tannins.  Mildly tangy finish.
  • Very good potential.  Interested in how it ages.  Wouldn't guess it was homemade.
  • An extra oz of 50/50 medium/heavy oak cubes in secondary wouldn't be a bad thing.
  • No detectable co2 in suspension (degassing successful)


2.5 Months Old: 

  • Begin cold stabilization for 2 weeks in fridge


3 Months Old: 

  • Add 1/4 tsp dissolved potassium meta 
  • Rack to bottling bucket
  • Test for residual co2 and degas if needed
  • Bottle


6 Months Old: 

  • First taste test


Thoughts & Notes for next time:

  • Primary for 2 weeks (instead for 4 to help avoid any excess grape skin breakdown)
  • Chips in primary are important for reds.
  • Oak for 2-3 months in topped secondary if needed.  Suspend a weighted mesh bag of cubes.
  • Skip fining agents for reds and just cold stabilize for 2 weeks.
  • Chips release their oak essense in 4-5 days fully by 7.  Add 1oz per week, stir and taste.
  • Cubes are better for bulk aging.  Remember this is the second oak addition start slow (1-2oz per 6gal)
  • I would make this to a full 6Gal (23L) next time or 5.75gal depending on must.
  • Nutrients on Day 2 (1 tsp - full dose) and day 4 (3/4 tsp)


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