Now that the Cellar Craft Sterling California Chardonnay has been bottled and put to bed (well, those few bottles that manage to escape my husbands’ clutches), I can finally move onto another wine ingredient kit! I’m going for a red this time, and actually to be a little more specific, I’m going for a red dessert wine. I ended up purchasing the Cellar Craft Specialty Black Current Dessert wine ingredient kit from E. C. Kraus.
Right off the bat, I thought “whoa, this is going to be really different”. The only wines I’ve made so far have been table wines, so making a dessert wine is new to me for the simple fact that it’s a sweeter wine with higher alcohol, and also for the fact that the instructions that came with the wine ingredient kit are a bit different than they have been for the table wines I’ve made so far.
First big difference I noticed for this Black Currant dessert wine is the preparation of the wine yeasts. For all the other wine kits, I could just sprinkle the dry yeast right on top of the juice/must and that was it. For this dessert wine, I had to take a little bit of the juice plus some hot water and create a sort of “fermentation juice solution” with those liquids and the yeasts prior to adding to the wine. I did as instructed and mixed the hot water and juice, then added the yeasts on top and left to sit for 20 minutes.
The instructions did not say to stir the yeasts or anything, so I just let it sit there. Turns out that the 20 minutes was a perfect amount of time for the yeasts to fall into the solution on their own and get cracking on making that alcohol!
One thing I already did “wrong” at least as far as this wine ingredient kit goes is that I added the juice to the fermenter before I added the bentonite. I was supposed to prepare the bentonite in the bottom of the fermenter first, but since I had already opened the bag of juice for the yeast preparation I just went ahead and poured it all in before the bentonite step. The bag is very heavy (at least by my standards) and I was concerned I’d spill the juice if I left it opened while I tended to the bentonite, so in the carboy it went.
What I did instead was I prepared the bentonite with the hot water exactly as the instructions for this wine ingredient kit said except I did it all in a clean, sterilized bowl and then added it to the juice that was in the carboy after it was well mixed. I’m hoping that this will still work out OK. There was no bentonite left in the bowl when I was done, so it still got in there!
Once the bentonite was added and mixed into the juice, I checked the starting specific gravity with my wine hydrometer, then added the oak chips packet and mixed. Finally, the prepared yeast fermentation juice solution was added and mixed into the juice, covered, and fingers crossed for fermentation to actually get started! So far, everything is going great with this wine ingredient kit.
My name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad – and the ugly.