Articles

Create Your Own Great Labels

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Labels are an extension of your personality; they mirror the winemaker’s soul. The wine in the bottle is the culmination of months, sometimes years of effort. Labeling your wine can further express your effort and pride. Your individual taste and purpose, along with a few key guidelines, are the essential factors in designing a label.

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Flavors That Make Cabernet Great

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Judging is highly subjective, and there are as many methods of evaluating wines as there are tasters. That’s a good thing. If wines could be rated objectively, we’d all be buying Microsoft Cabernet. The following is my own approach to evaluating Cabernet at Kathryn Kennedy Winery in Saratoga, Calif., where I have been winemaker since

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Mead: Nectar of the Gods

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Is there a beverage that conjures up more images than mead? Whether you associate it with Druids, pre-Roman civilizations of central Europe, Vikings and Teutonic raiders, Celts ancient or modern, it is impossible to deny the hold that mead has always had on the imagination of Western civilization. It probably was mead that Homer and

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Sparkling Wine, Step-by-Step

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Ah, another summer season come and gone. The family thought your two-year old Chardonnay was great at cousin Bob’s wedding dinner, and the after-dinner crowd at the late summer supper on the deck loved your port-style Barbera. In fact they were still smacking their lips long after the dessert dishes were cleared away and demanded

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The Sweet Rewards of Dessert Wines

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Classic dessert wines are wonderful, complex, and delicious beverages. The range of dessert wines is considerable and growing. With today’s high-quality kits, you can make terrific dessert wine at home and, with a little tweaking, give the finished product a unique touch. Dessert wines don’t always have a great reputation in popular wine culture, where

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Troubleshoot a Stuck Fermentation

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It’s hard to dispute that winemaking is an art. And it’s no surprise that winemakers sometimes act like artists. Now imagine, if you will, a room full of artists who meet to


Build Your Own Crusher

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Plans to build your own grape crusher.

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Growing Grapes in Cold Climates

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The availability of grape and fruit concentrates makes the home production of fine wines possible no matter where you live. But for some of us, the hours spent in the vineyard, orchard,


Hot Rhônes: Syrah & Carignan

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No group of grape varieties has generated as much enthusiasm among winemakers recently as Rhône varieties. So great is the demand for them that interested wineries scramble to find the best vineyard sites and then must guard them closely. Home winemakers have always had a tough time finding high-quality fruit and with Rhône varieties, the

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Juicy Secrets

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Commercial wineries spend tens of thousands of dollars on all kinds of fancy equipment. Can a home winemaker really expect to create the same type of high-quality wines the pros can without spending a bundle? The answer is absolutely yes. All that fancy stainless steel and those pumps and motors are aimed at moving tons

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Making Seyval Blanc: Tips from the Pros

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Bill Hopkins followed a path taken by many American winemakers. A dairy farmer who saw his business fading in the 1970s — at the same time the wine industry was taking off — he sold off the herd and replanted his pastures to vineyards. Twenty years later he is the proprietor of a small, award-winning

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More Practical Wine Terms

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Hydrometer: An inexpensive and widely available analytical device that measures the specific gravity (relative density) of a solution. Very useful to measure the amount of sugar (in Balling or degrees Brix) in a juice or wine. Because density depends on temperature, a thermometer reading of the solution being tested is critical for accurate results. Hydrometers

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Take Control of Must Temperature–And Reap the Benefits

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Yeast, like most living things, have a climate that they prefer. Just as people like warm, sunny weather, yeast, too, like their atmosphere temperate. When things get cold, around 40 °F (4


Bottling, Start to Finish

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The sages of winemaking uniformly counsel patience. Yet what could be more frustrating than, after patiently stomping, crushing, adjusting, fermenting, and racking, to be told to wait? But many of wine’s great


Making Riesling: Tips from the Pros

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Winemaker Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda, California goes back to his early roots by offering his thoughts on making Riesling. Back in 1973, he and his wife made their very


Practical Wine Terms

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Antioxidant: Compound that retards oxidation and slows its effects in wine (browning, sherry-like aromas). Sulfur dioxide, SO2, is the most widely used winemaking antioxidant. It also serves as an antimicrobial agent. Carboy: A glass or plastic container that looks like an office water-cooler bottle or a large jug. Carboys usually come in five-gallon volumes and

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Preventing Off-Flavors

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Sometimes things go wrong, and the result is off-flavors. But most wine defects are easily prevented with good sanitation and a few simple winemaking techniques.


Sangiovese: Varietal Focus

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Literally spoken, creating Chianti in the United States is not possible. Chianti is a style of wine that can only be derived from specific grapes grown in a specific area (in Chianti in Tuscany, Italy) and vinified under a strict set of laws. However, the primary grape used to make Chianti, Sangiovese, is a delicate

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There’s More to Wine Than Just Grapes

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It seems as though when we think of wine, we think of grapes. Walk into your local wine shop, and you’ll find the racks are filled with dozens of wines produced from Pinot noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet, and other notable grapes. But what about wines made from other fruits? Since the development of winemaking as a

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Wine Tasting Made Easy

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You un-bung one of your barrels, thief a little wine out into your glass, and bring it up to your nose for a sniff and a taste. Immediately a little voice in the back of your mind (speaking with a nasally Frenchified accent, to be sure) pipes up: “Excuse moi, garçon, but you can’t possibly

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