WineMaker News Page

Updated December 21, 2023

Red Wine Headaches — Finally Some Answers?

tilted red wine glass with a glass mirror background
Photo by Charles A. Parker/Images Plus

Most folks in the wine community have heard of a friend, colleague, family member, or acquaintance complaining about a searing headache after drinking red wine, even after as little as a half glass. Many in society like to blame sulfites as the cause. But this myth was disproven many moons ago. Histamines were the next compound to be singled out . . . after all, they do cause allergic reactions. But a new suspect has risen to the top of the list . . . an antioxidant known as quercetin. 

In a new study put out by a group of scientists at UC-Davis, they surmise that quercetin, a flavanol compound, in the state found in red wine can inhibit a key enzyme that breaks down alcohol. This minor disruption has a cascading effect, with one of them being elevated levels of acetaldehyde. Side effects of increased acetaldehyde in the body are well known to those who have experienced such a reaction: Flushed skin, nausea, and subsequently a headache in susceptible people. This is just a hypothesis and testing in humans has yet to occur. www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-46203-y

Bordeaux Winemakers Push Harvest to the Nighttime

a woman sorting through grape bunches during a night harvest
Photo by Wes Hagen

While night harvests may be a common practice in many warmer climates such as California and Australia, it’s making strides into more traditional, Old World wine regions such as Bordeaux, France. The warmer climate is pushing acid levels lower in grapes and forces viticulturalists to harvest grapes earlier and earlier, during warmer harvest dates. The push towards nighttime harvests allows time for the grapes to cool off some from the daytime heat and acid levels to creep back up. This also means less dry ice and refrigeration requirements for the incoming grapes. This has already become standard practice for the white and rosé wines in the region and is finding its way into the red grape harvest as well. phys.org/news/2023-09-climate-bordeaux-winemakers-harvest-night.html

Traditional and Charmat Methods Produce the Same Wine

two glasses of sparkling wine sitting on an aged wooden table top
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

For sparkling winemakers there has long been an argument of what method produces superior wines; with traditional sparkling winemakers often trying to hold the upper hand over the charmat method. New findings concluded that neither produce a superior wine. It boils down to an age-old argument that bulk production sparkling is inferior in quality to small-bottle, traditional ways.

A new study out of the University of Rio Grande in Brazil pitted the two techniques in a head-to-head competition for dominance in terms of quality. Both were aged on lees and produced a product that displayed the same qualities and aging potential. To a small degree it confirms that aging volume doesn’t denote quality of finished wine. The study did find through physico-chemical tests that the levels of diethyl succinate (fresh apple aroma) were higher in the traditional method, but it was not distinguishable enough to cause a discrepancy in sensory tests . . . and that level did diminish in time. https://oeno-one.eu/article/view/7313

New Products

Aroma Sciences Heartwood™

tincture bottles of liquid oak on top of various oak staves

A new line of extracts from Aroma Sciences utilizes evaporative extraction technology that can instantly add oak character to any wine. The natural oak-barrel extracts are available in a wide range of offerings including both American and French oak barrel profiles in light, medium, dark, and extra dark toast levels. There are also a number of spirit-aged barrel extracts such as American whiskey, tequila, Caribbean rum, Brazilian cachaça, and French oak brandy. The extracts remove the risks inherent to the oak barrel aging process such as the risk for spoilage bacteria. It also allows precisely metered oak additions to your vino, ranging from nearly imperceptible to strong oak character in any style. www.aromasciences.com/

Vintage Crime

cover for vintage crime book with a ring of wine bottles, glasses, and grape clusters

The world of wine prides itself on its aura of respectability, but it has always had a murky side. Packed with vignettes, Vintage Crime brings to life famous enthusiasts and crafty con artists from ancient Rome to modern-day California. It also introduces us to lesser-known industry figures: The scrupulous merchants, honest growers, and cutting-edge scientists who have led the fight against fraudsters. Author Rebecca Gibb holds the sought-after distinction of Master of Wine, yet she writes in an engaging style that doesn’t require any prior wine knowledge, synthesizing popular wine histories for amateur sleuths and armchair sommeliers alike. www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520385931/vintage-crime

Spike Glycol Chiller

glycol unit from spike brewing on caster wheels

The new 1⁄2-horsepower Spike Glycol Chiller makes stabilizing and cooling your fermenter temperatures a breeze. Included, winemakers will find an integrated glycol drain port, quick- connect fittings for glycol lines, splash-proof lid, locking casters, and a glycol sight glass to check glycol volumes. The 9-gallon (34-L) reservoir provides ample cooling power for chilling. In total, winemakers can control up to four 30-gallon (115-L) fermenters at a time. Plus, it’s compatible with most manufacturer’s fermenters with the correct fittings. The recommended glycol ratio is 2:1. www.spikebrewing.com/products/spike-glycol-chiller

RJS Heritage Estate Wines

RJS Heritage Estates box

The new Heritage Estates wine kit brand from RJS Craft Winemaking offers light and easy-drinking wines that are designed with novice winemakers in mind and are ready to be drank in as little as four weeks. Each kit contains the ingredients needed to make 6 gallons (23 L) of your very own craft wine. The kit provides 1.66 gallons (6.3 L) of grape concentrate and the winemaker needs to provide the necessary equipment to ferment and bottle the wine. At the time of publishing, the line included 8 varietal-specific kits and 2 blends, although one of the blends was special order only. www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/heritage-estates

WineMaker Guide To Home Winemaking

cover image for the WineMaker Guide to Home Winemaking book with three wine glasses, a red, rosé, and white wine

This new book from the editors of WineMaker magazine is built to be a first-time winemaker’s companion, explaining the entire process from start to finish with helpful photography. Yet it has plenty to offer those who are more experienced as well, including advanced techniques for blending, testing, creating sparkling wines and fruit wines, and barrel aging. Inside the book you’ll find keys to better winemaking including: Maceration, fermentation, and blending; a variety of recipes; a deep dive on wine-related ingredients; and troubleshooting winemaking errors. The book covers winemaking with fresh grapes, juices, kits, concentrates, and country fruits. Pre-order to get a copy when it releases January 16 at: www.amazon.com/dp/0760385041

KegLand Saber Refractometer

a black refractometer from KegLand

A new refractometer with ATC (Auto Temperature Correction) functionality and triple scale means it can be used for brewing, winemaking, and distilling. Water-resistant casing means that brewers can dip the refractometer directly into the wort to obtain a sample. The Saber refractometer will operate when ambient temperature ranges from 50–86 °F (10–30 °C). Since your sample is just a few drops, the liquid will quickly adjust to the temperature of the refractometer, so the temperature of the sample is irrelevant. A manual calibration knob is secured with a lock nut. An LED light helps illuminate the sample to make the scale easier to read in low-light environments. Scale ranges from 1.000–1.130 SG (0–32 °Brix). Includes refractometer, pipette, carrying case, and USB charging cable. www.morewinemaking.com/category/refractometer.html

Grainfather GC2 Glycol Chiller

the G2 glycol chiller base unit from the Grainfather

A new 2-stage glycol chiller has been introduced by Grainfather. It is very similar to the current GC4 Glycol Chiller (4-stage) that was launched by Grainfather a few years ago, but only features ports for running glycol to two different fermenters, instead of four. The unit is much smaller, weighs less, and has a lower price point and weight ($899 | 49 lbs.) than the GC4 ($1,199 | 62 lbs.). Both the GC2 (new) and the GC4 feature wireless control capabilities, so users can chill their fermenting wines as low as 39 °F (4 °C). Both units are designed to sync seamlessly with the GF30 conical fermenter, or the Grainfather Glycol Chiller Adapter (GCA) kit, which allows users to hook up to almost any kind of fermenter on the market. https://grainfather.com/g-series/gc2/

Wine Raisins®

three varieties of wine raisins available for sale

Hand-harvested Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay wine grapes from quality vineyards throughout California are dehydrated through a patented process and packaged shelf-stable. The wine grape raisins can be added to a fermentation or aging wine that would benefit from a boost in tannin, natural sugars, color, or a fruitier impression. The goal is to improve the overall body and structure of a given wine. Available in small 8-oz. (227-g) packages, which are well-suited for 5-gallon (19-L) batch sizes, or 25-lb. (11.3-kg) bulk packaging for larger production needs. www.RayZyn.com/collections/the-wine-rayzyn-shop


GOpump box with the app to run it.

Released by the folks at GOfermentor, GOpump is intended for pumping wine or similar fluids (it is not designed to be used as a must pump). It can be used in pump mode where the delivery rate is automatically controlled at the user-set flowrate or in batch mode where a preset volume is delivered at a user-set flowrate. And finally there is a remote mode where the pump can be controlled by external device or app (Bluetooth or WiFi). A built-in totalizer based on magnetic flux sensing (no moving parts) provides an accurate estimate of total wine transferred. Controllable flow rate allows gentle or rapid transfer of wine. Flow rate is from 1 to 10 liters per minute (0.26 to 2.6 gallons per minute). It also has automatic shutdown on empty detection. http://gofermentor.com/gopump/

Upcoming Events

Logo for the Greater Kansas City Cellarmasters with a bunch of purple grapes
January 11, 2024

Entries for the 22nd Annual Kansas City Cellarmasters Wine Classic Competition will be accepted January 2–11 and an awards dinner and entry tasting will take place January 27. Open to all amateur winemakers, the cost to enter is $12 per entry and a separate label contest with an entry fee of $1 is also being held. There are separate divisions and judging that takes place between original source wines and wine kit wines. Learn more at www.cellarmasters.org.

March 15, 2024

Entry Deadline for the 2024 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. Enter your wines, meads, and ciders to compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in 50 categories awarded by a panel of experienced wine judges. You can gain international recognition for your skills and get valuable feedback on your wines from the competition’s judging panel. Entries must be received by March 15.  Join in the excitement at the awards dinner on Saturday, June 1 at the WineMaker Magazine Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. www.winemakermag.com/competition

2024 WineMaker Conference logo to be held May 30-June 2 in Virgina
May 30-June 2, 2024

Save The Date for our 15th annual WineMaker Conference, which will be held in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia. Regarded as the birthplace of American wine thanks to the first commercial vineyard planted in 1774 by Thomas Jefferson, the Monticello AVA is keeping that legacy alive with 40 wineries. Don’t miss dozens of winemaking and grape growing workshops, seminars, and special events all geared for home winemakers. https://winemakerconference.com