Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wine Clarification -- Filtration

Mini-Jet Filter SystemThe final method of wine clarification for home winemaking that we will discuss is filtration.

To filter or not to filter is a frequent debate among wine makers. Some believe that when wine is filtered that the process removes flavor and color from the wine and the fact is that high quality wines are most often not filtered and that wines will maintain a higher level of quality if they are fined and not filtered.

Lower quality wines are usually produced with the intention of bringing them to market quickly and the purchaser of this type of wine does not like sediment deposits in their wine. Purchasers of high quality wines realize that the wines which have been aged for a significant length of time will throw sediment.

When wine making and when the intention is to filter your wine, this process is typically done after the wine has been stabilized and has been aged. Filtration is the immediate prelude to bottling.

BlueStem Winery is a full-service wine making equipment, winemaking supplies and ingredients retailer located in Parkersburg, Iowa. Our inventory also includes homebrewing supplies, home brew ingredients and homebrew equipment. We also stock a very large inventory of WinExpert wine kits and also an inventory of Cellar Craft kits plus our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits known as BlueStems Best.

We would encourage you to visit us on our website for your next WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine kits or any of the brewing supplies you may need. We promise knowledgeable advice, friendly service and prompt delivery of any homebrew supplies, beer brewing equipment or any ingredients, supplies, or wine kits you need for making wine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Crossing Paths of Holger Larsen Holm and the H.M.S. Wizard

HMS Wizard Magic Circle Mild AleIt is Christmas Eve 2007 and it was a little over 62 years ago that the paths of my father, Holger Larsen Holm and that of the British destroyer H.M.S. Wizard crossed paths. Our business is making wine and selling winemaking supplies and homebrewing supplies so my blogs just have to be about beer brewing ingredients or wine making equipment but this blog is about a not so long ago war, heroes and eventually, beer.

Holger Larsen Holm was born in October 1916 to Peter Holm and Karoline Swensen Holm. Peter and Karoline immigrated to Iowa from Denmark in the early part of the 20th Century and purchased an 80 acre farm in northeast Grundy County, Iowa about 3 miles southwest of New Hartford. Peter and Karoline were always known as Bestefa and Bestamor to me (Grandpa and Grandma in Dane). There children were Martin, Mary, Carl, Peter, Eva and my father, Holger.

In early 1941 my father enlisted in the United States Army. He traveled to Fort Des Moines for his physical and thought he would be home for a little while waiting to ship out. Instead, with no chance to say good-bye he was placed on a troop train and was on his way to San Francisco where he boarded the S.S. Republic and sailed for the Philippine Islands.

Holger (aka Dad) took his basic training in the Philippines and was assigned to Battery C (Chicago) of the 60th Coast Artillery and was duty stationed on Morrison Hill (hence the name of one of our beer brewing ingredients kits known as Morrison Hill Pale Ale) on Corregidor Island. It was an island paradise until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7 (Dad always said it was December 8 where he was at!), 1941. The war came quickly to the Philippines and to Corregidor with the Bataan Peninsula surrendering in early April 1942 and Corregidor surrendering in early May. Dad spent time in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps at Cabanatuan, Bilibid and Palawan in the Philippines and in 1944 was put aboard the Hell Ship Canadian Inventor and sailed for Mogi, Japan. From there Dad was sent to Nagoya Camp No. 3 at Funatsu, Japan where he spent the remainder of the war as a slave laborer at a Japanese zinc mine.

With the war's end in August of 1945 the camp was liberated and the prisoners were taken by train to Nagoya harbor on the east coast of Japan. After a brief physical the now ex-prisoners (about half Americans and the other half British and Australians) were issued new clothing, placed aboard a U.S. Navy barge and taken out into Nagoya harbor where Dad's path crossed with that of the H.M.S. Wizard.

The Wizard had been charged with transporting the ex-prisoners to Tokyo. The ex-P.O.W.'s were taken aboard the Wizard and were immediately told to strip and throw their new clothes into the harbor. Lice! Dad was very unhappy with losing his new clothes. After delousing the men were issued a new set of clothes (extra clothing given to them by the crew of the Wizard). They were then taken below to the mess. Dad said they started eating breakfast at 0930 and 12 hours later they were still eating breakfast with many getting quite ill from the overindulgence.

After sailing to Tokyo the prisoners were taken ashore and Dad's trip home via Guam began. Imagine the joy of the family back home as the first word they received of Dad's survival of the war came with a phone call to his brother Martin when he docked in San Francisco.

Several years ago I was surfing the web and found a website built by Roger Mansell which was a compilation of information about all of the Japanese P.O.W. camps. Nagoya Camp No. 3 at Funatsu (click on the link for photos and information at the Mansell website) was listed but that was it. I e-mailed Roger to tell him that I enjoyed his site but was disappointed that there was no information posted about Funatsu. Roger promptly replied and I soon was e-mailing what information I had to him.

And soon my path would cross with H.M.S. Wizard. A couple of years after the information I had provided to Roger was posted on the web I received an e-mail from Great Britain. A member of the H.M.S. Wizard reunion society had seen the website, contacted Roger to get my e-mail address, and had printed copies of the website and had shown them at a reunion meeting. He wanted my address because a lady from Wales wanted to correspond with me and did not have the internet.

Shortly I received a letter from this lady from Wales and so I now gained a friend. Adeline Medford's husband had been a crewman on the Wizard and this initial contact has made us pen pals and we have written back and forth many times over the past five or six years.

When my wife and I started our new wine making and beer brewing supplies store in 2004 I soon started developing beer recipes for homebrew ingredients kits that I sell. I began naming a few of them in honor of my Dad's war experiences with the first being Morrison Hill Pale Ale (a clone of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) and when I started looking for a name for the second home brew ingredients kit I looked to Adeline and the Wizard reunion society. The second brewing ingredients kit was named by the Wizard group as HMS Wizard Magic Circle Mild Ale.

Adeline forwarded to me a blazer patch (pictured above) and when she informed me that she had read my letter to the reunion society that a beer had been named in their honor and that I was going to ship the ingredients to Britain so all could have a beer on me she said that it was moved and seconded and I was unanimously voted in as an honorary member of the H.M.S. Wizard Society. She also said that my being honored so probably had more to do with free beer than with the service of my father or her husband! Thanks, Ady!

Anyway, the home brewing ingredients will soon be on their way to Wales so that when the next reunion meeting is held in April 2008 a toast can be made to my Dad and to all the brave men who fought in World War II and especially to the crew of the H.M.S. Wizard.

BlueStem Winery offers a complete line of wine making equipment, winemaking supplies and ingredients for making wine along with all of the homebrewing equipment, home brewing supplies and home brew ingredients you need to make your own H.M.S. Wizard Magic Circle Mild Ale, Morrison Hill Pale Ale or any other recipe that you choose to make (or you can purchase the home brew ingredients kits we call BlueStems Best from the BlueStem Winery website.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this brief account of the crossing of paths of an Iowa farm boy turned American soldier and that of the Royal Navy destroyer H.M.S. Wizard. If you desire to read additional information about what my Dad and so many others endured, click on this link and also search for information about the atrocities committed by the Japanese on the island of Palawan (this link will tell you about Glenn McDole of Des Moines, Iowa, who was a friend of my Dad's at Palawan and after the war) where approximately 150 soldiers, sailors and Marines were murdered. Fortunately, my father had been transported out of this camp several months before these brave Americans were murdered by the Japanese.

Are you making wine this winter? Would you like to get into wine making this winter? BlueStem Winery has all of the wine making supplies and winemaking equipment you need and our WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine ingredient kits are the very best! We have sold WinExpert ingredient kits from the day we opened our store and just about six months ago we started offering the Cellar Craft wine kits. There are none better! Excellent products with easy to understand instructions and the wine (with a little patience!) ages into some of the best wine you can imagine.

Wine Clarification -- Liquor Quik Super-Kleer K.C.

LQ Super-Kleer K.C.Liquor Quik Super-Kleer K.C. is a 2-stage Euro-fining which BlueStem Winery has come to recommend to its wine making customers in most circumstances.

This fining contains two pouches, one of kieselsol and another of chitosan. This fining works by creating both strong positive and strong negative charges in the wine. This creates larger yeast clumping and faster clearing.

The type of fining has been used successfully in commercial wine kits such as WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits for years and has been a staple at BlueStem Winery since we opened our store.

LQ Super-Kleer can be used when making wine and should also be kept on hand as one of your standard home brewing supplies as it can also be used to help clear beer.

Add the kieselsol packet to your carboy. It is recommended that this 2-stage fining be added to your carboy prior to racking. Stir gently and bring the sediment up from the bottom of the carboy. Dissolve the chitosan packet in one fluid ounce of warm water and then add this to the carboy. Again, stir gently. Attach bung and airlock and wait from 12 to 48 hours (or longer). This product may not clear pectin haze or wine or beer made with hard water (water high in dissolved minerals).

BlueStem Winery recommends the use of LQ Super-Kleer for use with any of the Cellar Craft or WinExpert wine kits that it sells and it can also be used with any wine made from concentrates or fresh fruit juices.

Are you looking for a good selection of winemaking equipment or homebrew supplies? We may be what you are looking for! BlueStem Winery offers everything in wine making equipment and home brew supplies that the amateur vintner or brewer needs. If you find a piece of homebrewing equipment or some brewing supplies or some WinExpert ingredient kits that we do not have we will be happy to accommodate you by ordering the homebrewing supplies or the kits you want.

In addition to home winemaking kits we also stock a complete line of winemaking supplies for the vintner who wants to make their wine from fruit or concentrates. Ditto for the homebrew enthusiast. We have our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits called BlueStems Best or you can choose a recipe of your own and purchase the beer brewing supplies and brewing equipment you need to make it.

Stop in if you are in the area or we are open 24 / 7 on the web and can have your purchase on its way right away.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blogging Away!

First, let me tell you that I am computer illiterate! When I sent to college (then known as State College of Iowa or S.C.I. and later as University of Northern Iowa or U.N.I.) my computer programming class consisted of punch cards! Although I have used computers and the internet with great frequency over the years at work and at home I am most happy when the thing works the way it is supposed to! If it doesn't I am usually in trouble.

We built our first website for our wine making equipment and homebrew supplies store in 2005 and all that I learned was that you have to be careful who you choose to build your site! Anyone choosing a web developer out of Clear Lake, Iowa should use extra caution. After building this site we very shortly contacted a second web development company out of Waterloo, Iowa and it has made a huge difference! Andy Mullinex at Impact Marketing built us a great site that is very easy to maintain and update and he is a constant supplier of ideas to promote our winemaking ingredients and homebrew equipment site. The Clear Lake web developer had lots of great ideas to take our money away but did very little to earn it! If anyone tries to sell you on the idea of website optimization just give me an e-mail. It is easy to do yourself and you will probably do a better job, too!

Andy's latest ideas have been linking my blog into Technorati and yesterday he e-mails me about linking my blog into EntreCard. Although I have linked to Technorati I really haven't done anything to take advantage of it yet. I signed into EntreCard yesterday and have been inundated with requests to advertise on our blog. My only goal is to drive as much business as possible to the BlueStem Winery website and ultimately to sell as much wine making supplies, homebrewing equipment, home brew ingredients, WinExpert wine ingredient kits, Cellar Craft kits and our own line of home brewing ingredients kits (known as BlueStems Best) as possible. If doing all of this linking and exchanging helps to promote our blog and ultimately our website then let's do it!

In addition to selling winemaking equipment, winemaking supplies, homebrewing supplies and other products for making wine and beer, BlueStem is also a licensed winery and we are busy with our own wine making endeavors quite a bit of the time. So, if you are into home winemaking or need home brewing supplies we are the ones to see. We can also help you find the right Cellar Craft of WinExpert kits to try when you are looking to expand your wine horizons.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Beer Brewing Ingredients Shortages

Hop ShortagePanic! Panic! Panic! Everyone in the homebrewing supplies industry is very concerned about two of the basic ingredients needed to brew beer: hops and malt.

My wholesaler has been in contact with me several times recently announcing the allocation of hops for the 2008 season and are attempting to spread the supply of hops among its retailers as fairly as possible.

But . . . there is panic buying going on at all levels of the hop industry with some elements trying to corner the market by purchasing large quantities of hops from retailers. BlueStem Winery's first step to regulate the panic buying of hops was to remove all hops from our website. We are gradually adding hops back to our site as the market stabilizes but will continue to limit hop purchases, especially to customers who have not purchased from us before and who want to jump in and buy only hops from our website. Our first loyalty will be to our prior customers!

On the malt side of the equation, the continued deterioration of the dollar has put an inflationary spin on the price of malts and malt extracts.

This all mean that brewers may need to alter their purchases of brewing supplies and move toward brewing less hoppy beers until the hop situation is corrected.

BlueStem Winery will do its best to maintain a good selection of home brewing ingredients, including malt and hops but we will not be able to control all aspects of this situation.

In addition to offering a complete line of homebrew supplies, BlueStem Winery also inventories a complete line of brewing equipment and beer brewing ingredients. On the wine side of the business, we stock wine making equipment, winemaking supplies and home wine making ingredients plus a super array of WinExpert wine ingredient kits and we have just recently added Cellar Craft kits to our wine making lineup. We have marketed WinExpert kits since our opening in 2004 and added the Cellar Craft ingredient kits in mid-2007.

Our beer brewing ingredients kits are headlined by our selection of BlueStems Best kits (about 80% of these are clones of the Brewers Best kit line while the other 20% are kits designed by BlueStem).

BlueStem has recently implemented a discount program on all home brewing supplies and winemaking equipment purchased on the website. All purchases accumulate towards larger discounts. BlueStem wants to be your regular source for home brew supplies and wine making ingredients.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wine Clarification: Pectic Enzymes

Pectins present in wines can cause the wine to remain cloudy. Excess pectins are removed by the addition of pectic enzymes and this treatment is effective for red wines, white wines and for fruit wines. The addition of pectic enzyme prior to fermentation will, in addition to clarification, increase juice yield.

The pectic enzyme powder should be dissolved in water and added prior to fermentation when used to increase juice yields and and as a haze prevention. It can also be added after fermentation to reduce existing haze. Pectic enzymes are most effective at a minimum temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the haze persists you can test to see if the wine still contains excess pectins by adding your wine to methanol at a rate of 1:4. If a heavy, off-white precipitate forms the wine contains excess pectins and it should be treated again with pectic enzymes. If the problem continues it will most likely be necessary to filter the wine.

BlueStem Winery is your full-service supplier for winemaking equipment, wine making supplies, WinExpert ingredient kits, Cellar Craft kits, and all of your other home wine making needs. BlueStem also provides its home brewing clients with a complete line of homebrewing supplies, beer brewing ingredients, and brewing equipment plus we are your exclusive supplier of our own BlueStems Best brewing ingredients kits.

Whether you are making wine from backyard fruit, a WinExpert or Cellar Craft kit or brewing your own beer, we can help you with homebrew supplies or wine making advice. We look forward to being your source for home winemaking ingredients or home brew supplies.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

What's Hot at BlueStem Winery!

BlueStem WineryWhat's hot a BlueStem Winery? Lots of great wine making and beer brewing ingredients kits but not the weather!

It's Iowa! It's winter! Enuf said! I spent part of my day before I opened the store today chipping two inches of ice off the front sidewalk. Obviously the photo at left was taken during warmer times! I cannot wait for spring!

The past days I have been talking about different fining agents for wine. It was a very busy day at the store and on the website today. I spent all morning chipping ice and packaging web sales for shipment. We opened at 11:00 and I spent the rest of the day packaging when I could and waiting on store customers the rest of the time. Tonight . . . well, I am tired . . . and rather than try to be creative and writing an article about LQ Super-Kleer or another fining agent I am just going to list the various WinExpert kits we have at BlueStem for making wine. In days to come, I will also provide our line-up of brewing ingredients with emphasis on our great array of beer brewing ingredients kits known as BlueStems Best, and our great line-up of Cellar Craft kits for wine making.

Links are provided to our website so that you can read the description on each of our kits.

We offer the following WinExpert ingredent kits:

Selection Estate Washington Columbia Valley Riesling
Selection Estate Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Unwooded Chardonnay
Selection Estate Yamhill County Pinot Gris
Selection Estate Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel
Selection Estate Washington Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc-Merlot
Selection Estate Napa Valley Stag's Leap District Merlot
Selection Original Viognier (aka known as Selection Premium)
Selection Original Gewurztraminer
Selection Original Liebfraumilch
Selection Original Piesporter
Selection Original Sauvignon Blanc
Selection Original Chardonnay-Semillon
Selection Original Johannisberg Riesling
Selection Original Barolo
Selection Original Pinot Noir
Selection Original Cabernet Sauvignon
Selection Original Merlot
Selection Original Symphony
Selection Original Luna Rossa
Selection Original White Zinfandel
Selection Original Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot
Selection Original Chianti
Selection Original Domaine des Brumes (Brouilly)
Selection Original White Merlot
Selection International Italian Pinot Grigio
Selection International German Muller-Thurgau
Selection International Australian Chardonnay
Selection International French Merlot
Selection International Chilean Merlot
Selection International Spanish Rioja
Selection International Australian Cabernet-Shiraz
Selection International Italian Montepulciano
Selection International Italian Amarone
Vintners Reserve Gewurztraminer
Vintners Reserve Chamblais (Chablis)
Vintners Reserve Liebfraumilch
Vintners Reserve Riesling
Vintners Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Vintners Reserve Bourgeron Blanc (White Burgundy)
Vintners Reserve Bordailles Blanc (White Bordeaux)
Vintners Reserve Piesporter
Vintners Reserve Chardonnay
Vintners Reserve Bordailles Rouge (Red Bordeaux)
Vintners Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintners Reserve Bourgeron Rouge (Red Burgundy)
Vintners Reserve White Zinfandel
Vintners Reserve Blush
Vintners Reserve Bergamais (Beaujolais)
Vintners Reserve Pinot Noir
Vintners Reserve Merlot
Vintners Reserve Barolo
Vintners Reserve Shiraz
Vintners Reserve Zinfandel
Selection Speciale Millennium Sparkling Wine
Selection Speciale Port
Selection Speciale Riesling Icewine Style
Selection Speciale Cream Sherry
Selection Speciale Dry Sherry
Selection Speciale Cabernet Franc Icewine Style
Vintners Reserve World Vineyard Australian Chardonnay
Vintners Reserve World Vineyard California Zinfandel-Shiraz
Vintners Reserve World Vineyard Chilean Merlot
Island Mist Peach Apricot Chardonnay
Island Mist Exotic Fruits White Zinfandel
Island Mist Black Raspberry Merlot
Island Mist Green Apple Riesling
Island Mist Strawberry White Merlot
Island Mist Blackberry Cabernet
Island Mist Mango Citrus Symphony
Island Mist Kiwi Pear Sauvignon Blanc
Island Mist Blueberry Pinot Noir

Visit BlueStem Winery's website for all the winemaking supplies and wine making equipment you need for your home winemaking hobby plus check out our beer brewing ingredients, brewing supplies and home brew equipment in the beer making section of our website. BlueStem would very much like to be your home wine making and home brew equipment, supplies and ingredients supplier. Friendly service, knowledgeable advice and prompt shipping are how we want you to remember BlueStem Winery.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wine Clarification -- Gelatin

Gelatin FiningsPowdered gelatin finings is a good red wine fining agent. If red wine has excessive tannins gelatin finings make an excellent fining as it will reduce tannins in addition to clearing the wine. Dosage for gelatin finings can vary considerably based upon the concentration of suspended particles and on the amount of tannins present. Gelatin exhibits good less compactness traits (see December 8, 2007 blog article regarding lees compactness).

BlueStem Winery has operated a wine making and beer brewing supplies store since mid-2003 at 305 Third Street in Parkersburg, Iowa. Our website became operational approximately a year later and has given us a large gathering of new friends from all over the USA and Canada and from many countries all over the world.

Our speciality is wine as we are a licensed winery and we specialize in WinExpert kits and Cellar Craft kits for our home winemaking customers. We started from square one with the brewing supplies end of the business as I had never brewed beer previously. My first experience was making an Amber Cerveza Brewers Best kit. We carried the Brewers Best line for quite some time but found it a better fit to clone the Brewers Best line with our own BlueStems Best homebrewing ingredients kits.

We stock a complete line of winemaking equipment, homebrew supplies, home brewing ingredients and beer brewing equipment. For making wine, our wine making equipment is first rate and we pride ourselves on prompt service and professional packaging. Our homebrewing supplies are fresh as are our homebrew ingredients. BlueStem has recently implemented a great new discount program for whole line of homebrew supplies and wine making ingredients for everything purchased from our website. That plus free shipping on everything on our website including brewing equipment and beer brewing supplies.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wine Clarification -- Isinglass

IsinglassIsinglass is a super pure form of gelatin which is made from fish bladders. Isinglass is a very quick acting fining agent which is most effective on white wines. Is is very poor as to lees compactness as it creates a heavy deposit (see December 8, 2007 blog article regarding lees compactness).

The Isinglass sold by BlueStem Winery is in liquid form and is in a 45mL packet. At the recommended rate of 1mL/L this packet would be adequate to treat two 6-gallon carboys. Isinglass is also marketed in a powdered version.

After fermentation is done, mix liquid Isinglass with a small portion of wine and then stir this mixture into your carboy. Allow wine to clear for two or more weeks and then rack to a clean carboy.

BlueStem Winery is into making wine but we do home brewing as a special hobby! Our retail store at 305 Third Street in Parkersburg, Iowa offers a complete inventory of brewing equipment, home brew supplies, homebrew ingredients, winemaking ingredients, wine making equipment, winemaking supplies, BlueStems Best homebrewing ingredients kits, Cellar Craft ingredient kits and WinExpert ingredient kits.

Today was the last day to pre-order WinExpert kits for their Limited Edition lineup for early 2008. If you missed the deadline, BlueStem has ordered several extra kits and will have these available on a first come, first served basis until they are gone! Cellar Craft limited edition kits will continue to be available with deadlines for each type of wine expiring monthly from December, 2007 to March, 2008.

If you need brewing supplies, beer brewing equipment, homebrewing ingredients, or wine making supplies, winemaking ingredients or wine making equipment for your home winemaking or homebrew hobby, look to BlueStem Winery for all your needs.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Wine Clarification -- Egg Whites

One common household item that works well for fining red wines is egg whites. Egg whites are not suitable for fining white wines. Egg whites provide good lees compactness (see blog article from December 8, 2007).

The use of egg whites for fining wines is usually appropriate only for wines made from grapes. Egg whites help alleviate astringent flavors from your wine.

The procedure for using egg whites as a fining agent is as follows:

1. Separate the egg white from the yolk (use 1 to 2 egg whites per 100 liters of wine).
2. Add the whites to salt water (dissolve a pinch of salt in 100mL of water for each egg white used).
3. Add mixture to wine and stir thoroughly.
4. Rack wine not later than 7-10 days after addition of egg whites.

BlueStem Winery is your winemaking supplies source! BlueStem also stocks a complete line of home brew supplies. Our homebrew ingredients line features our very own line of partial mash ingredient kits called BlueStems Best. Some of the ingredient kits offered include Amber Cerveza, American Amber, American Cream Ale, American Light and American Micro Style Pale Ale. Our lineup of WinExpert kits includes wine kits from the following series: Selection Estate, Selection Original (aka Selection Premium), Selection International, Vintners Reserve, Island Mist and Selection Speciale. BlueStem also carries kits from the Cellar Craft Showcase line and from Cellar Craft Classics.

BlueStem Winery also carries a complete line of winemaking ingredients for making wine from your own backyard fruit or grapes. We are committed to our wine making and beer brewing customers and stock wine making equipment. ingredients and supplies plus homebrewing supplies, equipment and ingredients.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Wine Clarification -- Bentonite

BentoniteBentonite is an effective wine clarifier for all grape wines but it is especially useful in white wines because it helps prevent haze caused by proteins present in white wines. Bentonite provides poor lees compactness (see blog article from December 8, 2007).

Bentonite is most effective if added prior to the start of fermentation. When I use bentonite I typically dissolve the clay in hot water and put this solution in the primary fermenter prior to any of the other ingredients, including the juice itself. It can also be added to wine which is fermenting after the first or even the second racking.

Use bentonite in a range from 1 to 4 grams per gallon of wine must. Add bentonite to warm water at the rate of 1 gram of bentonite per 12.5ml of water. Heat the water on the range and stir until the bentonite is completely dissolved. Then pour the bentonite into the primary fermenter and continue the addition of the other wine ingredients. If adding bentonite at any time other than pre-fermentation you should use one half of the above recommendation. Wines treated with bentonite should be kept within a temperature range of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

BlueStem Winery
offers a wide range of WinExpert wine ingredient kits and a selective line of Cellar Craft kits. Both WinExpert and Cellar Craft ingredient kits are excellent choices for your wine making hobby.

You can purchase all of your winemaking equipment and brewing supplies at any hour of the day or day of the year from our website. Your wine making supplies or beer brewing equipment will be shipped promptly and if you have questions we will be more than happy to assist.

Our homebrew ingredients and wine making ingredients are fresh! Home winemaking or home brewing are great hobbies and we will be more than happy to get your started.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wine Clarification

When home wine making is done using fresh juices or grapes it is usually desirable to fine your wine to clarify (or clear) your wine. Fining is usually necessary because of the high amount or proteins present.

There are quite a few fining agents available for the wine making hobbyist to choose from including Bentonite, egg whites, gelatin, Kieselsol, Isinglass, pectic enzymes, Chitosan, Sparkolloid, grape tannins and my personal favorite, LQ Super Kleer (a dosage of Kieselsol and a dosage of Chitosan). Wine can also be filtered in lieu of using a fining agent.

Fining agents which are not liquids should be dissolved in water prior to introduction into the wine. After fining, kit wines should stand for at least two weeks prior to stabilization, wine from juice should be allowed to clear for at least four weeks and wines from grapes should be allowed to clear for approximately eight weeks prior to stabilization.

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A review of each of these fining agents will be done over the next few days beginning with Bentonite the next time I write a blog article.

When choosing a fining agent to use you should consider whether the agent works well with white wine or red wine or either and also you should consider the density of the lees which will result from the use of different agents. Fining agents which do poor job of lees compaction will result in a larger amount of sediment. This will possibly result in a second racking being required and ultimately a reduction in wine quantity. This aspect will be reviewed as we write about each of the fining agents.

BlueStem Winery
is a licensed and bonded Iowa winery. We have been making wine professionally since 2005 and as wine making enthusiasts for over 30 years. We operate a retail store selling homebrewing supplies, wine making equipment, our own line of brewing ingredients kits called BlueStems Best and home winemaking kits from both WinExpert and Cellar Craft. WinExpert kits have been a staple at BlueStem since we opened in 2003 and we have just recently added the Cellar Craft kits to our winemaking supplies inventory.

We stock a complete line of winemaking equipment, homebrew supplies, beer brewing equipment, homebrewing ingredients plus wine making ingredients and supplies.

BlueStem prides itself on prompt shipping of your brewing equipment and home brew supplies purchases and on knowledgeable, friendly service. We will always take the time to help you with any problems or concerns.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rotten Eggs in Your Wine

I am pressed for time today but wanted to quickly address a problem that one of my home wine making customers is fighting today. This problem is the presence of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in your wine must.

The key to solving this problem is early detection. Detection is easy because the aroma produced by the presence of hydrogen sulphides is that of rotten eggs.

There are several possible causes but I will refer you to the How To page on our website where there is a link to a .pdf file which more fully explains the causes and how to deal with this problem. The most common method of eliminating the problem is to aerate your wine must (the offshoot of this is a possible oxidation of your wine) by racking it several times and allowing as much splash as possible. Another solution can be found in the website article.

BlueStem Winery is your source for winemaking supplies both in the store and on the web. We specialize in wine ingredient kits from two of the world's best kit suppliers: WinExpert and Cellar Craft! WinExpert kits were our first order of business when we opened and about four months ago we added Cellar Craft kits to our inventory. We have posted articles on our blog about all of the Cellar Craft ingredient kits we carry and will soon be posting descriptions of all of our WinExpert kits on our blog.

Cellar Craft kits we have written about include:

Showcase Amarone
Showcase Rosso Fortissimo
Showcase Cabernet-Shiraz
Showcase Chateau du Pays
Washington Reserve Late Harvest Riesling
Showcase Yakima Valley Merlot
Showcase Yakima Valley Syrah
Showcase Viognier
Showcase Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel
Showcase Cabernet-Merlot
Showcase Gewurztraminer-Riesling
Showcase Yakima Valley Pinot Gris
Italian Reserva Nebbiolo
Porto Corinto
Washington State White Merlot
Classic Port
Italian Reserva Pinot Grigio

Our website features pricing with all shipping expense included for our winemaking equipment and home brew supplies to anywhere in the lower 48. The price shown on the website is exactly what you will pay for any homebrew ingredients or wine making equipment purchased with no additional charges for shipping (other than the one time per order $6.00 handling fee).

We specialize in prompt, friendly and knowledgeable service to our wine making and home brewing customers. Beer brewing supplies can be purchased for your own recipe or you can purchase pre-packaged kits easy to make extract kits from Muntons, Coopers, and others. Partial mash kits pre-packaged at BlueStem Winery (our own BlueStems Best beer brewing ingredients kits) are also available in may different beer styles or if you are a whole grain brewer we stock a complete line of malted grains and other home brewing ingredients for your personal recipes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Today I cut the cord on Samsung! Literally! We (my wife and I) purchased an over-the-range Samsung microwave oven a couple of months ago. It took us a few weeks to get a carpenter hired to install the microwave and when it was installed (after removing half of our kitchen cupboards to install it) the fan would not quit running.

I called the Samsung Customer Care Center in New Jersey and was, after several phone calls, told that Samsung did not have a service tech within our area and so our only choices were to return the microwave for exchange or to get a cash refund. Neither of these choices was really acceptable as they kind of ignored the fact that they had sold me a piece of junk, could not service it (apparently) and it was just my tough luck that I had hired a carpenter to install it, then to have it removed, and then to reinstall another one. Basically it comes down to the fact that I will have more in carpenter expenses then what the microwave cost to begin with by the time we get done.

We opted for the refund (don't want another Samsung product -- ever!) and were told that it was only going to take them 5 or 6 weeks to process the refund. They can build another thousand or so defective microwaves during that length of time but they cannot write a check any too fast. So today, at Samsung's instruction, I literally cut the cord off the microwave and mailed it to them (apparently they don't want me to attempt to fix the thing!). Now I can also pay to dispose of the thing at the land fill! Go Green, Samsung!!

I think it takes a lot of moxie to actually call their service center a Customer Care center because I have never seen a company who really cared less about their customers (or in my case, former customer!). Never . . . never . . . never again will I purchase anything that says Samsung on it. They probably make a good product, at least occasionally, but I don't want to ever have to deal with the people in New Jersey again. For once, I wouldn't mind a company moving a few jobs to India or wherever.

What makes me mad is that there are companies who treat their customers like this. Well, rest assured that our company does not treat our clients in any way even remotely similar to the way Samsung treated us. We pride ourselves on friendly, knowledgeable, and honest dealings with our customers . . . before, during and after the sale!

Looking for the equipment, supplies and ingredients your need for home winemaking or home brewing? Either (or both) is a great hobby and where else can you produce something so good?

Our winemaking supplies and homebrew ingredients are the best and we are always willing to take the time to help you through the bumps! I chart the progress of my beginning wine making and beer brewing customers by the number of phone calls (or e-mails) that I get asking for help! Sometimes they start at several calls a day and then gradually taper off as they get comfortable with the whole process.

We stock a complete line of home brew supplies and wine making equipment and we are always at your service. No former Samsung employees working here! We know how to treat our customers . . . like friends! Relax . . . have a home brew (or a big glass of home made wine!).

Check out our super line of WinExpert kits and Cellar Craft ingredient kits plus our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits called BlueStems Best. WinExpert wine ingredient kits and Cellar Craft kits make absolutely super wine and the beer you brew with our homebrew ingredients kits are superb! Cheers!

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Stuck Fermentations and How to Deal With Them

When fermentation ceases and all of the available sugars have not been converted to alcohol, you have what is called a stuck fermentation.

Why? What do you need to do to finish the fermentation?

I have had stuck fermentations and I have also thought that I had a stuck fermentation when I really did not. For the latter, there was an occasion when I did not get the lid securely sealed on my primary fermenter and the gases were escaping around the lid rather than through the airlock. There was another occasion when I did not have a good seal around the airlock stem and gases were passing between the grommet and the airlock rather than passing through the airlock. I also had a customer recently who did not put liquid in the airlock. He was quite frantic thinking that the fermentation was not going to start when in fact it was completely done.

The proof of whether you actually have or have had a stuck fermentation lies in using your hydrometer. You can go to the How To links on our website for instructions on how to use and read a hydrometer.

By taking hydrometer readings on consecutive days you can figure out if your sugar content is decreasing as it should. Instead of being stuck, your wine (or beer) may simply being slowing down as the amount of available sugar decreases. It is also possible that your fermentation is complete.

The presence of bacteria, temperatures which are too cool or too warm, and poor yeast nutrition can all lead to an unfinished fermentation. Yeast needs lots of food, good sanitation and a temperature suitable for the variety of yeast being used.

A complete list of causes of stuck fermentations is available on our website (go to the How To page and click on the link to visit our explanation about Stuck Fermentations).

BlueStem Winery is a full service retailer of home brewing supplies, wine making equipment, our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits called BlueStems Best, plus Cellar Craft kits and WinExpert kits for your wine making hobby.

Homebrew equipment and winemaking supplies are always on hand for immediate shipment and we do pride ourselves on the very prompt delivery of your purchases. We feature friendly and knowledgeable service along with our fresh homebrewing supplies and a large inventory of wine making supplies.

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