a DIRT & WINE blog


Batch #4: Bottling the New Year Noir

Bottling day is always exciting. We actually bottled this batch earlier this month on the 2nd. When you bottle, you of course sample! This is only the 2nd red wine kit we’ve done and the first didn’t turn out… but this one did! We got about 27 bottles.

There is nothing spectacular, at first taste, if you will. However, more experienced wine maker’s and the many, many reviews promise this wine gets better with age. All wine does! Well, most. Anyway, reports of tasting notes every month or so to come.

I found this great community of home wine maker’s via the Winemaker’s Academy, as well as a reference to some wine labels that are not a pain to remove. A big thank you to Matt for the reference and discount!

We named this batch, New Year Noir, as we bottled after the new year. We obviously have cats because this is what made the “front page”, if you will.

New Year Noir

A perfectly good, New Year Noooooiir, get it? Roar? It’s okay, you don’t have to.


I didn’t get the alignment correct the first two times and the label peeled off and back on so easily. The picture shown is not the best but the size of the label is great, as well. I’m in LOVE with these GROG TAG labels. I don’t think I will ever spend the time scrubbing labels again. Let’s be real, it’s just not fun. I also purchased some of the “write on” labels, will test those out soon enough.

We have two kits of white wine awaiting their fermenting tub – cheers to more wine making!

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Batch #4: Stabilizing and clearing

Finally, last step before bottling! Time to stabilize (kill the yeast) and scoot the wine along to clearing.

When I pulled the carboy out of the closet, I noticed a lot of moisture. The wine did not continue to ferment, as it was noted that it could or could not. I’m not sure if this is an issue but taking note of it anyway in my Winemaker’s Log. batch4moistureAs always, we start by checking the gravity reading. I consistently hit this 0.990 mark as shown below and needed to be less than 0.996. As this stage, we can take a stab at the alcohol content.

The initial reading when we started the fermenting process was 1.084, less the 0.990 we just got, and multiply by 131… we’re looking at roughly 12.31% alcohol content. Not bad!

I dissolved the package of metabisulphite and sorbate in 1/2 cup of cool, distilled water, and then added it to the must. Then, time to whip the hell out of the wine. The purpose of this step is to release any and all gas out of the wine. Trapped gas can lead to foul tasting and smelling wine, as well as tasting bubbly when it is not intended to.

I used the degassing whip attached to a drill, whipping for 2 minutes, then stirring with the spoon to make sure I’m stirring up the bottom, and then back to the drill. I must of done this 4-6 times. I was still getting a lot of fizz.

batch4degassingI remembered we had a specific bung to attach to the whip and insert into the carboy, creating a sort of vacuum. I put that sucker on and regretted it. The damn drill shredded pieces of the bung INTO THE MUST.

batch4bungI was able to get a lot of it out using the spoon. It’s a pain because that opening is not much to try and scrap the top of the must. After researching the internet, I learned the wine IS NOT ruined. I may or may not rack it again before bottling, carefully siphoning around the plastic pieces.

It’s very hard to post and share such a stupid lesson learned! But I learned. I assure you it will still be drinkable. It’s food grade plastic anyway. Besides, if you don’t want it, that means more for me!

We have another 14 days before it’s time to bottle, which reminds me… time to order another kit!

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Batch#4: Secondary Fermentation

It’s time for Step #2 for this Pinot Noir wine kit. As always, the first step is to test the gravity reading. Ideal reading per the directions was to get between 1.010 or less. We got 0.996 – win. Next, rack the wine.

This step is simply racking the wine to the glass carboy, leaving as much of the sediment behind as possible. Using the fancy siphon hose, it was really just a waiting game to transfer the must.

batch4step2We may or may not see any further fermentation. Now we wait for another 10 days!


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Batch #4: Let the fermentation begin!

It’s red wine season, a great time of year. A glass of whatever red is always so pleasant with a crisp chill in the air. It’s a perfect time to start a new batch of Pinor Noir!

I had this kit laying around for a month already, just waiting to kicked off. The kits and instructions make things pretty easy, labeling packets to coordinate with the directions. Here is the box of juice and other potions that make the magic.

vinters pinot noirFirst thing is first, cleaning and sanitation. I ordered Star San this go around, which had great reviews and will last for many batches. For the first step, the primary fermenter (plastic bucket), spoon, wine theif, hydrometer, and test tube were cleaned and sanitized.

sanitizedNext, a half gallon of warm water and bentonite were mixed together. Bentonite is a fining agent and at this stage is used to speed up the fermentation process. Then the wonderful bag of grape juice.

benoite and juiceWe topped off the primary fermenter with distilled water to make it a full 6 gallons. After a lot of stirring, we took a sample to get the gravity reading. The instructions stated I wanted it to be between 1.080 and 1.097.

We got a solid 1.084, despite the horrible picture, but first steps going well. We will test the gravity again and again, to check on the fermentation process. As the yeast eats the sugar, the hydrometer will sink lower.

We moved the fermenter into the wine cellar, ahem, coat closet, and pitched the yeast. Topped it with the air bung and called it a night.

test add yeast let sitIn about 5-7 days, we will check the gravity reading and then rack it to the secondary fermenter.

More to come!


First post about wine making!

As stated in the About, I am a novice wine maker, this being the 2nd batch done at home. Our very first batch was at Water 2 Wine, a couple of years ago, which was a lot of fun. I fell in love with that Chilean Pinot Noir. However, they take care of so much of the work! I will have to back-post on the real first batch we did at home, which turned out fantastic.

Back to the present. Let me introduce this kit:

This week, we are close to bottle the batch of Cab. The kit is pretty advance and has taught us a lot. It came with grape skins, along with the juice, and oak chips. I had some issues racking to the secondary fermenter with the grape skins… I forced the siphon out of frustration and ended up exploding red wine all over our kitchen nook. Lesson learned. It was a mess.

In order to prepare for bottling, the instructions highly recommended filtering. We took the plunge and ordered a Buon Vino Mini Jet filtration system and waited for it to be delivered. It is awesome. Pretty simple and easy to use.

cab filteringWe filtered the wine from the glass carboy to the primary carboy with the #1 pads. Then, filtered the wine back into the glass carboy using the #2 pads.

When we racked the wine, we ran into this same problem, not getting a full 6 gallons into the carboy:

Cab filtered

This is due to making the choice to put half of the grape skins directly into the must and half bundled in a cheese cloth, into the must. The option was in the instructions, so we chose both.

I do not recommend putting the grape skins directly into the fermenter without the cloth, unless you are more experienced with this method. It left a lot of sediment at the bottom of the carboy. I’m not sure if that much sediment would still occur if bagged.

For me, like I said, it resulted in a disaster of a mess when racking with a siphon and not filtering. And again, even with the filtering system, it seems we lost some wine. I’m crossing my fingers that the wine is not in danger until we bottle. Can you believe I didn’t have similar-wine on hand to add to it? Yea, unbelievable.

The kit suggests to let it sit for a couple days before bottling, as the wine is agitated. I am hoping all goes well and get to bottle this weekend!

Of course, we had to sample some. My comments were a short burst of some kind of berry, followed by a smooth, dry finish. I’m not good at explaining the notes. I’ll work on that.

This wine is recommended to age at 1 year and even better up to 4 years. How is one supposed to wait that long?! Time to get another kit going…

I’m thinking we can name this something around, Anniversary, as this kit was a gift to celebrate our second anniversary ❤