Pinot Noir – One the most versatile wine grapes in the world!

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Pinot Noir is often hailed for being utterly delicious, but it also happens to be one of the most versatile wine grapes in the world. This single red grape variety can be transformed to create not just red wine, but white, rosé, and sparkling wine as well. How on earth is this possible? It all comes down to the winemaking methods and the production processes that determine this little grape’s fate.


White Pinot Noir

If you were to cut open a Pinot Noir grape, you’d see that the flesh (the pulpy part) is actually a pale greenish yellow color. It’s actually the skins of the grapes that dye the juice a beautiful red hue, so if you want to produce a white wine with red grapes – the skins have got to be removed ASAP. This is the secret to white Pinot Noir (aka “Vin Gris”)

Of course, the red skins of grapes start dying the juice really quickly so winemakers work extra fast, usually opting to harvest on a cool morning and get the grapes to the cellar and pressed as fast as possible. The wine press used to make white Pinot Noir is a special pneumatic press (this style of press is used for white wine making) which crushes the grapes but filters off the skins and seeds. The remaining juice typically has a lovely, deep golden color.


How White Wine is Made

See how white wine is made differently than red wine.

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Red Pinot Noir

Red Pinot Noir uses the red winemaking process.

Grapes are collected and put into grape crushers which drop the entire contents of the crusher into a tank (skins, seeds, pulp, and all!). Because Pinot Noir is such a thin-skinned variety, it often gets extended time with its skins (before and after wine making), in order to soak up as much of the red pigment as possible. In case you were wondering, these two processes are cold-soaking (before fermentation) and extended maceration (after fermentation). Some winemakers will even add the Pinot Noir stems into the fermentation to increase color extraction (it adds some bitterness but you get a whole lot more color and age-worthiness too!). After this whole process is done, you have a wine with a pale to medium ruby red color.


How Red Wine is Made

See how red wine is made differently than white wine.

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Rosé Pinot Noir

Making Rosé is all about timing. The longer the skins are in the juice, the darker they dye the wine.

For Pinot Noir, this process looks a little like a combination of red and white winemaking. The grapes get crushed into a tank with the skins and seeds. Then the juice is monitored by the winemaker who takes samples every hour or so to check the color extraction. The moment she thinks the color is perfect, the winemaker strains the juice from the skins into clean tanks where the wine completes its fermentation. I’ve spoken with winemakers in both California and Oregon who say they’ve made rosé wines with less than 7 hours of “skin contact” time!



How Rosé Wine is Made

Learn about the different methods used to create rosé wine.

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Sparkling Pinot Noir aka Blanc de Noirs

Start with white Pinot Noir and then ferment it again to make blanc de noirs.

This is the specialty of Champagne, including Jay-Z’s brand, Armand de Brignac, whose “tete de cuvée” is a special edition bottling of 100% Pinot Noir in a Blanc de Noirs style. To make sparkling wine, you essentially take a specially formulated wine (using perfectly underripe grapes that produce more acidity) and ferment it again in bottles so that the carbon dioxide can’t escape and it pressurizes the bottle, carbonating the wine. You can find Blanc de Noirs made all over the world, and almost always, Pinot Noir is the grape used for this wine (the other is a Pinot variant called Pinot Meunier).



How Sparkling Wine is Made

Learn about the different methods used to create sparkling wine.

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Wine Fruit Snacks

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Looking for something to snack on this holiday season? We found the perfect recipe for wine fruit snacks! ( For Adults only!)

via Thrive Style

wine-gummies-2-256x490Wine Fruit Snacks – Wine Gummy Bears (or Hearts—whatever shape you want to make them!)

1 cup wine
4 Tbsp gelatin (I always use this kind)
1/2 tsp stevia (optional)
2 -4 Tbsp maple syrup (I always use Grade B, but any kind will work)

Note: The amount of maple syrup you use will depend on (1) how dry your wine is and (2) how sweet you want your gummies! You’ll have to taste it as you go and add more as needed.

Also, you can double or triple this–it works just the same!

In a saucepan, warm the wine on low heat. I put a thermometer in it and made sure it didn’t go much above 90 degrees. Wine boils at 159 degrees F, and so I definitely wanted to keep it well below that so the alcohol wouldn’t burn off. You don’t need a thermometer though, just keep it on the lowest heat and don’t take your time with the process. Add the gelatin one Tbsp at a time, and stir very well before adding more. I stirred the gelatin/wine with a whisk and the white wine version got very frothy. This is ok! It still works, and the froth gels too–but if you want your gummies not to have a little froth on the bottom, you can scoop it off. After the gelatin has completely dissolved, add the other ingredients. Taste the mixture after adding each one—you’ll have to use your taste buds as a gauge for how much sweetener to add! I added 2 Tbsp maple syrup to each of my batches of gummies today (a pinot noir and a dry riesling). Also keep in mind that the more sweetener you add, the less you’ll taste the flavor of the wine! In my mind, these should be a little less sweet than a regular gummy bear—they are for grown-ups after all! …Sweeter gummies get eaten faster for me, and portion control is necessary for these–to avoid getting drunk :-)

Once your mixture is ready, either use a spoon to fill a mold or dump the whole batch into a pan (for square cut gummies). I’ve done it both ways—and although the hearts are pretty, I’ll make the square ones if they’re just for me (easier).

Put them in the fridge to set. You don’t have to do this, but it speeds up the process. They’ll be the texture of Jello jigglers pretty quickly–go ahead and eat them this way if you want to. But I recommend waiting! They get better! In fact, I recommend that you let them chill for at least 2-3 hours. They really do become the texture of gummy bears. I keep them in the fridge, but  you don’t have to if you want to pack them up and take them to a party. They won’t un-gel.

If you’re into essential oils, you could probably add a couple drops to the gummies—I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure I will the next time I make them! If you’re interested in chatting about essential oils, check out my essential oils facebook page. The only rules I have there are that you have to be nice, and you can’t solicit people! I use Young Living Oils, but my facebook group is open to anyone passionate about being oily (or anyone who wants to learn). Come and say hi!

If you like wine gummies, you’ll love margarita gummies too! Click here for the recipe.


#CelebrateBreedekloof – A Whole Month Of Celebrations and Wine

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For a whole month, the Breedekloof Wine Valley will celebrate all it has accomplished this year. Join us for #CelebrateBreedekloof and experience some of the best wines in the country! And what’s the best of it all – you will be able to taste Merwida’s wines from 10am until 4pm, on Saturdays!


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Mr. Robot, the Winemaker

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Technology is making everyday tasks easier and quicker, and the wine industry is no exception. The new invention is a robot that takes care of all the processes transforming grapes into wine.

The Italian wine researchers Enosis Meraviglia are making a bold attempt to dominate the world of wine production through the introduction of the Genesis wine robot, which will be responsible for the initial stage of producing wine.


“In order to beat the world competition it is necessary to aim for exclusiveness. In order to achieve exclusivity it is essential to acquiesce to research, as only with the aid of research can we secure and value the exclusivity of tradition,” says the statement on the official website of the winery.

To do this the company decided to turn the initial stages of its wine production over to robots.

The Genesis wine robot, created by wine-maker Donato Lanati, the founder of the company’s research center, looks like it’s come straight from the Star Wars set. It is a metal tank with numerous sensors and antennas attached to it.

The tank is able to store up to 200 kilograms of grapes, from which is will make 100 liters of wine for further processing.

The robot weighs the grapes, squeezes them and measures how much juice it creates. The scientists say that according to the information Genesis gives it, they can learn much about the variety of the grape and the region it comes from.

The initial raw wine produced by the robot further ferments in a so-called “psychedelic laboratory”, a sort of incubator, so-called due to the numerous colored lamps placed inside it.

The laboratory maintains the right temperature needed to process the wine and has special equipment inside which constantly gathers information on its biochemistry.

After this, the wine is aged in a special dark, chilled cellar.

Read more:

The biggest barrel in the world

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Twelve meters long, six meters in diameter and weighing 40 tonnes, the barrel was made for Languedoc estate, Château Puech Haut.

The barrel was made by local carpenter Noussyet and required 37 tonnes of oak to complete.

The monstrous creation will now be placed outside the winery and while it is capable of holding hundreds of thousands of liters of wine, it will not be used for this purpose.

The estate’s owner, Gérard Bru, has said it will most likely be used for events and may even become home to a wine shop.

This is not the first gigantic barrel to emerge from France. In 1878 and then most famously in 1885 Eugene Mercier of the eponymous Champagne house had gained a reputation for bringing huge barrels to the various Paris Exhibitions.

His first creation was a relatively small cask that could hold a rather paltry 75,000 bottles. The next and most famous cask that debuted in 1885 could hold 200,000 litres of wine and was in fact used for that purpose too, being filled completely only once in its working life courtesy of the enormous 1887 harvest.

Towed to Paris by 24 oxen and 18 horses for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, two bridges collapsed under its weight and Mercier had to buy five adjoined houses in Paris which he summarily tore down so he would have somewhere to park it.

The barrel, no longer a winemaking tool, is today displayed at Mercier’s winery in Epernay.

Château Puech Haut meanwhile is also well-known for barrel-related art, Bru invites various artists, some extremely well-known, to decorate the (normal-sized) barriques from his cellar. Many are now in display in art galleries and collections around the world.

What would you like to do with such a gigantic barrel?

Celebrating the South African wine industry!

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Let’s all raise a glass to Jan van Riebeeck tonight!



Back to Basics: What is wine?

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Via WineFolly

What is Wine?

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made with the fermented juice of grapes. Technically, wine can be made with any fruit (i.e. apples, cranberries, plums, etc) but most wines are made with wine grapes (which are different than table grapes). Speaking of differences, the difference between wine and beer is that beer is made from fermenting brewed grains. So very simply, wine is made from fruit and beer is made from grains. Of course, there exceptions –that push the boundaries of beer,–but that story is for another time.

What are Wine Grapes?

Wine grapes are different than table grapes: they are smaller, sweeter and have lots of seeds. Most wines are made with a single species of grape that originated in Caucasus called Vitis vinifera. There are thousands of different varieties within the Vitis vinifera species–the most common is Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Origin of the term “Vintage”

Wine grapes take an entire season to ripen and thus, wine is produced just once a year. This is where the term vintage comes from: “Vint” stands for “Winemaking” and “age” implies the year it was made. So, when you see a vintage year listed on the label, that’s the year the grapes were picked and made into wine. The harvest season in the northern hemisphere (Europe, US) is from August–September and the harvest season in the southern hemisphere (Argentina, Australia) is from February–April.

Single-Varietal Wine

A single-varietal wine is made primarily with one type of grape. It’s common to see these wines labeled by the name of that grape variety. For example, a bottle of Riesling is made with Riesling grapes. It’s useful to note that each country has different rules for how much of the variety should be included in order to be labeled as a varietal wine.

Percentage Required to Label as a Single-Varietal Wine

  • 75% USA*, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Greece
  • 80% Argentina
  • 85% Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand

*Oregon requires 90% of the varietal

The Taste of Wine

There are several facets that explain wine’s unique flavor: acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin, and aroma compounds produced in fermentation.

  • Acidity: Wine as a beverage lies on the acidic end of the pH scale ranging from as low as 2.5 (lemon) to as high as 4.5 (greek yoghurt). Wine tastes tart.
  • Sweetness: Depending on what style of wine you drink, sweetness in wine ranges from having no sugar at all to sweet like maple syrup. The term “dry” refers to a wine without sweetness. See the wine sweetness chart  
  • Alcohol: The taste of alcohol is spicy, palate-coating and warms the back of your throat. Wine’s average range of alcohol is about 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) to 15% ABV. Of course, there are a few exceptions: Moscato d’Asti is as low as 5.5% ABV and Port is fortified with neutral brandy upping it to 20% ABV. Look at a chart of the alcohol levels in wine
  • Tannin: Tannin is found in red wines and contributes to the astringent quality of red wine. Put a wet, black tea bag on your tongue for a great example of how tannin tastes. Read more about tannin in wine
  • Aroma Compounds: Within the tiny minutia of wine (the phenols, esters, higher alcohols, acids, etc) is where you’ll find the complexities to wine’s flavors and aromas. Each grape variety exhibits aroma compounds at different levels. This is why some wines smell like berries and others smell like flowers. Another contributing factor to wine’s aromas is aging. Nearly all red wines are aged in oak, which not only contributes an oak barrel’s flavor compounds (like vanillan) but also acts as a conduit to expose the wine to oxygen. Oxidation and aging produce a range of unique flavors to wine including nuttiness, and dried fruit/flower flavors. Find out where wine aromas come from


Your knowledge about wine and how you communicate it with others
Wine is a seemingly simple beverage that becomes more complex the more you study it. The good thing is, it doesn’t matter how much you know, nearly everyone can appreciate wine. In short, wine is good.

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You would probably think someone is high on weed when they suggest weed-fermented wine… Well, as most unthinkable things nowadays, it is the latest craze, according to VinePair.

Historically, wine fortified with cannabis hasn’t been guzzled at the average Thirsty Thursday happy hour. Instead, pot-wine has been consumed during religious rituals and used as a form of anesthesia in surgery. Yes, it’s that powerful. Records of the marijuana plant being utilized for medicinal purposes date back to the 28th century B.C. In China during the second century A.D., archaeologists found records showing that the founder of Chinese surgery, Hua T’o, used wine fortified with cannabis resin to reduce pain during surgery.

While the exact recipes for the pot-wines of yore aren’t available, a commonly used manufacturing method now is cold-pressed, never heated. It may not have the exact psychotropic effect one would expect. Instead, cannabis acts more like an herb would, adding depth of flavor and structure to wines. Melissa Etheridge, who became an unlikely, vociferous advocate of medical cannabis after going through a bout of chemotherapy, has created a line of pot-wine through Greenway in California, called “No Label.”

The Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter, Melissa Etheridge, is eagerly embracing her role as a “ganjapreneur” and it’s hard to think of a better place on earth than California to launch another wine revolution. California wines are known for their robust, daring flavors and vertiginously high alcohol content (consumers are demanding fuller-bodied flavors from wines, so producers are leaving grapes on the vine for longer to ripen, which ends up imparting more flavor but also packing more alcohol) and California culture is known for it’s paradoxically assertive and laid-back approach to launching and then dominating new, upstart markets and ideas. And winemakers in Northern California have allegedly been making it for decades – it was probably just a matter of time before someone canny capitalized on the opportunity.

Greenway, founded in 2005 in Santa Cruz, the first dispensary in California to be backed by both the city and the state, embraces both the medicinal and the recreational possibilities of cannabis, and is at the forefront of making cannabis consumption as delicious and sophisticated as possible.

“Cannabis is highly medicinal,” Lisa Molyneux, Greenway’s founder-farmer says. “And even when people think they are just using cannabis recreationally or to relax, it probably has an underlying medical or psychological component.

“I am a wine-lover and I truly believe that a glass of wine a day can be medicinal too,” she explains. “The problem is, few people stop at one, so the health benefits kind of fly out the window when you’re downing three or four glasses a night.”


Once I got clearance from my legal team and was able to sell a wine tincture at Greenway, I heard from a lot of wine-loving customers that two ounces of the tincture was all they needed to get the relaxing effects of wine. Ironically, my wine tincture is probably helping people drink and smoke less!”

But how legal is it?

Unless you’re up for making a home brew yourself, Marijuana wine is (somewhat) available and legal in America, and probably will become increasingly so in the years to come. (About 53% of Americans support marijuana legalization now, compared to roughly 42% of Americans in 2010, according to Pew Research). Four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska – and the District of Columbia have passed measures legalizing marijuana use, 14 states have decriminalized certain amounts of possession and 23 states plus D.C. have legalized medical marijuana.

In California, it’s legal to possess and cultivate cannabis for personal medical use given the recommendation or approval of a state-licensed physician. Patients are commonly issued a cannabis ID card. About 572,762 Californians are thought to be card-carrying cannabis users (out of a population of more than 38 million).

Read the full article here

Would you be eager to get your hands on a bottle of weed-wine?

Here are more articles on the subject:


How Long Does Wine Last Opened?

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For some of us, this question has never come to mind, as we simply drink the whole bottle once it’s been opened. But for someone with more sober habits, WineFolly have created a simple guide to how long wine lasts once it has been opened:


10 Questions with Magnus Kriel

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We had a chat with our cellar master/winemaker/viticulturist, Magnus Kriel about this year’s harvest season:

Merwida 035

This year’s harvest season started earlier compared to other years. What is the main reason for this and do you think it will have an effect on the 2015 vintages?

Normally a lighter yield is the main reason for earlier harvests, but this year it is probably a combination of weather related factors which caused earlier budding, flowering and eventually 14 – 18 days earlier harvesting.

We had quite a strange weather pattern at the end of last year, with very hot temperatures for a few days, and rain the next. What effect did this have on the vines?

It all worked together creating earlier ripening of the grapes. We had efficient water supply for irrigation so the vines was under no stress at any time, creating optimal conditions for high quality grapes. The rain was also too early to cause significant botrytis infections on the grapes.

How does this year’s harvest totals compare to those of 2014?

Some of our major white varieties is down by almost 20% while others were more or less the same. Reds was the same a 2014 with almost no exceptions throughout the cultivar spectrum. Our total crop is about 3.5% up from 2014, mainly due to new plantings.

How does the white and red tonnages differ from last year?

2014’s composition was about 37% red and 63% white. This year is about 41% red and 59% white

Do you only pick grapes during daytime or at night as well? If so, why and what is the effect?

We pick about 85% of our crop by machine and do this mainly by night. There is a significant difference between night and day time temperatures during February/March and it is always better, quality-wise, to get grapes in as cold as possible. It also helps the winery’s cooling plant cope better, with less heat exchange necessary.

Apart from the power cuts, what other factor was a major concern for you during this year’s harvest?

We are a little short on white wine fermentation space, but we will address this issue hopefully this year, otherwise in 2016.

Were there any new cultivars harvested this year? If so, how did they perform and are you excited about the outcome?

We picked some Durif (Petit Sirah) and some Ugni blanc for the first time. The Ugni is blended with some Colombar because the volume was too small to keep separate, but we are quite excited about the Durif!

Any new cultivars on the horizon for bottling?

Maybe some Pinot Gris, but we will make a final decision a bit later this year on the wines’ performance at comparative tastings.

What do you plan on changing in preparation for next year’s harvest?

Nothing major, all our new 2015 additions performed as expected and even better in some cases. We will concentrate on managing current resources as best as possible.

What is your overall experience of the 2015 harvest and your predictions for the 2016 harvest?

2015 from a wine-making point of view, was probably the best in 15 years’ time! The healthy grapes made the whole process smooth and effortless. The average quality of the wine is also about a 50% improvement on 2014. I expected a bit more from the top quality wines, but it is still early days – the wines need a bit more time to develop than in 2014. Overall we look back on a fantastic harvest season at Merwida, with many highlights and after action satisfaction! It is too early to give comments on 2016’s harvest but one thing I can say is that it would be very tough to improve on 2015.

With that great news, we are even more excited for the 2015 vintages! Look out for our Cuveé Brut and 2015 Pinotage Rosé which will be bottled soon!