Syrah before the sort
Ooh, Syrah… swoon.
Last night found Team Zebra (consisting of me and Oren, Acacia, Amber and Andy, and our Crushpad friend James) sorting the heck out of the Syrah. In truth, these were some gorgeous, clean grapes: hardly any raisins to pick out, a couple leaves here and there, absolutely no lizards (sadly; that would have been cool). The Syrah came in super sweet and juicy, which we know because we ate about a vine’s worth and because they squished delightfully when chucked at Andy’s head (he was rooting for the Rockies).
Amber and Andy sorting
Because the grapes were so juicy and fragile, we decided to do only the first stort for big leaves, sticks and animals and to skip the secondary sort for jacks. That way, we could reduce berry breakage and get closer to our goal of 30% crushed and 70% whole berries in the ferment. A second sort wasn’t necessary anyway, since the destemmer had no problem pulling the loosely hanging grapes, sans jacks, off their stems.
Sarah, a.k.a. Rake Wench
Oren also did a little bit of manual crushing (ie, beating up grapes with a stick) to get our percentages just right. The grape skin is what gives the wine most of its color, aroma, and flavor, and it contains nice soft tannins. Grape seeds also contain tannins, but these are much harsher and you might not want them mixing in with your juice for the entire fermentation. Using a higher percentage of whole berries in your fermentation keeps some of those seed tannins from showing their stuff because they’re trapped inside the grapes, but the skin tannins and colors get to shine through. That’s why it’s important to know your whole/crushed berry percentages.
Team Zebra, post-sort (more on Zebra later…)
Now, the Syrah is off to do a cold soak for a few days. The soak will extract extra color from the skins as the cold temperature keeps away spontaneous fermentation. After that, it’s fermenting time! Bubbling vats of gurgling juice, mmm. I hope to post some graphs shortly so you can follow along with the fermentation.
Also, we made a video of the sort and a little Sarah-Oren spontaneous interview, which I’ll post up here as soon as it’s available.
P.S. Go Red Sox! You know, most people consider beer the Beverage of Baseball, but really, I think wine pairs well with any sporting event. In fact, I’d like to see more wine at baseball games. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Red wine, red sox: It’s only natural.