White wines are easy but some reds are worth it
I ordered wine grapes yesterday – 100 lb (about 45.5 kg) of Chardonnay and 100 lb of Merlot. That should yield about 5 gallons (19 liters), each, of finished wine. This will be the third time I’ve ordered wine grapes from my local homebrew shop, but the first time I’ve ordered red wine grapes from them. That’s because I’m relying on them to crush and press for me. Since I’ll be pressing the red grapes after they’ve fermented for a few days, I’ll have to load up the fermenter, all 100 lb of it, and haul it back to the homebrew shop to have it pressed. This two step process makes red wine more of a hassle than white, but this year I decided that the high-maintenance red was worth it.
Merlot: Red wine with a home state connection
There were several other choices of red wine grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger, and Syrah. I chose Merlot because it’s become associated with Washington state in a way the others haven’t. Just as Oregon is becoming known for it’s Pinot Noir, Washington is making a name for itself with Merlot. What other grape would a Washington Winemaker choose for his first red?
Chardonnay: A white wine grape that grows in the Puget Sound AVA
As much as I’ve been taken in by the promise and allure of a good Merlot this year, I couldn’t bring myself to halt my affair with white wines. They’re easier, cheaper, and terrific when young. Don’t be fooled, though, a well made white can age gracefully into a sophisticated and elegant wine. I could have chosen many different white wine grapes too. I passed up Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Gewürztraminer for Chardonnay. I’ve made Sauvignon Blanc twice before and loved it, and I’m curious about blending it with Semillon. Gewürztraminer is a parent of Siegerrebe, which I grow in my bonsai vineyard, so I’d like to try that one day. I chose Chardonnay because it is grown commercially in the Puget Sound region, and I intend to grow it myself.
Merlot, and Chardonnay – the choices are made and the grapes have been ordered. Now all I have to do is wait.
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