Category Archives: Commercial Wine

Rhubarb Wine In A New Light

Lynfred Rhubarb Wine

The Lady of the House has a sweet tooth, so we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to wine. This sweet rhubarb wine from Lynfred Winery was a big hit with her, but it was also one of the rare sweet wines that was well balanced enough for me – we both loved it!

This wine is different from the dry, aged rhubarb wine that I normally make. Not better or worse, but a very different style. We both liked it, so I’m thinking about making some of my own rhubarb wine in this style. It’s also made me want to make rhubarb wine with no added water.

So the folks at Lynfred made a wine we both like and showed me a new way to make rhubarb wine – great job guys (and gals)! Lynfred is an Illinois winery, so their wines are not widely available here in Washington State. But if it’s available where you live, I highly recommend it.

Rhubarb Wine With No Added Water?

I make rhubarb wine every year. I get about 6 fl oz/lb (400 ml/kg) of juice when I thaw frozen rhubarb, and since I use about 3 lb/gal (360 g/L) of rhubarb I need to add a lot of water. But 6 fl oz/lb scales up to over 4.5 gallons from 100 lb of “fruit.” That’s not far from the yield I expect from grapes, and it made me wonder about making rhubarb wine without added water. When the Lynfred Winery announced a commercial rhubarb wine, I wondered even more. Can commercial wineries add water? I don’t think they can, so I asked them how they made their wine. They were kind enough to explain their method: thaw frozen rhubarb, add sugar to about 20 Brix, then pitch the yeast. No added water and no neutralizing the oxalic acid. They did mention that the wine needed residual sugar to balance the acid.

I think I’m going to need a lot of rhubarb this year … and maybe a bottle of Lynfred’s Rhubarb.

Knowledge is power: What winemakers need to know about rhubarb

For more information about rhubarb, like how acidic is it? how much sugar? and other things winemakers need to know when they make rhubarb wine, see here ~ Know Your Ingredients: Rhubarb.

Update 3/28/2011: Commercial Raspberry Wine is made the same way

Homemade raspberry wine is also made with a small amount of fruit and a lot of water. Why? Rhubarb and raspberries are both highly acidic, so commercial wineries approach raspberry wine the same way Lynfred makes rhubarb wine: All fruit with little or no added water, sugar to bring the must up to wine strength, and sweetening to balance the acidity.

Superbowl Wine?

Football Wine

Red wine and pizza!

Ok, it’s not often you go to a football game and hear one of the vendors bellowing, “Ice cold Chenin Blanc here!” Beer is the beverage of choice for tailgate parties, but wine definitely has it’s place in your Superbowl festivities. What could better with pizza than a full bodied red? It’s pizza with the guys watching the game though, not fancy dress with your significant other, so you don’t want to break the bank. My choice would be Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz, a bargain red that doesn’t taste like a bargain.

A good white for the game

Still whites would be harder to fit into a Superbowl party, but if you like whites stick to full flavored ones like Sauvignon Blanc. I just placed an order for the Viu Manent 2006 Sauvignon Blanc based on a good review. I haven’t tried it yet, but it would be my choice for a still white on game day.

This relaxed sparkling wine won’t disappoint

Sparkling wine seems like on obvious choice, but you shouldn’t waste good wine by shaking the bottle and spraying it on all your friends. For something a little different than Champaign, try Prosecco. It’s an Italian sparkling wine that’s a little sweeter and more fruity than the French variety. A good one to try is il Prosecco, which comes in a distinctive bottle topped with a crown cap (like beer!).

So, by all means, stock up on beer for the Superbowl, but don’t forget the wine.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Edwards who has made it available under the creative commons license – thanks Aaron!

Update 4/19/2010 – Find your own superbowl wine by tasting blind

How do you tell a diamond in the ruff from an overpriced “bargain?” Compare it against a wine you know in a blind tasting. It’s the only way to set aside the mental baggage we all carry and see a wine as it really is. Here’s a quick and easy way to do your own blind tasting at home.

Commercial Cranberry Wine

I just found out that a commercial winery in Washington made a cranberry wine. They were faced with the same high acidity that I discussed a few days ago, and we both used a similar approach to deal with it. They blended with Chardonnay (20% cranberry and 80% Chardonnay), while I “blended” with water (25% cranberry and 75% water). I considered blending with another fruit, but I want my first wine to be just cranberry. The water, which contributes virtually no acidity, allows me to squeeze in a little more cranberry, and I feel a bit better calling the result “cranberry wine.” Once I get that down and find out what cranberry wine tastes like, I can try different blends by substituting other fruit for the water.

Buying Commercial Wine

Consumer Reports and Pacific Northwest Magazine both published lists of recommended wines recently. One Washington State wine made both lists, and that got me curious enough to try it. Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling is described as a “sweet, dessert-style wine with fruit balanced by acid.” A description like that doesn’t exactly make me want to rush out and buy it, but it’s pretty accurate. Here’s what Pacific Northwest Magazine had to say:

Done in a off-dry style, it is bursting with sweet and crisp flavors of green apple, melon and peach , finished with a dollop of honey and orange liqueur.

I don’t know about all that, but it was on sale for $5.99, and I did enjoy the wine. I would say they overdid it with the sugar, but the Lady of the house, bless her little sweet tooth, loved it. Lists like this often come out near the end of the year, and make me want to try new wines – especially the ones on the “Really Good Wines Under $8” list!

Update 4/19/2010 – Blind tastings separate the wheat from the chaff

How do you tell a diamond in the ruff from an overpriced “bargain?” Compare it against a wine you know in a blind tasting. It’s the only way to set aside the mental baggage we all carry and see a wine as it really is. Here’s a quick and easy way to do your own blind tasting at home.