My career has been one of analysis. Yes, I’m one of those analytical types who dissects much of his daily experience into subjects for further investigation. Never could really get the hang of politics, religion or film criticism, but I do take an almost indecent interest in the technical workings of things. That curiosity led me into a career as a Ph.D. analytical chemist – and ultimately, into wine analysis, and making products for that endeavor.
As a 20-year veteran amateur winemaker, I knew there were better ways for home winemakers (and small wineries) to get the basic chemistry information they need for their craft. High on the “annoyance list was sulfite analysis. From desperately slogging my way through color test strips and unreliable Ripper set-ups, both commercial and homemade, I was motivated to find a better way to get that information. Keep Reading More!
Do you want to take your winemaking to the next level? We hope you already measure important parameters like free SO2 (sulfites), pH, titratable acidity and malic acid, but residual sugar has always been tricky, expensive, and/or subjective when trying to get a quantitative answer. Now Vinmetrica introduces its NEW Residual Sugar reagent kit. Using the pH meter you already have, you can now get accurate and reliable residual sugar data. Keep Reading More!
Do you wait for the completion of Malolactic fermentation before adding sulfite to your wine? This reduces the overall acidity of your wine, leading to a smooth, softer mouth feel and a pleasant complexity in nose and taste. If malic acid levels are not reduced below around 0.1 g/L, there is significant risk that fermentation will start up again in the bottle, popping corks and/or making that beautiful red you so lovingly put up in your cellar turn fizzy! So it’s important to have accurate information on your malic acid levels. Keep Reading More!
The beauty of winemaking is that no matter which side of your brain you use more often, it encompasses both; bringing together the art and the science of winemaking. But here is the real question. How many of our readers make their wine in a scientific fashion? Noting every single detail about your sulfite levels, color of your wine, the taste, the smell and even the location it is stored in? Or are you the type of winemaker that adds sulfite without measuring or doesn’t take notes and just does “what the wine tells them to do”? Keep Reading More!
Sulfur Dioxide, or SO2, is a chemical compound used by winemakers to help keep their wine protected from the negative effects of oxygen exposure as well as spoilage microorganisms. Free SO2 is important for determining preservation ability. Total SO2 is not as important for home winemakers because it is usually measured to fulfill export regulatory requirements. Regular testing for Free SO2 allows for the winemaker to make the necessary additions to the wine to avoid spoilage. Vinmetrica’s SC-100A and SC-300 test for not only Free SO2 but Total SO2 as well, when you purchase separately our 1N NaOH solution. For more information about Free SO2 and Total SO2, check out this link to the MoreWine article: SO2 Management by Shea A.J. Comfort. http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/so2.pdf
We’ve been getting a lot of buzz from cider makers the past few weeks asking if our units can test SO2 levels in cider, and they do! We have several customers that use our various instruments to test their cider for SO2 with great success. Using the same method as found in our product manuals, you can test your cider for SO2 the same way you would test your wine!
How does the Vinmetrica SC-300 SO2 and pH/TA Analyzer Kit compare to other Free SO2 testers on the market? Daniel Pambianchi has done some benchmark comparisons between several Free SO2 testers available. He has created a full report outlining the methods, results and his conclusions. Thank you Daniel for your report. We are happy to share this with our customers. Keep Reading More!
By now you may have heard that we just released our newest product, the SC-50 MLF Analyzer. We have been working on this for nearly two years, mainly to be sure that the product is easy to use, reliable and accurate. The approach we took was to have the device measure the increase in CO2 pressure that occurs when malic acid is converted to lactic acid, a process we call ‘Biopressure’. This increase in pressure is then converted to an electrical current that the SC-100 or -300 SO2 analyzers can pick up and display. Pretty simple really, but the devil is in the details as they say. And quite honestly we expect the methods (but not the hardware) to improve over time as we learn new ways to make it even faster to use.
(Chemical Structure of l-Malic Acid)
They idea of using pressure to measure malic acid in wine is not new in itself. Over 50 years ago, George Kolar of the Australian Wine Research Institute published an article entitled “Manometric Determination of l(—) Malic Acid in Grape Musts and Wines”* that described a method adapted from earlier biochemical research. This method was adopted widely during the 60s, but was eventually displaced by other analytical techniques, most notably the paper and liquid chromatographic methods, and enzymatic spectrometric assays. All of these later methods were either simpler (paper chromatography) or more accurate and suitable for commercial laboratory use. In contrast, the manometric (i.e., based on measuring gas pressure) method, while sensitive and accurate, involved complex glassware and a good deal of professional training to execute.
We believe that the SC-50 incorporates 21st century technology that makes it a pretty good manometric device that is easy to use; the Biopressure agents, reagents, and methods we have developed over the the last 2 years give Dr. Kolar’s technique an entirely new lease on life. You should be able to complete a few or a few dozen tests in 30 minutes, something that would have taken him (or probably his graduate student, poor soul) hours and hours, 50 years ago.
*Am. J. Enol. Vitic 1962 vol. 13 no. 3 99-104 http://www.ajevonline.org/content/13/3/99.abstract
Vinmetrica specializes in wine testing equipment, but did you know that our instruments can also be used for beer making as well as distilling spirits? During the distillation of whiskey, the water used is the most crucial liquid used for production. It is vital to have water at the proper pH in order to smoothly run through the distillation process of mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation. All good whiskeys start with the use of good quality water. The water needs to be at the proper pH, lower than pH 7, which is crucial for starch conversion. A distiller must also monitor the pH of the mash. The American Distilling Institute discusses the importance of obtaining and using a good pH meter in their paper, The Craft of Distilling Whiskey (http://www.distilling.com/PDF/craftbook.pdf).
A few months ago a customer purchased one of our SC-200 Kits in the hopes of using it for his up and coming distillery located in Berthoud, Colorado. Being in the heart of one of the largest craft/micro-brewing regions in the United States, the opening of K J Wood Distillers was a nice change and the owner, John Wood, was very welcoming. We always like checking in with our customers but the opportunity to visit one was a special treat. Their grand opening celebration took place on June 27th at their distillery. They offered several types of Gin cocktails ranging from a cucumber soda fizz to a cocktail with habanero peppers. I have never actually tried Gin but have heard that it can be a bit hard to drink. Their “Jinn Gin” was phenomenal. Yes, phenomenal!
During the celebration I was introduced to John’s neighbor who owns a winery, Sweetheart City Wines. After some casual discussion about wineries and wine-making in general, I was taken into his winery itself and given the grand tour. Come to find out he is one of our original customers and owns the original model of the SC-100. These two neighbors both own Vinmetrica SC series systems! One for a winery and one for a distillery. What are the chances of that?
Taylor had a wonderful time visiting K J Wood Distillers and seeing Colorado. I can’t wait to try the whiskey and I hope that their Vinmetrica SC-200 helps them make the best whiskey out there. Thank you to all our customers; from the wineries to the distilleries.
Vinmetrica knows what it takes to make a great wine; it takes hard work and proper testing techniques. Eventually we all learn how to become sommeliers, because, let’s face it, we all like to taste test our wine too! We started Vinmetrica with a desire to make quality devices for wine makers that are accurate, easy to use, and affordable. This stemmed from the fact that we are wine makers ourselves. We have been making wine for many years and we decided to enter two of our wines in the wine competition at the San Diego County Fair.
Our 2009 Merlot was made at home as our first trial with Oak barrels from grapes grown in El Dorado County. This wine received the Silver medal from the San Diego County fair. Our 2011 Merlot was made here at Vinmetrica using grapes from Ramona Valley. We were awarded the gold medal and were given the honor of being the “Best in Class” this year. We attribute our success to regularly testing for sulfite and other analyses for both wines. Rich was surprised and thrilled at the news!
The awards ceremony was on June 29th where Rich received his awards. He was able to taste some of the 300 highly qualified entries in the competition as well as taste locally made cheese. The event was well organized and it was great to see some of our customers thriving in the competition.
We hope to see you all again next year!