How Wine is Made
We know that lots of our customers are avid wine lovers, so today we thought we would give you a brief explanation of how wine is made. Next time you’re hosting a party or tasting a new wine, you’ll be sure to impress your friends with your knowledge!
Grapes are usually harvested in late summer and autumn. Wine grapes are often harvested at night because the temperature in the day can change the sugar composition of the grapes. This might affect the fermentation process. Sparkling wine grapes are harvested first to keep the sugar levels low, followed by white wine grapes and then red wine grapes which take longer to mature.
Whilst harvesting by hand allows selection of the best grapes and can protect against damage, many large vineyards will use mechanical harvesting as it can be quicker and cost-effective.
Crushing and Pressing the Grapes
Crushing the grapes bursts the skins so that the whole grape can be exposed to fermentation. This was historically done by stomping on the grapes with your feet. Now it is usually done by pushing the grapes through a machine. The crush gets the juices of the grapes flowing and allows this to come into contact with the skins. This is essential for red and rose wines but will be avoided for white and most sparkling wines.
The pressing separates the grape juice from the rest of the grape solids. Wineries may use a pneumatic press to make the juice drain out or use the weight of the grapes themselves to cause the juice to run.
Fermentation occurs when sugars and yeast are exposed to each other and it produces alcohol in wine. Crushing the grapes allows the natural sugar found inside to combine with the yeast on the skin. It might take place in stainless steel tanks, open plastic vats or wine barrels. The temperature is closely controlled to ensure that it does not get too high and kill the yeast.
Once fermented, the wine will be clarified to make it clear. The yeast sediment will be removed and a process of fining may take place. This involves adding a substance to collect and remove all of the unwanted particles in the wine. Fining agents include gelatine, isinglass (gelatine derived from fish), egg white, casein (a dairy protein), and bentonite (a clay).
Blending and Aging
The wine will be blended from the different grape varieties required as well as different plots within the vineyard to create the blend required. Some wines may have over 100 base wines blended together. Then the wine will move into the aging stage. Only some wines will benefit from significant aging, whilst others will be better when they are still young. This depends on the variety of grapes and the conditions in which they were grown.
Winemakers may choose to age the wine in the bottle. Alternatively, barrel aging may add flavor to the wine. Oak barrels, for example, can impart vanilla flavors and a silky texture to wines.
Wine is usually poured into bottles by a machine and then sealed with a cork. The corker vacuums the air out of the bottle to remove oxygen which might otherwise break down the wine.
We hope that you have learned some more about how wine is made. Got any questions? Let us know in the comments!
How to Taste Wine
If you love drinking wine, then you may have wondered how to taste wine properly can truly elevate your experience.
How to Taste Wine: Environment
One of the most important things is to create the right environment. Odors such as cooking smells, pets, or perfume will affect the wine’s aroma. Using the wrong glass or serving wine at the incorrect temperature can even affect the wine’s flavor.
Try to move away from anyone wearing strong perfume. It is possible to condition your glass by swilling some wine and pouring it out. Wait for your wine to be the right temperature before serving and eat neutral foods to cleanse your palate.
How to Taste Wine: Look
The first part of tasting wine is to look at it.
Start by observing the color, holding it to the light and noticing the clarity of the wine. Then you swirl your glass, which will increase the surface area of the wine and allow oxygen in. This helps to open up the aromas.
If you notice particularly cloudy wine, you may want to check if it smells bad, as this may be a sign that it is past its best.
Look at the legs of the wine. These are the drips of wine that run down the inside of the glass. If the legs are thick and slow moving this indicates higher alcohol and sugar content, which will usually have a fuller mouthfeel. If you see thinner legs, then this will usually be a lighter wine.
How to Taste Wine: Smell
Sniff the wine several times and then concentrate on all the aromas that you are experiencing. If there is a dusty, leathery, or vinegar smell, then the wine may be past its best. You may recognize floral, fruity, herby, spicy or mineral scents. These come from the grapes themselves.
There are also secondary aromas, which come from the winemaking process. These include smells of cheese rind, nuts or beer, as they usually come from the yeast. Tertiary aromas come from the aging process and might include a scent of toast, smoke or vanilla.
The Final Essential Element: Taste
After observing and smelling, you get to taste the wine! Take a sip and roll it around in your mouth to see what you can taste.
You may notice that different flavors occur during the beginning, middle and end of your drinking experience. You might also notice the texture of the wine. Some will be thin and almost watery, but wines increase in richness as they increase in alcohol.
When you take a second sip of wine, try to draw some air into your mouth, then breath out of your nose. This process will aerate the wine slightly and help you to identify more of the flavors.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our wine tasting tips. Remember that the most important thing is to enjoy your wine and have fun with it. If you want to try tasting different wines with different cheeses, why not pick up our White Wine Collection or Red Wine Collection?
Our Top 10 Wines for Valentine’s Day
We know that you’re going to be trying to impress your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. We shared some of our great gift ideas last week, so today we’re sharing our top ten wines to serve on the day. We’ve looked for wines that will pair well with luxurious ingredients, fruity desserts, and chocolate. Whether you’re planning a romantic dinner, a day out or a simple drink, we’ve got you covered.
Of course, this had to be top of the list. Nothing says romance like bubbles and the pop of a cork. Pick something vintage if you really want to impress. Toast your special someone with the very best.
Pink is the perfect color for Valentine’s Day. Pick a fruity rosé with hints of strawberry to set the tone. The Mouton Noir Rosé Love Drunk from Oregon has the perfect name for such a loved up day. This is the wine to drink if you’re serving salads, pasta, or even sushi.
An alternative to champagne, crémant is also made in France and is starting to become really popular elsewhere. It has a creamy feel and small, moussey bubbles. It’s great with seafood.
If you’re picking up a red wine, it’s best to go for something fruity and delicious that you can fall in love with. That’s why we recommend a grenache as it’s full-bodied as well as flavorful. It’s perfect with spicy foods or rich, meaty dishes.
5. Sparkling rosé
Combine two of our favorites and sip on a sparkling rosé! This is perfect if it’s cold where you are and you need something to remind you of summer. Sparkling rosé is great with smoked salmon and soft cheeses.
Serve up something sweet with this dessert wine originating from France. The honey and raisin flavors sit perfectly with creamy desserts and you can even pour it over ice cream.
If you’re looking for an after-dinner drink with a little less sweetness, pick a port. If you’re new to it, try a tawny port as it won’t be too rich. You can sip this alongside chocolate or salted caramel.
8. Sparkling Red
You might not have tried a sparkling red wine before, but trust us when we say that they really are a treat. You’ll get the wonderful fizz of champagne with a light fruitiness. This is perfect if you and your partner usually differ in your wine tastes. There are several great ones from California and they pair brilliantly with chocolate.
9. Sauvignon Blanc
If you want to serve a more recognizable wine, a sauvignon blanc will pair well with the fruity flavors of many Valentine’s foods. Serve it with a plate of oysters for extra indulgence.
10. Something local
If you’re looking to show your wine knowledge, choose something local to you. Head to a winery in your area and ask them to help you pick something out. Your date will be head over heels after learning that you went to so much effort.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Shisler’s Cheese House! Cheers!
Find the Perfect Gifts at Shisler’s Cheese House
Trying to find a gift for that person who has everything? Perhaps you’re heading to the family for the holidays and want to take them a gift to say thank you?
We know how tricky that can be, which is why we put together our gifts boxes. No-one can resist the joy of cheeses, jams, and charcuterie. Take along a bottle of wine and you’re sure to be invited back next year!
Read on to find out all about what’s inside two of our favorite gift boxes and how you can pair them with the perfect wines.
Our Amish Cheese and Goodies collection is a perfect gift for your loved ones this Christmas.
You’ll find a 1Lb. Baby Swiss Wheel, a summer sausage link, a ¾ Lb. wheel each of Colby and Pepper Jack cheese, Shisler’s Private Label Mustard, home style Amish jam, Carr’s crackers, assorted chocolates and 6oz. REACH coffee.
Colby Cheese is very mild and creamy, so it pairs well with light, unoaked white wines such a Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. For red wines, you also want to aim for something light such as a fruity pinot noir.
You might be thinking that it’s impossible to pair a wine with a spicy cheese like Pepper Jack, but you’ll be pleased to find that a rosé will have the sweetness and strawberry flavors to complement the cheese.
One of our other great gifts is the Troyer’s Trail Bologna and Cheese box.
Inside you will find a 1Lb. Troyer’s Trail Bologna ring, a ¾ Lb. wheel each of Colby and Farmer’s cheese and assorted chocolates.
With Farmer’s cheese, try a Riesling or a sweet dessert such as Muscat. The peach tones will sit perfectly with the mild creaminess of the cheese.
You can even find a wine to go with Bologna. We recommend a Malbec which is robust enough to sit alongside the smoky Troyer’s Trail Bologna.
For the sweet-toothed person, you can also find a wine to go with the chocolates. The general rule for this will always be to find a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate. Try dark chocolate with a Merlot and milk chocolate with Sauternes.
We all know someone who really loves cheese, and that’s why we created the Cheese Lover’s Gift Box. This contains a ¾ Lb. wheel each of Cheddar, Cojack, Farmer’s Cheese and Pepper Jack, along with some assorted chocolates. You can see our wine recommendations for Farmer’s Cheese and Pepper Jack above.
Cheddar is a versatile cheese so it stands up alongside lots of different wines. Some of our favorites are an oaky Chardonnay that will bring out the mellowness of the cheese or a vintage port for a real Christmas treat. If you’re presenting to this to someone who isn’t a wine lover, a hard cider or beer will go well with Cheddar.
Try Cojack with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, as the slightly spicy, peppery notes of the wine will perfectly complement the mild cheese.
Don’t delay, order your gift boxes today!
White Wine Collection – Perfect Cheese Pairings for your Favorite Whites
We previously told you all about some of the best cheeses in our Red Wine Collection.
Today, we are going to take you through our White Wine Collection. We’ll show you all of the cheese and offer wine pairing ideas. This collection comes with ample cheeses to serve up to 20 guests. If you’re having a huge celebration this year, why not get both?
Amish Butter Cheese
This is one of our premium local, Ohio cheeses. Amish Butter Cheese is rich and creamy; it certainly lives up to the ‘butter’ in its name! This is a pale cow’s milk cheese with a similar flavor to Havarti. It is ideal for melting, as a snack cheese or as part of a cheeseboard.
An ideal pairing for such a smooth cheese is a glass of Chardonnay. The rich, golden wine with hints of vanilla will sit perfectly with your Amish Butter Cheese.
Wisconsin Brick Cheese
An American original, Wisconsin Brick Cheese is medium-soft, slightly sticky, and crumbles easily. It starts with a sweet, mild flavor, and matures into a strong, ripe cheese. The cheese curds are pressed with clay-fired bricks into a brick-shaped cheese, hence its name.
Try your Wisconsin Brick Cheese with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. This is a full, fruity wine with flavors of citrus, tropical fruits, and floral notes. This will add flavor when eating a young brick cheese, whilst standing up to the strength of an aged cheese.
Gouda is a yellow cow’s milk cheese with a wax coating. It undergoes a process known as “washing the curd”. The milk is heated until the curd separates from the whey, some of the whey is drained, and water is added. This creates a sweeter cheese because of the removal of some of the lactic acid. Gouda originates in the Netherlands, and ours is imported from there, so you know you are getting an authentic cheese.
Gouda’s caramel sweetness, along with a slightly crunchy salt, make it a very versatile cheese for drinks pairings. For white wine pairings, you might find, like some of our other cheeses, that Chardonnay works well. However, if you want to try a variety of wines, then a Pinot Grigio pairs well with Gouda. This light, fruity wine won’t overpower the cheese but will enhance its honey tones.
Amish Country Swiss Cheese
Our Amish Swiss Cheese is made in Pearl Valley, Ohio and we truly believe that it’s the best. It has a nutty, bittersweet taste and the recognizable holes that we expect from Swiss cheese. These are created by natural bacteria used in the process of making the cheese. They consume the lactic acid in the cheese and release carbon dioxide gas which forms bubbles and creates the perfectly round holes.
For wine pairings, try going back to the cheese’s European roots with a Gewürztraminer. This is an aromatic wine that will complement the nuttiness of the cheese. Sometimes it has a little ‘spritz’ to it which gives it a lightness and makes it perfect for a celebration.
If you want to add some extra cheeses to your white wine pairing board, then Gruyere, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Provolone are all great options.
Pick up our White Wine Collection today!
Cheesemaking: How To Make Cabra Al Vino
What You Need
3 Gallons of Goat’s Milk (not Ultra-Pasteurized)
1/8 tsp MA4002 Culture*
1/8 tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)
What To Do
1. The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 95F To do this, place the milk in a container and then place it in a large pot of very warm water. If you heat it on the stove, be sure to heat it slowly and stir it as it heats if you heat it on the stove.
After heating the milk, the culture can be added. The powder can become very cakey and sink in clumps so to prevent this, sprinkle the culture over the surface of the milk and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the powder to re-hydrate before you stir it in. After stirring, let the milk sit for a further hour so that the culture can get to work.
2. After an hour of ripening, add 1/8 tsp. single strength liquid rennet. Stir the rennet in for about a minute in a slow up and down motion. The rennet will begin to coagulate the curd, let it sit for 90 minutes. You will see the milk thicken after around 40-45 minutes, but it still needs the full 90 minutes for a proper curd to form.
One way to check for a good curd, insert a knife into the curd at a 45-degree angle and lift slowly until the curd breaks. The edges should break cleanly and the whey that will rise should be clear, not cloudy.
3. It is now time to cut the curds and cook them. Cut the curd vertically in both directions, at about 3/4-1/2 inch then let it sit for 5 minutes.
The second cut should be horizontal with a spoon or flat ladle and then cut slowly to a pea size, taking about 10 minutes.
Remove 30% of the whey after allowing the curd to settle.
Add back some water at a temperature of 110F slowly to heat curds to 97F over 10 minutes.
Stir the curd for 30-40 minutes to achieve a moderately firm curd.
The final curds should be cooked well through. Examine them to make sure enough moisture has been removed. A broken curd should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when you press them in between your fingers.
The curds should be allowed to settle under the whey when this point has reached.
4A. The basket molds which should have been previously sanitized can now be put on a draining surface but with no cloth.
Remove the whey down to just above the curd surface and begin transferring the curds to the molds. Use moderate hand pressure for a firm pack into the molds.
You should stack the two molds for a moderate amount of weight.
Continue to do this for 30 minutes with no cloth and weight by simply reversing and restacking the molds after 15 minutes.
4B. After 30 minutes, turn the cheese in the molds with no cloth.
Now stack 2 high and weight at 5-7lbs for 30 minutes. Turn in the molds and re-wrap in cloth using the same weight and time as above.
Make sure you keep the curd warm at 75-80F. You can do this by insulating with a thick towel. This needs to be done because the bacteria are still working and producing acid from the remaining lactose.
Turn the cheese again in the cloth and stack the molds 2 high, weighted at 15lbs. Turn and re-wrap at 30-minute intervals for the next 4 hours.
You can now press the cheese for about 5 hours and by this time it should have reached its final acid level and moisture. If you have a pH meter, the final reading should show 5.2. Remove the weights when it reads this and you will now be ready to salt the cheese in a brine bath.
5. Now it is time for the salting. So, remove the cheese from the cloth and they will be ready to go into the brine at 52F.
The final cheese weight will be approximately 1.5lbs each which makes the final brine time 5.5 hours.
You will need a saturated brine prepared for salting the cheese, here is a simple brine formula:
– 1 gallon of water
– 2.25 lbs of salt
– 1tbs. calcium chloride
– 1 tsp. white vinegar
– Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.
The cheese will float above the surface so please be sure to sprinkle a small amount of salt on top of the cheese surface. Flip the cheese halfway through the brine period and sprinkle some salt on the other surface too.
Wipe down the surface at the end of the brine period and let the surface dry for a day or two at around 52F and 85% moisture.
6. It is now time to finish this cheese with a traditional twist. You will soak the cheese in wine for several days which will increase the surface acidity substantially and make it less hospitable for mold growth and hence less work in the aging room.
Two pieces of cheese will fit comfortably in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag and a small amount of wine will do just fine to soak the cheese in. Be sure to squeeze out the excess air and zip the bag closed.
Wash the surface with the light brine to remove any surface mold that developed and rehydrate the surface, before you soak the cheese in wine.
A Vino is recommended for this, Petit Sirag grape in particular. Use about 12-16 ozs of the wine and then you can happily drink the rest.
Pour the wine into the bag with the cheese and then squeeze the air out before sealing the bag.
After soaking, you can age the cheese in the bag in an aging room at 52F for 36 hours, turning several times.
Now you can remove the cheese from the bag, wipe down the surface and dry it off for 24 hours. Allow for the first dose of wine to migrate into the cheese before the second wine soaking.
Finally, repeat the wine soak for another 48 hours and turn it regularly.
7. After all the soaking, age the cheese at 52-56F and 80-85% moisture.
Age the cheese for 4-6 weeks at which point, it will be ready to consume.
There will be very little mold growth on the surface.
A fine dusting of white mold shows up every 3 or so days, it will just need a quick cloth wipe to remove it.
All About Chardonnay!
If you’re a lover of wine, you’ve most likely had a glass of Chardonnay at some point in your life. However, the Chardonnay you most recently tried is probably a lot different to the one your friend drinks after work. This is because Chardonnay can vary so much as it is the most versatile varieties in the entire world. It has a rich history and flavor profile which ranges at every point of the spectrum. Even though it is one of the most popular varieties in the world, it can be one of the hardest to understand and wrap your mind around.
Here is everything you have ever wondered about Chardonnay:
Where does Chardonnay come from?
Chardonnay’s origin is in the eastern part of France- Burgundy. It is known as the best region for growing the variety, in the world.
Is Chardonnay a grape or a region?
It is a green-skinned grape variety that is used to create white wines in regions all around the world.
Where is Chardonnay grown?
Every wine-producing region of the world grows Chardonnay currently. A lot of the popular regions are Burgundy, California, Austrailia and Washington, even though the grape is also grown in many other regions.
Where are the most renowned regions for Chardonnay?
The most renowned region is believed to be its birthplace-Burgundy. It produces the best Chardonnay in the world, notably within the Chablis and Côte de Beaune areas. In Côte de Beaune, many Grands Crus, such as Montrachet, Corton, and Charlemagne, are some of the most highly regarded Chardonnay.
What is the difference between Burgundy and Chablis?
Chablis is a wine district situated within the Burgundy region. It is the northernmost zone in Burgundy and Chardonnay produced in Chablis has much more acidity, wet rock notes, and less fruity flavors than Chardonnay grown in warmer areas like Côte de Beaune.
What kind of wine does Chardonnay make?
Chardonnay is commonly known for its dry white wines that again, are all over the spectrum in flavor. It can range from super high-acid to rich, full-bodied wines, that’s what makes Chardonnay so diverse and unique.
What is Oak Chardonnay?
During the end of the 20h century, “butter bomb” Chardonnay became increasingly popular, which meant taking the juice and aging it in new oak to impart creamy, “buttery” flavors. However, in today’s society, the love for Oak Chardonnay is declining, with people gravitating more towards balanced bottles.
How much does Chardonnay cost?
The cost can range all over the spectrum, with the cheapest bottles being as little as $5 and bottles like Grands Crus going for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
10 Of The Best Mother’s Day Wines
Mother’s Day is fast approaching and it is the one day of the year which is dedicated to pampering moms everywhere… Also, a great excuse to drink lots of wine!
Choosing a bottle of wine doesn’t always mean picking the most expensive bottle. If you’re picking some wine for your mom, the best thing to do is find out what she loves best. It can range from aromatic white and crisp sparkling wines to refreshing rosés and silky reds. Either way, this list is sure to please any mom who deserves the best:
Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Rosé
This wine is a signature sparkling wine of Italy’s Lombardy region, Franciacorta is made in the same way that champagne is. The reason it has ’61 in the name is because Guido Berlucchi began producing the style in 1961, and has remained the leader of the region ever since. It is a beautiful salmon pink wine with flavors or lemon, strawberry, and berry. It is a refined, medium-bodied sparkling wine and pairs very well with shellfish and aged cheeses.
Rack & Riddle North Coast Blanc de Blancs
Rack & Riddle is a special wine as it is part of the handful of wineries in California that still use the méthode champenoise, which is a traditional French process which is used to produce sparkling wine. The attention to detail that this winery employs is definitely noticeable within the taste of North Coast Blanc de Blancs. This sparkling wine is full of bright and fruity aromas of melon and green apple, along with strong complimenting flavors of lemon curd and lime to reserve a smooth and crisp finish.
Smith-Madrone 2013 Riesling
Smith-Madrone 2013 Riesling originates from terroir in which the winemaker Stuart Smith purchased back in 1971. The Smith-Madrone vineyards have been producing grapes perfect for crafting German and French style wines. This particular wine has intense aromas of stone fruit, honeysuckle, and white flower. It also has notes of citrus and stone fruit in its flavor which is rounded out by a creamy finish.
Cherry Tart 2013 Chardonnay
This delicious type of Chardonnay is a blend of grapes from the Cherry Pie winery. The winery has three vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Monterey counties. It is 100 percent Chardonnay which has a strong aroma of white fruit and flower. The taste is rich with notes of marzipan, pineapple, and caramelized pear, there is also a hint of oak throughout.
Whitehaven 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
This white wine is quintessentially Marlborough in its aromas and flavors. It is a medium-bodied wine with notes of gooseberry, peach, and herbs in its aroma and intense tropical fruit and citrus flavors on the palate. Because of its hand-harvested grapes which are grown in the warm New Zealand Climate, it is vibrant, acidic and crisp.
Columbia Winery 2013 Columbia Valley Merlot
This wine is deep red colored and produced from volcanic soil of central Washington. It boasts fragrant aromas of spice and plum along with dark berry and vanilla. A great pairing with wine would be poultry because of its vivid acidity.
Regusci Winery 2012 Matrona Red Wine
It takes its name from the Italian word for “matriarch” and is crafted in honor of Livia Regusci who was the founding mother of the historic family ranch. This red is more of a vintage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in which it offers rich fragrances of cherry and berries. The berry flavors are also a big part of the taste, along with delicious notes of dark chocolate and coffee beans.
Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2013 Winemaker’s Cuvée Pinot Noir
Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2013 Winemaker’s Cuvée Pinot Noir is a delicious blend of grapes from Falcon Glen, Lazy River, and Russell Grooters vineyards. Not only that, but this Pinot Noir is aged for 15 months in French Oak barrels and is most desirable after being in the bottle for more than 2 years. Its notes of cherry aroma and flavors of strawberry and rhubarb are pleasure in a glass.
Solace 2014 Rosé
This is another wine in which is produced using the French méthode provençale, which the process entails red grapes being grown and harvested solely for the production of the rosé. On the nose, the aromas are strong with notes of white flower and some peach. With juicy flavors of raspberry, strawberry ad melon, this wine is a delicious refresher.