Amateur Winemaking Round 3: Super Teaneck In The Works

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Back in September I bought a host of materials to try my hand at home winemaking. This is not my first time trying to make wine at home but I am hoping to be more successful this time around. I first made wine in my home in 2006. It was not a huge hit but the experience was fun. Like all beginners, I ran out and bought all the fancy equipment I could. It was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The next year, 2007, I made a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon hence my title, Super Teaneck, the location where this wine was being made. A take off on the “Super-Tuscan” tradition, my wines were nothing like those elixirs. The only thing they had in common other than the grape varieties used was too much oak. Of course I am not saying all Super Tuscans have too much oak but some do.

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I went to the halls of Paradise for New Jersey homewinemakers, Corrado’s. Corrado’s is right out of central casting as are many of the people who work and shop there. I love it. Eros Ramazzotti or some Italian crooner of his ilk are playing in the background, Italian men work to help you buy the right equipment and many customers are of course, Italian Americans who have been making wine at home for generations.

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When people ask me how I got into wine, I always recount the story that my Dad made wine in our basement with our neighbor who happened to be from Ragusa, Carmelo. My Dad maintains that their Zinfandel based wine was delicious. I don’t remember it to be honest but it was a formative experience in terms of family lore.

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Despite studying wine for over 20 years now and being in the business for 10, I was pretty intimidated buying grapes this time around. I went ahead with it though and bought Moscato grapes and Zinfandel. The grapes come to Corrado’s from Lodi, California.

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While I have a press, I had them press the grapes at Corrado’s and brought home the juice to ferment in my demi-johns. I left them to ferment on the selected yeast that I bought this time. The previous time, I thought I would use ambient yeast. This time, I thought I will try to go by the book.

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I was the only woman buying grapes that day. Some of the men looked at me in a curious fashion but I think they were more interested in the mini-winemaker I brought with me. At least he’s starting early. My son loved the experience. This weekend, we are going to rack the wine. It’s been 60 days. We will see how they have turned out. I’m not sure about the temperature where they are being kept but I am excited.

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