Making An Early Drinking Wine What is your advice?
It is quite common over the years to have to deal with this subject. The conversation usually occurs when a new winemaker who joins us asks what should they make for their first time wines in the hobby. As emails go out to members on potential varietals being considered and/or a new winemaker attends a Westchester Amateur Winemakers Club tasting dinner, the new wine maker often gets either confused as to what to make or, you can’t blame them, decide they want to make a Beckstoffer or a Lanza Cabernet.
This is when I have to add a little perspective to the new winemaker’s decision making process. The conversation usually goes like this. So I ask, well what do you want to make? The answer is usually, “I really like Cabernet Sauvignon”. My next question is, “that’s great but what do you want to drink during the first year in which you made wine?” Puzzlement on the face is the usual reaction. I go on further, “Are you prepared to get involved with barrels at this time?” The answer is usually, “well I wasn’t thinking about that for this year, do I really need a barrel?”
I then try to make the entire affair somewhat easier. First you are going to be so excited about making wine you are going to want to drink it as soon as possible. This limits the choices of varietals you can choose from. A nice Zinfandel can be enjoyed very early and lately the availability of Lanza/Musto Napa Gamay can be even a better choice. Secondly if you want a longer term wine then you can purchase a small barrel and make an additional amount for that barrel knowing that you won’t be able to drink that for at least 12 months or longer. So if you are planning for a 6 cases of wine to drink you better make 15 gallons of an Early Drinker and 15-30 gallons of wine for a 15 gallon barrel.
I am sure you get the idea.
But what prompted me to write this piece was to see what the experts here think the best way to make an early drinking wine. As I stated two varietals Zinfandel and Napa Gamay are great varietals to choose from but what can one do from there?
For example Try to keep the TA on the low side?. Live with a higher PH?. Don’t use Enzymes? Press Lightly?
What strategies do you think will make an early drinker? I await your thoughts.