What do these Iowa white wines—Brianna, Edelweiss, La Crescent, La Crosse, and St. Pepin—have in common with a graduated cylinder and a beaker? At a recent Harvest Club White Wine Blending Event, these were the components participants used to blend their own unique white wine.
This Harvest Club members only event began in the lower level of Tassel Ridge Winery, with Jonita Boyer, Cellar Specialist, and Stevie Nelson, Tasting Room Staff, giving instructions to the eight individuals who attended this first-ever white wine blending event. It started with the five Iowa wines available to taste, allowing participants to choose their favorites. These wines were in the “raw” form, meaning they were unfiltered and nothing had been added (e.g. sugar) nor were they combined with another wine. Each wine had slightly different TA (titratable acidity—how much acid by weight is in the wine), pH (strength of the acid), and alcohol levels.
After the wines were chosen, the participants were instructed to start experimenting. Each person had a 100ml cylinder to blend two or more of the Iowa wines, such as combining Brianna, St. Pepin, and LaCrescent together. The goal was to have the different wine concentrations equal 100ml, while finding a combination that was pleasing to the person making it—thus creating his/her own special wine.
While working with these dry wines, participants discovered that the best way to offset the acid found in the different varieties was to add sugar. The trick was to figure out how much. A specified amount of sugar (e.g. one gram) was added to the wine, which was poured into a beaker, and then that beaker was set on an electric stirrer, which mixed it up. The range went from ½ gram (not enough) to 10 grams (too much). After some trial and error, several chose one or two grams of sugar to be added to their wine, while others added more, such as four grams. As Bob Wersen, founder and owner of Tassel Ridge Winery, commented, “Sugar isn’t always bad. A little bit can take the edge off of the acid.”
As the wine experimenting continued, Jonita or Stevie would ask participants if they had figured out a likeable combination. One person replied, “I’m trying to decide between my first and second choices. It’s a showdown!” Another said with a smile, “I nailed it! Don’t mess with a good thing!”
Several made the comment that they felt like scientists as they were measuring with the graduated cylinder and beaker. “I added a little sugar to my third creation—I’m a mini scientist!”
After approximately two hours of experimenting, decisions had to be made as to which combination was their favorite. Once that was determined, Jonita and Stevie created individual bottles of wine with the desired combinations. Each bottle was labeled with an authentic Tassel Ridge Winery label.
Some of the chosen combinations of wine included:
- Edelweiss, La Crescent, and Brianna with 4½ grams of sugar
- Pepin and La Crescent with ½ gram of sugar
- Pepin, Brianna, and Edelweiss with 4 grams of sugar
- Brianna, La Crosse, St. Pepin, and La Crescent with 1 gram of sugar
- Brianna, St. Pepin, and La Crosse with 2 grams of sugar
- Brianna, La Crosse, and St. Pepin with 4 grams of sugar
As they were reviewing the different combinations, Bob told the group that this wine needed to be drank fairly soon and someone responded with a laugh, “Like tonight!”
In summing up the afternoon, one said, “This was amazing!” while another said, “This was fun!” And another added, “I think it’s a great idea mixing your own wine.” Everyone seemed to agree it was an interesting afternoon.
A red wine blending event—again for Harvest Club members only—is being considered for a future date.