Many years ago homemakers made a practice of keeping kitchen journals. A lot of information went into those journals, including successfully adapted recipes and the likes and dislikes of guests who were frequently invited to dinner. These kitchen journals made the process of running a kitchen far more efficient.
If you are going to make wine at home, it is a good idea to consider keeping your own wine journal or notebook. One of the keys of producing good wine is being consistent. A wine journal will allow you to do that as well as track your progress as you develop advanced skills. In the beginning your notes may not seem like much; however, over time this information can become extremely valuable. You may think that you will be able to rely on your memory; however, this can be quite dangerous if you want to consistently develop good wines. After a few batches, there is a very good chance that you will forget exactly which details worked best and which you would like to avoid.
The type of information that should be recorded in your journal includes any information that would have an impact on the final outcome. Of course, it is not necessary to list trivial information that will not really have any impact; however, you will definitely want to include information such as the brand of yeast you used and temperature recordings for your wine must.
Other information that should be included in your winemaking journal includes:
How much fruit you used
The type and amount of sugar you used
Amount and type of yeast
Amount and type of nutrients
It is also important to keep specific information about dates as well. You should make a note of when the yeast is put into the must as well as the dates of when rackings are performed. In addition, any time you add ingredients, you should make a note of this as well. Also, be sure to note when you bottle the wine. You may also want to include any information about how the wine looks or even how it tastes when you do a sample taste test.
Hydrometer readings are also critical to the development of any batch of wine so it is a good idea to record those readings and the dates they were taken. Over time, you will be able to gain a lot of insight from the hydrometer readings that you record. Keep in mind that you should take hydrometer readings when the fermentation process is first begun as well as during any rackings. Readings should also be taken at the end of the fermentation process as well. In the event you add any fruit or sugar to the must during the fermentation process, it is also a good idea to take a hydrometer reading before the addition is made as well as after.
Practically anything that you feel comfortable with can be used for your winemaking journal. If you want to keep it simple, consider using something like a spiral composition notebook. The one problem with using this method is that you may find it difficult to keep your notes consistent. To combat this problem you might want to develop your own wine log. This can be easily done using any word processing program on your computer and then printed out and placed in a 3-ring binder. When every page is identical you will have prompts to help you remember the type of information that should be recorded. This type of binder will hold up better over time as well. In addition, depending on the width of the binder, you can easily add more pages as you need without worrying about running out of space.
You may also find it helpful to add other reference information that will be right at your fingertips. For example, you might wish to print off conversion charts and place those in your binders so that you can access the information quickly while working with your wine.