Robust Porter Beer Recipe – with Coconut! (Extract w/ Grains)

Robust Porter BeerRobust porter is a subset of porter and as you may imagine, it tends to be stronger and more flavorful than a standard brown porter. Still, it embodies the key aspects of porter: brown to dark brown, showcasing balanced malt flavors and aromas reminiscent of caramel, chocolate, and coffee. Though robust porter beer recipe may have a little more roasted malt than a regular porter, it falls short of being as roasty as a stout.

Based on the just released 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines, one might reclassify a robust porter as an American porter. Unlike English porters, American porters tend to be stronger in alcohol and hop character than their English counterparts. Alcohol content may be as high as 7% ABV, while hop bitterness can range from 25-50 IBUs. In terms of hop flavor and aroma, the American versions tend to exhibit more of both, often using American-grown hops. The hop flavor and aroma can range from fairly subtle to fairly aggressive – the level of hoppiness you want is up to you, but if you intend to enter the beer into competition be sure not to go overboard.

If you want to go to the next level, you can try what Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing Company does to their robust porter beer recipe. Their “Coco Loco” porter, brewed with toasted coconut, won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the Robust Porter category. Try putting 0.5 lb. toasted coconut in the secondary fermenter for a few days to a week. Use a straining bag and a sanitized shot glass or spoon to weigh the bag down.

Happy brewing!


Robust Porter Beer Recipe – with Coconut!
(5-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

OG: 1.055
FG: 1.017
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 40
SRM: 32

6.6 lbs. Briess dark liquid malt extract
0.75 lb. light dry malt extract
0.5 lb. caramel 60L malt
0.25 lb. chocolate malt
Shop Steam Freak Kits0.25 lb. black malt
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
1 oz. Fuggles hops at :20
1 packet Safebrew S-33
corn sugar for priming
bottle caps

Heat 6 gallons of chlorine-free water to 150˚F. Place crushed specialty grains in a muslin grain bag and steep in the water for 30 minutes. Remove grains, allowing wort to drip back into the pot. Mix in malt extracts and bring wort to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. At the end of the boil, chill wort to about 70˚F and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast and ferment at 68˚F for seven to ten days. Transfer to a secondary fermenter and add the coconut. After a few days to a week, bottle and age at room temperature for 3-4 weeks and enjoy!

Do you have a robust porter beer recipe you’d like to share? Just add it to the comments below…
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

It’s All About The Grape!

Napa Valley Grapes MalbecI was talking to one of our customers on the phone, yesterday. We got to talking about the different homemade wine kits he’s made over the last few years. He mentioned how he used to make wine using ingredient kits from our European Select and Legacy brands, but now he only likes to make wine from our top-end kits such as Cellar Craft Showcase.

He was thinking about making wine from fresh grapes this year and he wanted to know which I thought would make a better wine: our top-end wine ingredient kits or wine he made from fresh grapes?

I told him the answer’s simple. As an individual winemaker, you will almost always get a better wine using our top-end homemade wine kits. There are several reasons for this, but the most important and basic one has to do with the grape. A common mantra throughout the wine industry is:

No wine can be better than the grapes used to make it.

Or, as some people like to put it, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If you have mediocre grapes, the best you can hope for is mediocre wine. Only stellar grapes are capable of making a stellar wine and that’s what you get with our top-end wine ingredient kits.

Unless you are fortunate enough to live in Napa or Sonoma, the grapes that are going to be available to you are most likely not going to be of the same caliber as grapes used to make our high-end homemade wine kits. Although, I am certain that there are many exceptions to this, the fact remains that the odds are way out of your favor when going on the open market to find wine grapes.

The grapes used in our high-end wine ingredient kits such as: Cellar Craft Showcase or Atmosphere, are grown in select regions of the world. They come from the same fields used to produce many high-dollar wines found on the commercial market.

Shop Wine KitsI told him that this doesn’t mean he shouldn’t make wine from fresh grapes. The experience is wonderful and it’s a time that can be shared with family and friend. Wine making from fresh grapes has it’s rewards regardless of the quality. All this really means is don’t expect to make a killer wine with everyday wine grapes… expect everyday wine.

Here’s what the difference between wine ingredient kits and fresh grapes boils down to: If you’re looking for ultimate quality, go with the homemade wine kits. If your looking for the ultimate experience go for the fresh grapes.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

5 Tips To Improve Your Home Brews

Homebrewer Sampling BeerAfter brewing a few batches of beer, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your home brews – to make them better. While there may be a lot of different things you can do, try just one at a time. If you’ve already brewed a few batches, you’ve probably got the bug. Don’t rush – there’s plenty of time to learn.


  1. Take notes – Due to the fact that it takes several weeks to make beer, it’s easy to forget what you may have done on brew day once your beer is ready to drink. If you notice a flaw – or maybe something you really like – in a brew, having detailed notes with all of your procedures and ingredients listed out will make it that much easier to replicate your successes and avoid repeating your mistakes.
  1. Use filtered water – Though tap water is acceptable for your first batches of beer (and maybe beyond, depending on your water quality), using pure, filtered water is a simple way to improve your home brews. It gives you more of a blank canvas when it comes to reproducing certain beer styles. Some beers are heavy in mineral content; others are not. When you start with pure water you can customize your brewing water depending on what kind of beer you’re making.
  1. Control fermentation temperature – Possibly one of the biggest improvements you can make to your home brewed beer is to control the fermentation temperature. Chances are, you started out just fermenting at room temperature – and that’s fine. But sometimes room temperature and optimal fermentation temperature don’t always line up. If you can dedicate a spare refrigerator to fermentation and rig up a temperature controller, you’ll open up the full range of styles and can begin to explore how even subtle changes in temperature can improve your home brews.Shop Temperature Controller
  1. Replace some extract with grains – I’m not necessarily suggesting you skip ahead to all-grain brewing right away. Depending on your skill level, this may mean just steeping some additional grains prior to mixing in the malt extract, or it may be doing a full-on partial mash, simply supplementing the mash with some extract. Over time, you can do bigger and bigger mashes. Either way you do it, making the move towards using malted grains will give you more options and may also improve the flavor of your home brews.
  1. Brew clone recipes – I’m a big advocate for brewing clone recipes. Clones are intended to be copies of commercial brews. It’s easy to find them in books and online. The big advantage with brewing clones is that you can compare them to the original, and then break down what you can do to make the clone more exact. It’s a great way to develop your palate and your skills as a brewer. Plus, by using beer recipes that have been tested before, there’s a higher likelihood that your beer will turn out good. Check out some of these clone recipe kits to get started!


Are you an experienced homebrewer? What upgrades helped you to improve your home brews?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Do You Have To Filter Homemade Wine?

MiniJet Wine Filter SystemI have been reading your blog for some time. My neighbor makes wine and said I should try it.  I have a question. He uses a wine filter to clear his wine. Do you have to filter homemade wine? He says it is not but I don’t see how if you don’t have something to clear it.

Hello Eric,

Let me start off by saying that you can make perfectly clear homemade wine without using a wine filter of any kind. You do not need to filter a homemade wine for it be clear. Let me explain why…

What causes a wine to be cloudy is mostly wine yeast. The yeast multiply themselves into a colony of incredibly huge numbers during the fermentation. This wine yeast is finer than flour and adds a milky look to the fermenting wine must. Even though the wine yeast cells are microscopically tiny and can easily be stirred-up by the fermentation. They will also settle out through gravity once the fermentation activity has stopped. The other stuff like the pulp and tannin from the fruit will fall out even before the yeast.

If you do absolutely nothing, the wine yeast cells will settle out on their own, usually within a matter of days. This is why you do not have to filter the wine. It will become surprisingly clear on its on if given a chance.

If you would like to speed up the process you can use something called a fining agent. A fining agent is something that you add directly to the wine must. It collects the particles together and drags them to the bottom more quickly than they would on their own. A particular fining agent routinely used by many wineries is Bentonite.

You may be asking yourself at this point, “if the wine yeast will settle out on their own and I can use fining agents to speed up the process, then why does my neighbor have a wine filter? And furthermore, why do wine filters even exist“?

Wine filters do have a purpose in wine making,
but it’s not to clear up a cloudy wine.


A wine filter is designed to make a clear wine look even clearer. A wine filter should only be used on a wine after it is already visually clear. It filters out wine yeast, even beyond what the human I can see. This level of filtering adds further polish or luster to the wine causing it to illuminate more brilliantly.shop_wine_filters

It is important to understand that a wine filter is not something that strains the wine. The wine is actually forced under pressure through extremely fine filter pads. It filters the wine so fine that it can make a white wine look like a solid piece of glass in the wine bottle. With this kind of filtering power, using it on a wine that seems even slightly murky will cause the filter pads to clog up quickly. The wine needs to look absolutely clear to the naked-eye before the use of a wine filter can even be considered.

My suggestion to you is to go ahead and make a batch of wine and don’t worry about using a wine filter for now. Most home winemakers do not filter their wines and are absolutely satisfied with the clarity. Once the wine is finished and had time to clear, take a look at it and see if you are happy with its clarity. If not, then you can revisit purchasing a wine filter system to filter that wine.

Just remember that if you do decide that you need to filter your homemade wine, we have several different models of wine filters in stock that can be shipped the same day your order.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Zen and the Art of Bottling Homebrew: 10 Tips for Bottling Day Success

Freshly Bottled HomebrewHave you ever put off bottling your homebrew because you dreaded the task?

Though many brewers bemoan the act of bottling homebrew, others find bottling their brews to be an opportunity to disconnect from the modern world, to clear the mind, and hey, why not have a homemade beer while you’re at it?

Bottling homebrew does not have to be difficult. But for some reason it can be tempting to put it off until the last minute. As Seneca once said, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” Like many tasks, bottling homebrew is more stressful in our minds than it really is!

To help maintain the zen mindset while bottling your homebrew, consider these tips and make it as easy and painless as possible.


10 Tips for Bottling Homebrew

  1. Use label-free bottles. Removing labels from 50 bottles is no easy chore. Either buy some new ones, or see if you can get some from your local brewery.
  1. Set aside plenty of time for the task at hand. Rushing will only cause problems down the line. Two to three hours should be enough for bottling five gallons of homebrew (unless you have to remove labels from bottles – then plan on 3-4 hours).
  1. Clean your work area ahead of time. It’s much easier to cook in a clean kitchen. The same goes for when you’re bottling homebrew.
  1. Recruit a helper. Bottling homebrew is always more enjoyable with a friend. Dividing tasks also saves time and helps the time to go by faster. And who knows, you might end up inspiring a new homebrewer in the process.
  1. Start with clean beer bottles. This is my favorite tip for bottling homebrew. If you’re reusing beer bottles, rinse them out as soon as you’re done with them. When the bottles are already clean, all they need is a quick soak in sanitizer solution and you’re ready to go.
  1. Move the carboy into position early. Getting the carboy into position on the counter gives yeast and other sediment time to settle before racking to the bottling bucket.Shop Bottling Bucket for Bottling Homebrew
  1. Use a priming sugar calculator. Avoid bottle bombs and gushers. Use a priming calculator to pinpoint your target carbonation levels.
  1. Don’t forget the caps! This is a bottling tip I wish I could remember. More than once I’ve gotten halfway through bottling my beer, only to realize I hadn’t sanitized the bottle caps. Be sure to do this before pouring out your sanitizer solution!
  1. Reuse 6-pack carriers and case boxes. These make transport, organization, and storage easy.
  1. Keep beer bottles in a warm (room-temperature), dark area and patiently wait for 2-3 weeks. This may be the hardest tip for bottling homebrew to follow. To resist the temptation of cracking open a homebrew early, buy some nice, high-quality beer to enjoy in the interim.

What tips do you have for bottling homebrew?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

A Simple Guide To Metabisulfites

Sodium Metabisulfite, Potassium Metabisulfite and Campden TabletsI have a quick question that I can’t find the answer to. I’m hoping you can help me out. Which is better, campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite? I’ve looked in several places but don’t understand why you need all 3 to make wine.

Hello Shaun,

Thanks for the great question. This is an issue that perplexes many wine making hobbyist. So I’m glad you brought it up.

The first thing to understand is that all three of these wine making ingredients do the same thing: Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite, they all add sulfites to a solution. Whether it be wine or water the result is the same. Regardless of which of the three you use, the result is the same. Sulfites are being added to the liquid.

So what’s the difference? Not much. The main difference between sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite is that one will leave residual amounts of sodium in the wine and the other some potassium.

Many home winemakers will lean towards using potassium metabisulfite instead of sodium metabisulfite in their wines as a means of avoiding more sodium intake in their diet. But in reality this is somewhat futile.

If the normal recommended dose of sodium metabisulfite is used—1/16 teaspoon per gallon—the residual sodium being added is equivalent to one slice of pickle per case of wine. Not enough to affect the flavor and certainly not enough to affect your diet.

Potassium metabisulfite is slightly stronger than sodium metabisulfite by volume—17% stronger—but this is not enough to be taken into account if you are only making 5 or 10 gallons of wine at a time. With either we recommend the same dosage.Shop Sulfite Tester

Now that we have cleared that up, what makes Campden tablets different from potassium and sodium metabisulfite? Again, not much. Campden tablets are nothing more that potassium metabisulfite in tablet form. The tablets are measured in a dose for one gallon of wine. You simply use one tablet per gallon.

So in the case of tablets, it’s a matter of  convenience. If a home winemaker is only making a gallon or two of wine at a time, they may want to use Campden tablets instead of having to measure out a 1/16 teaspoon dose for each gallon, just to keep things simple.

As to your question as to which one is best to use, in reality it just doesn’t matter. I say, ‘pick one and go with it’. Many home wine makers will use sodium metabisulfite for sanitizing their equipment and wine bottles and then use the potassium metabisulfite to go directly into the wine for preservation. But in reality, if you don’t want to buy both… not a big deal.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

“German” IPA Beer Recipe (All-Grain & Partial Mash)

German Beer In GlassesOne of the fun things about homebrewing is mashing together different beer styles and creating something altogether new. After trying a “German IPA” at a brewpub in Atlanta, I knew I had to give it a shot. The beer had the wonderful, malty backbone and the in-your-face hop flavor of an IPA, but the hops themselves were not what you’d usually expect to find in that kind of beer. Instead of piney, citrusy American hops, this beer showcased the more spicy and floral character of noble hops.


Developing a German IPA Beer Recipe

A number of clues came from the beer menu:

Grain bill: Munich, Vienna
Hops: Magnum, Perle, Northern Brewer, Hallertau, Tettnang
Yeast: German ale yeast

These were my tasting notes: Balanced bitterness, medium to medium-full bodied, spicy notes in the flavor, but with assertive noble hop aroma.

Based on this information, I took a couple of stabs at the beer recipe, and this is its current iteration. Feel free to use it as a starting point for your own German IPA, or modify it to suit your tastes.

Good luck!


German IPA Beer Recipe – All-Grain
(5-gallon batch)

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 64
SRM: 11

9 lbs. German Vienna malt
4 lbs. German Munich malt (dark)
0.5 oz. Magnum hops at :60
1 oz. Perle hops at :20
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :10
1 oz. Hallertau hops at :5
1 oz. Tettnang hops at :5
1 oz. Hallertau hops dry hopped for five days
1 oz. Tettnang hops dry hopped for five days
Wyeast 1007: German Ale Yeast

shop_barley_grainsThe day before brewing, prepare a 2L yeast starter. On brew day, mash grains at 154˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge and lauter to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. Boil for one hour, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket. Ferment at 66˚F for about a week, then transfer to a secondary fermenter. Dry hop for five days, then bottle or keg.


German IPA Beer Recipe – Partial Mash
(5-gallon batch)

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 64
SRM: 11

2 lbs. German Vienna malt
2.5 lb. German Munich malt (dark)
6.6 lbs. Munich LME
1.65 oz. Magnum hops at :60
1 oz. Perle hops at :20
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :10
1 oz. Hallertau hops at :5
1 oz. Tettnang hops at :5
1 oz. Hallertau hops dry hopped for five days
1 oz. Tettnang hops dry hopped for five daysshop_hops
Wyeast 1007: German Ale Yeast

The day before brewing, prepare a 2L yeast starter. On brew day, do a “mini-mash” of the Vienna and Munich malts in 6.75 qts. of clean water. Hold at 154˚F for 60 minutes, then strain wort into the brew kettle. Add the malt extracts and enough water to make 3 gallons. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket, adding enough clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.5 gallons. Ferment at 66˚F for about a week, then transfer to a secondary fermenter. Dry hop for five days, then bottle or keg.

Have you ever brewed a “German” IPA before? What was your beer recipe like?

David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

How To Add Yeast To A Wine Must

Wine yeast is an essentialYeast Starter For Adding To Wine Must ingredient of any wine recipe. It is the critical ingredient that does all the work. Wine yeast consumes the sugars in the wine must and converts them into alcohol and CO2 gas. Without the yeast you would have no wine.

There are three different ways to add yeast to wine must. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a brief overview of each of them:

Add The Yeast Directly To The Wine Must:
This is the most common method. Simply open the packet of wine yeast and sprinkle it directly on top of the wine must. There is no reason to the stir the yeast into the liquid. It will dissolve into the wine must just fine on its own. Sprinkle the yeast and let it be. The obvious advantage to this method is that it takes no effort. The disadvantage is that you do lose some of the yeast’s ability to ferment effectively at the very beginning of fermentation. The result is a delay in the startup of fermentation – usually a matter of 3 or 4 hours.

Re-hydrate The Yeast. Then Add To The Wine Must:
The wine yeast that you get in little packets has been dehydrated. All the moisture has been taken from the cells to make them inactive while in storage. Re-hydrate means to add water back to the yeast. When this process is done before adding the yeast to the wine must, you get a fermentation that takes off more quickly.

It’s no coincidence that this is the method you will find on the side of most packets of wine yeast. The producers of these yeast packets would prefer you use this method. The problem is that if you do not follow the directions “exactly” you can easily kill the wine yeast.

Typical wine yeast re-hydration directions will read something like:

“Put the yeast in two ounces of water that is between 104°F. and 109°F. for a period of 15 minutes.”

This method works well if you follow it without wavering in time or temperature. But if you don’t use a thermometer to verify the water’s temperature, or if you leave the wine yeast in the water for longer than directed, you can easily kill most or all of the wine yeast.

Make A Yeast Starter. Then Add To The Wine Must:
This method is often confused with re-hydration, but it’s not the same thing. Re-hydration is getting the wine yeast back to its original state by adding water with it.  But a yeast starter is actually letting the yeast ferment on a small amount of must before adding it to a batch of wine. A yeast starter usually take one or two days to get going before it is add to the entire batch.Shop Digital Thermometer

Making a yeast starter is fairly straight-foreword. If the wine must is already prepared you can use it as the starter. One pint of wine must in a quart Mason jar and a packet of wine yeast works perfectly for a five gallon batch of wine. If your batch is larger, multiply the starter’s size proportionately.  Add a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient along with the yeast packet and cover it with a plastic wrap secured with a rubber band. Prick a pinhole in the plastic wrap to allow the gasses to escape.

If you don’t have the wine must at hand you can use our Winemaker’s Quick Starter to create a starter without the wine must. It comes with complete directions on how much to use, etc.

Regardless of the starter size or how it was made, you want the wine yeast to maximize its level of activity before adding it to the wine must. You will see the yeast starter begin to foam up. I usually tell people to pitch the starter into the wine must once you see this foaming start to slow down. In other words, once the foaming has peaked. This is usually 12 to 18 hours after starting.

When you make the yeast starter you can sprinkle the packet of yeast direction into it, but the purist will re-hydrate the wine yeast in water, first, before doing so.

The advantage with the method of adding yeast to a wine must is that you will get the quickest and most thorough fermentation. Your yeast will also be under little stress, so the chance of the yeast producing any off-flavors is very minimal. The disadvantage is that it is more work, and you do need to plan ahead since the starter needs a day or two to get going.

How you decide to add yeast to your wine must is entirely up to you. Any of these methods will work. Just consider the advantages and disadvantages of each one, and go with what works best for you.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Tips for Brewing with Rye

Sack Of Rye For Brewing BeerHave you ever wanted to brew a Rye IPA or a Rye Saison? Though rye beers are easy to brew, it just helps to know a few techniques before you get started. Here’s some tips for brewing with rye.


How is rye different from other brewing grains?

While most beer is made primarily from barley, other grains can be used to add complexity of flavor or to affect the mouthfeel of the beer. Rye, like wheat, is higher in protein than barley so it helps to give beer a smooth, chewy, filling mouthfeel. It does not have a husk, so sometimes rice hulls are used to help with lautering. Rye also has a unique flavor, one that some describe as spicy, tangy, or rustic. It seems to pair well with spicy hops and phenolic yeast strains.


How to Add Rye to Your Homebrew

Brewers have a few choices when adding rye to their brew. Rye malt is the standard ingredient for brewing with rye. It can be crushed just like other malted grains, though rye tends to have a smaller grain size, so it may be necessary to mill the rye separately on a smaller setting to get a good crush.

Flaked rye has been heated and pressed through rollers. Flaked grains don’t need to be milled, so they can be added directly to the mash or steeping bag.

Chocolate rye malt is a specialty grain that combines the roasty, chocolatey flavors of a darker specialty malt with the spicy notes of rye. It’s a fun way to add some complexity to darker beers! Use up to about a half-pound or so in a five-gallon batch.Shop Barley Crusher

Similar to chocolate rye malt, Cararye malt is a rye malt that’s been kilned just enough to develop some amber color and sweet caramel flavor. Recommended usage is up to 15% of the grain bill.

When brewing with rye it is important to understand that it has a higher protein content than other grains and no husk. Because of this rice hulls are recommended when brewing with more than about a pound of rye. This will improve filtering ability of the grain bed and will help reduce the likelihood of a stuck mash. Rice hulls will not affect flavor or color, but they will greatly improve the filtering ability of the grain bed. For an all-grain batch of homebrew with more than 10% rye, 0.5-1 pound of rice hulls are recommended. They do not need to be milled.


Rye Homebrew Recipes

Ready to make some rye beers of your own? Here’s some beer recipes to help you start brewing with rye…


Have you ever tried brewing with rye? What’s your favorite style of rye beer? 
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Wine Myth #64: The Older The Wine, The Better The Wine.

Couple Shopping For WineLet’s clear some things up. In general, wine does improve with age… but only to a point. Like many facets of life, there always seems to be some misinformation that makes its way to the realm of common knowledge. This seems to be the case with the myth: the older the wine the better it tastes.

Different wines age differently. Some wines age gracefully for 10 or 15 years. Other wines show improvement for a year or two and then plateau. Then there’s that very small group where no aging at all is ever going to do any good: might as well drink it now, because it ain’t gettin’ any better.

While all wines do vary in the way they age, one thing that is common among them all is that they each wine has its own life cycle. This fact can be partially surmised just by taking notice of the descriptors used to describe the aging qualities of a wine.

For example, a newly bottled wine is called young. Then later after some aging characteristics become evident, the same wine might be called mature. Then if the wine is not drank and left to set beyond its prime, one might refer to it as fallen-over.

Words like: young, mature and fallen-over, should give you a good sense as to how a wine goes about progressing through life. It improves for a period of time, just like everyone expects. Then it peaks in quality. Then it eventually declines. It’s the “decline” part that fails to make it into the realm of “common knowledge.” With each passing year the wine is actually becoming worse instead of getting better.

A wine doesn’t necessarily fall-over over night, but it will do so slowly over an extend period of time. For a big wine that has taken 5 or 10 years to peak in quality, we may be talking about a decline over several decades. For a wine that has peaked in a matter of a few month, we may talking about a decline over 2 or 3 years. Regardless, it is good to understand that:

There comes a time in any wine’s life
when it is begging to be drank!


Shop Wine BarrelsThis older-the-wine-the better myth has partially been perpetuated by the wine industry itself, although not intentionally. Many wines go up in price as they become older. This gives the perception that it is worth more because it is becoming better. With each passing year you can see the price of many vintages going higher and higher. In reality, this has less to do with the wine becoming better and has more to do with the wine becoming rarer.

If a certain vintage has been deemed to have aging potential, wine collectors will gravitate towards it and deplete its inventory level on the open market. When this happens it then becomes a simple issue of supply-and-demand. The fewer bottles left, the higher the price that can be commanded for that particular vintage.

The point here is: don’t judge a wine by its age. While wines do get better with age, they can also get worse.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.