When Do I Put My Wine Into Oak Barrels?

Oak Wine Barrel On StandMy son gave me a 5 gallon oak wine barrel as a gift. I have a batch of red wine that I would like to put in the oak barrel and let it age a bit. When do I put the wine in the barrel? Do I let the wine finish up and clear with bentonite first and then put it in the barrel or should it go into the barrel now, let it age for a period of time then finish and bottle it?

Thanks,
David
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Dear David,

Thanks for the great question, and way to go son! An oak wine barrel is really one of the better wine making gifts you can receive as a home wine maker. A lot of people underestimate how valuable the effects of oak aging can be to a wine.

The most common time for a wine to be in barrels is after the fermentation has completed, and the yeast has had time to settle out. That is also when I would recommend you put your wine in the barrel. That being said, the direct answer to your question is: add the bentonite first; let the wine clear; then go to the oak wine barrel.

One thing you have do have to be concerned when aging a wine in a barrel is how long to keep the wine in the barrel. A vast majority of the wineries will barrel-age anywhere from 18 to 30 months. This is perfectly reasonable if using 50 gallons oak barrels, but when using smaller oak barrels, the length of time needs to be much less.

A 5 gallon wine barrel holds only 10% of what a 50 gallon wine barrel can hold, yet the surface contact between the wood and the wine is still about half that of a 50 gallon barrel. What this translates into is: smaller wine barrels will affect the wine much more quickly than larger wine barrels. In the case of 5 gallons versus 50, about 5 times faster.Shop Fermentation Sampler

Because of this, it is easy to over oak the wine when aging in small barrels, especially if you are used to aging in glass jugs. With glass jugs aging too long is hard to do, more forgiving, but with small barrels you can potentially ruin the wine with too much wood.

This is why I always urge anyone aging in smaller barrels to monitor their wine’s flavor progression closely. At least once a month, taste a sample so that the barrel aging effects does not become too much. This can be easily done with a wine thief.

In summary, after you have cleared out the wine yeast is when to put your wine in the barrel, and monitor your wine’s flavor closely, at least monthly. Make sure that the wine does not become to woody or overcome by the effects of the barrel.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.

Being Sanitary Is Less Work With ‘Basic A’ Wine Making Sanitizer.

Basic A Wine Making SanitizerOne of the most important aspects of making your own wine is keeping things clean and sanitary.

It’s important because wine is like a living thing. It needs to be protected from wild molds, bacteria, etc. Without proper care your wine can become overtaken by these foreign organisms and eventually spoiled.

Using a wine making sanitizer to cleanse your wine equipment is often overlooked or treated lightly by many home wine makers, and understandably so. It takes time and effort to be sanitary. Simply put: it’s extra work! Who wants to spend their time sanitizing their wine making equipment when all they really want to do is make some wine!

We understand. That’s why we set out to develop a product that addresses both of these issues: the ‘sanitizing’ and the ‘work’. What we’ve come up with is a wine sanitizer called ‘Basic A’ . It’s a very quick and effective sanitizer. But even more importantly, it’s very simple to use and requires very little effort on your part.

Basic A is not a chlorine. It’s an oxygenating cleanser. What this mean is that all the sanitizing is done while the wine equipment is air-drying. It’s actually the evaporation of the solution that causes the sanitizing action to happen. It’s a no-rinse cleanser.

Basic A wine making sanitizer is safe. So safe and eco-friendly that you don’t need to worry about any residues being left behind… because there aren’t any!

It works on any non-porous surface: glass, plastics, metals, porcelain and others. Just give Basic A one minute of contact time with your: fermenters, carboys, bottles, air-locks and other wine making materials, then allow to air-dry. No rinsing is required! It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Basic A wine making sanitizer comes in an 8 ounce jar that is sufficient for making 10 gallons of solution. Complete directions are included. Just dissolve 1 tablespoon to each gallon of warm water and you’re all set to go.
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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.

When Is My Wine Ready To Bottle?

Three homemade wines that are ready to be bottled.What is the best way to tell when my wine is ready to bottle?

Thank You,
Rick, IN
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Hello Rick,

Great question, and an important one too. The last thing anyone wants to do is bottle their wine too soon. This is especially important if you plan on handing any of it out as wine making gifts. A significant amount of sediment could eventually form in the wine bottle, or worse yet, corks could possibly start pushing out and cause a mess.

Fortunately for us home winemakers, it’s very easy to determine if a wine is ready to be bottled. Here is what has to happen before you can bottle your wine:

1. Your wine has to be completely clear. There should be no more sediment that needs to fall out. Most of the sediment you’ll be dealing with is made up of tiny, microscopic yeast cells. These cells are as fine as flour. It is important to understand that even the slightest amount of murkiness in the wine at bottling time could lead to sediment in the wine bottles later. Give the wine plenty of time to clear. If you’re not sure wait, longer.

2. Your wine should read less than .998 on the Specific Gravity scale of your wine hydrometer. This is telling you that the fermentation process has actually finished and hasn’t just stalled out halfway, or still fermenting very slowly as a stuck fermentation. If you do not have a wine hydrometer I would urge you to get one. They are not that expensive and can save you a lot of problems in the long run.Shop Degassing Paddles

3. The wine should be free of any residual CO2 gas. This is the gas that occurs when the wine ferments. CO2 gas is the same stuff that makes beer foam and soda pop fizzy. Once the wine is taken off the sediment, you can stir the wine to get this gas to release. You may want to consider purchasing a Degassing/Mixing Paddle to help you with this process. It is a paddle that attaches to a hand drill and will fit in the opening of a carboy as well as an opening of a plastic fermenter.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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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.

How To Determine Your Wine’s Alcohol Level.

Tipsy ManThis is the question every budding home wine maker wants to know, “How can I tell how much alcohol is in my wine?” The problem is, this question is usually asked about the time they’re ready to bottle their wine.  Unfortunately, for the amateur winemaker, this is far to late in the process to make any accurate determinations.

What Needs To Happen
The easiest way to know how much alcohol is in your wine is to take two readings with what’s known as a wine hydrometer: one reading is taken before the fermentation has started and the other reading is taken after the fermentation has finished. By comparing these two hydrometer readings you can determine – with great accuracy – how much alcohol is in your wine.

Very simply put, a hydrometer is a long, sealed glass tube with a weight on one end. By observing how high or low it floats in a liquid you can determine a reading.

“And what are we reading?” Essentially, we are trying to figure out how much sugar is in the wine or wine must. The higher the wine hydrometer floats, the more sugar there is in the liquid, and the opposite holds true as well.

During a fermentation, sugar is what yeast turns into alcohol. If we know how much sugar there was in the wine must before the fermentation, and we know how much sugar there is in the wine after the fermentation, we then know how much sugar was consumed by the yeast during the fermentation. From this information we can determine how much alcohol was made during the fermentation and is now in the wine.

It all sound complicated when it is all explained in detail this way, but in practice it is very easy to accomplish. All you need to do is:

1. Take a wine hydrometer reading at the same time you add the yeast to your wine must. The hydrometer has a scale along it called “Potential Alcohol”. At this point in the wine making process you should be getting a reading of around 10% to 13%. The reading is the point where the surface of the liquid crosses the scale. This reading indicates how much alcohol the wine can have if all the sugars are fermented. Write this number from the gravity hydrometer down and save it for later.Shop Hydrometers

2. Take another reading with the hydrometer once the fermentation has completed. This reading should be somewhere around +1 to -1 on the Potential Alcohol scale. By comparing these two gravity hydrometer readings you can determine your wine’s alcohol level. Take the first number you wrote down and from that, subtract the second number.

The Calculations
As an example, if your reading before the fermentation was 12% and the reading after the fermentation was 1%, this means that your wine has 11% alcohol (12 minus 1). If your first reading was 12% and your second reading was -1%, that means your wine has 13% alcohol (12 minus -1).

Another way to think of it is you are monitoring how far along the wine hydrometer’s Potential Alcohol scale the fermentation is traveling. It started at 12 and ended up at -1. That’s’ 13 points along the scale.

Further Information
You can find more information about using a hydrometer to make wine in the book, “First Steps In Winemaking.” Also, the article, “Getting To Know Your Hydrometer” as lot additional information about using your hydrometer when making wine.
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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.

Giving Your Wines Amazingly Long Shelf-Life!

Homemade Wine AgingI am fairly new to home wine making and was wondering what process should I follow to insure that the wine that I make will not have a short shelf life?

Regards,
Dave Yoder
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Hello Mr. Yoder,

The very first thing that I think should be pointed out is that the shelf-life of homemade wine can easily be as long as the shelf-life of any commercially made wine. The home winemaker can perform the same procedures and use the same techniques that are used by a winery to extend the shelf life of their wines.

There are a couple of things you may be meaning by shelf-life when using it in the context of wine and wine making. The first is shelf-life in terms of spoilage. How do you make a wine that will go a long time without spoiling? The second is in terms of flavor. How do you make a wine that will taste good for a long period of time… without it’s character, flavor structure and other agreeable qualities breaking down and becoming decrepit? I’ll try to tackle both of these perspectives:


PREVENTING SPOILAGE:

If you want to extend the shelf-life of a homemade wine, the first thing you have to do is not allow the wine to spoil. Making a wine that doesn’t spoil is relatively simple. There are two basic parts to it:

First and foremost, you need to be sanitary.
By this I mean you need to wash and clean all your equipment, bottles, etc. Make them grim free with soap. This part is mostly common sense.

But beyond washing you need to sanitize all these items. Just because it looks clean doesn’t mean that it isn’t harboring traces of mold or bacteria. When you are talking about allowing a juice to ferment for days or weeks you need to be sure that the only thing growing is the wine yeast. To do this you must destroy all the other opportunities.

Soap does not sanitize. For this you need to use a sanitizing solution. We offer several sanitizers that you mix with water to make this solution. Some of the sanitizers we offer are: Basic A, Cleanpro SDH, One Step, B-Brite and Star-San. You can read more about them on our website.

The second half of preventing spoilage is to use sulfites.
Adding sulfites directly to your wine, 24 hours before the fermentation is critical to keeping spoilage from starting. It is only added in trace amounts but is very effective in keeping the wine fresh during the fermentation. It destroys wild mold and bacteria. Then it leaves the wine must by dissipating into the air as a gas.Shop Potassium Bisulfite

Sulfites should be added to the wine a second time, right before bottling. This is to keep the wine from spoiling while in the wine bottle. Doing this will go a long way in increasing the shelf-life of your homemade wine.

We offer sulfites in three different forms: Campden Tablets, sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite. Any of these three will work fine. You can find more information about adding sulfite to a wine on our website as well.


MAINTAINING FLAVOR:

Now that we know how to keep a wine from spoiling, we need to know how to make it age better over longer periods of time — without losing its flavor qualities… Its goodness. This is the second part if extending the shelf-life of a homemade wine.

It is important to realize that from a flavor standpoint all wines have a life-cycle. They start out a little harsh; a little rough around the edges; a little bit one dimensional. This is what’s meant when someone says the wine is young.

Then as time passes, they slowly matures into a smoother, more flavorful wine. Depending on the quality of the grape, some wines even become complex and layered with many different flavors that come and go on the tongue with each swallow… something with a bit of marveling character. These wines are now considered to be in their prime.

This maturation of a wine will usually happen relatively quickly in its lifetime. Typically in the 6 to 36 month range, depending on the type of wine. After the maturing the wine is usually at its best — flavor-wise. Then very slowly, year after year, sometimes decade after decade, the wine will begin to loose its positive qualities. It will become less flavorful, more flat and lifeless, more uneventful to drink.

This is the rise and fall of the life-cycle of the wine. How fast a wine lives its life or ages-out depends partially on some known factors. These factors control the shelf-life of the wine to some degree:

 

  • How Big The Wine Is: Big, heavy red wines that have low pH from tannins and high alcohol, will mature and age more slowly than wines that are light and delicate. So if you want a wine that will keep in the wine rack for years and maybe even decades, make it big. The downside to this is that these types of wines also take a bit longer to mature and become fully worth drinking. They will stay young for longer periods of time. Usually at least 24 months and more likely to be 36 months.Shop Wine Corks
  • How Much Air Is The Wine Allowed To Breath: Yes, wines breath, but not intentionally. In part, oxygen facilitates the aging of the wine. A slow infuse of air into the wine bottle is what is needed for optimal aging. It just so happens this is exactly what a natural wine cork does. It allows extremely small amounts of air to come in contact with the wine over very long periods of time. If the wine is allowed too much air in a given time period, then the wine will develop a temporary condition known as bottle sickness or bottle shock, and in extreme cases, may become oxidized. If too little air is allowed then the wine will age very, very slowly and in many cases taking it forever to achieve its full potential. This is why you see light, fruity wines being bottled under screw-cap… to stymie the quick aging and extend the shelf-life of the wine.
  • How Stable Is The Wine’s Storage Temperature: This factor is related to the wine’s breathing as well. If a wine is being stored in an area that has fluctuating temperatures on a daily bases or even on a seasonal bases: summer verses winter, then it will age quicker and have a shorter shelf-life than a wine that is stored at a constant temperature.This it due to the expansion and contraction of the wine in the bottle. As the wine becomes cooler it will contract just a little. Because it is a liquid it will contract more than the glass wine bottle it is in. This causes a vacuum in the bottle and minuscule amounts of air will slowly seep past the cork into the bottle. The opposite holds true as well. As the wine becomes a little warmer, it will expand causing a small amount of pressure to build up in the bottle. Air will slowly makes its way past the cork and out of the wine bottle.
  • How Dense Is The Wine Cork Being Used: This partially relates back to the stability of the wine’s storage temperature. The more dense the cork is, the less air it will allow to seep past when under a vacuum or pressure. However, if the storage temperature is constant, the density of the cork does not really matter since vacuum and pressure are not being built up in the wine bottle. You will find wine corks with different density on our web site.
  • How Cool Is The Wine’s Storage Temperature: This is mostly a commonsense factor. Wines that are stored at cooler temperatures will age more slowly than wines that are stored at warmer temperatures. So cooler temperatures will extend the shelf-life of the wine. I think this is something most of would instinctively know. Most wine experts agree that a good storage temperature for most wines is 55° F.

 

Just to recap: there are two parts to extending the shelf-life of a homemade wine. First, you want to be sanitary. Clean and sanitize your equipment. Add sulfites to the wine, particularly before bottling to discourage unwanted growth of mold and bacteria. Second, you want to control air contact and temperature while in the bottle. By understanding and controlling these principals you can control the shelf-life of your homemade wines.

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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.

How To Crush Grapes And Why It’s Important!

Crushing Wine Grapes Into GlassYou say grapes must be crushed before pressing, what do you use to crush them with?

Thank you,
Tony
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Hello Tony,

Crushing the wine grapes is a very straight forward process. All you want to do is burst the skin of each grape. This is necessary to release the juice from the grape. It also allows the yeast and enzymes into the grape to further break down the fiber and release even more juice along with flavor and body elements that will make up the character of the resulting wine.

If you do not crush the grapes, you will discover that a significant number of grapes will not release any juice at all. They will stay whole when being pressed. Other grapes may only give up a marginal amount of their juice while being squeezed. This is true regardless of the type of wine press you are using.

On the flip-side, you do not want to over-crush the wine grapes. Doing so may release too much tannin. This could lead to a wine that is out of pH balance and bitter tasting. You just want to solidly burst the skins. As an example, don’t pull out the food processor. That is not how to crush grapes and would definitely be overkill!

Another aspect to consider is that you need to remove the stems from the wine grapes at some point. A few stems are okay, but you do not want all of the stems in the fermentation. This too will cause the wine to become overly bitter with excessive tannin.

How you tackle the crushing of the grapes will depend on the amount of grapes you are dealing with. If you have just 10 or 20 pounds it wouldn’t be a bad idea to crush them by hand. With 100 pounds you might get away with crushing the grapes by beating them with the butt end of a 2×4 while in a bucket. But anything beyond this, and you are going to want to start considering an actual grape crusher.

We offer four different grape crushers. They all crush the wine grapes equally well. The biggest difference between these crushers is speed. Some have de-stemmers with them, or you can de-stem the grapes by hand. Regardless, if you have a large pile of grapes, using one of these units is how you will want to crush your grapes:

 

  • Wooden Fruit Crusher: This is the smallest grape crusher we offer. It is hand-cranked and easily does about 80 to 100 pounds an hour. It is well designed and will crush small berries as will as larger fruit.Shop Grape Destemmers
  • Stainless Steel Fruit Crusher: This is a manual grape crusher as well. The main differences are that it is rated at 1850 pound per hour and it is stainless steel, very easy to clean up. It also has rotating knives within the hopper for handling other types of fruit.
  • Motorized Crusher / De-stemmer: This is a motorize grape crusher. And as the name suggests, it is also a grape de-stemmer. The crushed grapes fall out the bottom and the stems will come out the side of the unit. It is rated at 2,200 pounds per hour.

 

I hope this information helps you out and gives you a better idea of how to crush your grapes. The bottom line is the wine grapes need to be crushed before they can be made into wine, and they need to be crushed by the right amount. Burst the skins thoroughly, but don’t do more than that.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.

Can I Make A Second Wine With Left-Over Pulp?

Grape pulp that could be used for second run wines.I am currently fermenting a 5 to 6-gallon batch of wine from fresh raspberries, and still have the pulp in a straining bag in the plastic fermenter. SG about 1.045. Can I make a second wine from this pulp? Please explain how, and the ingredients/amounts.

Sam K.
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Hello Sam,

What you are referring to is a process called making seconds. This is where you take the spent pulp from a fermentation and use it to make a second wine. It is a practice that is mostly related to making wine from grapes, not raspberries or any other kind of fruits. There is a reason for this…

When you make wine using actual wine grapes, you are using around 80 pounds of grapes for every 5 gallons of wine. When making wine from raspberries and most all other fruits, you are using somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 pounds for every 5 gallons of wine. There is a lot less pulp involved in the later case. This smaller amount is typically not enough pulp to go around for a second batch of wine, whereas with grapes you’ll have quite a bit of pulp. The picture above shows a winery dispensing the grape pulp after fermentation.

Yes, you could use the spent raspberry pulp to make a second wine, smaller batch – say, one or two gallons. Only you can make a decision as to whether or not it is worth your time and effort.

 

How To Make Second Wines

All you need to do to make a second wine is to:

  1. Take the pulp and add water until you reach the desired batch size – usually the same size as the original batch.
  1. Use a wine hydrometer to determine how much sugar to add to the wine must to achieve the desired alcohol level.Shop Acid Test Kit
  1. Add acid blend to the wine must based on acid test readings taken with an acid testing kit. The directions that come with the acid testing kit will help you to determine how much acidity your wine should have.
  1. Add a dose of yeast energizer to the must. Follow the amount that is recommended on the jar it came in.
  1. Add the wine yeast – preferably a Champagne-type wine yeast. Go through all the fermentation stages just like you did with the first run and you’ll have your second run wine. If you need directions on how to make the wine, you can use the 7 Easy Steps To Making Wine that is listed on our website.

And that’s how to make a second wine. It should be noted that the wine will be harsh directly after the fermentation, but will improve remarkable after a month or two of aging.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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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.

Don’t Let Your Wine Fermentation Temperature Get Too Low!

Winemaker Punching Cold FermentationI am a newbie to wine making. I understand the primary fermentation temp should be 65-75? How about the secondary fermentation and subsequent processes? I am wanting to make my wine in my basement but it might be too cool.

Thanks.
Todd
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Hello Todd,

This is a great question. The answer to it is quite often what trips up many beginning home winemakers.

The effect that temperature has on a wine fermentation is enormous and greatly underestimated by many. This is particularly true for those new to wine making. As an example to the enormity of its effect, consider the 65°F. you mentioned above. This might allow a wine fermentation that is barely noticeable to occur, whereas the 75°F. you mentioned might end up producing a fermentation that results in a spewing volcano of foam. That’s how dynamic temperature can be to a wine fermentation.

The type of wine yeast you use, along with the wine you are fermenting and a whole host of other, more minor, variables also factor into how dramatic this comparison plays out, but without a doubt fermentation temperature is always vital enough to make your question an important one.

Whether or not your wine must is in a primary fermenter or secondary fermenter is not what matters to the temperature you maintain. What does matter are the readings you are getting with your wine hydrometer.

You will eventually want to keep your wine at a little cooler temperature than what you previously mentioned, but you also want the fermentation to be complete before moving the wine to these cooler temperatures. You determine if a fermentation is done by taking a hydrometer reading, not by whether or not it is in a primary or secondary fermenter.

Sometimes the fermentation finishes while it is still in the primary fermenter. Sometimes the fermentation carries on for a great deal of time while it is in the secondary fermenter. The reason for this inconsistency is because of all the variables mentioned before: yeast strain, type of wine, etc.

Shop Heating BeltYou can read more about checking the fermentation with a hydrometer in the article, Getting To Know Your Hydrometer, listed on our website. You may also want to check out, How To Know If Your Fermentation Is Done.

Even though you suggested wine fermentation temperatures between 65°F. and 75°F., we recommend between 70°F. and 75°F. Once you get below 70°F. some wine yeast strains have a tendency of dragging out the fermentation.

Once the fermentation has completed, and this has been verified with a wine hydrometer, you can maintain a lower temperature. An optimal temperature for storage would be 55°F., but it is not extremely critical. Just do the best you can to keep it out of warm temperatures once the fermentation has completed. What’s more important is that the temperature be even and not be all over the place while the wine is in storage.

Thank you for your great question on wine fermentation temperature. Just remember that you should have some type of control of the temperature. You do not want the fermentation to be too low or too high, but just right. I hope this information helps you out.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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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.

My Wine Hydrometer Is Reading No Alcohol Content

Zero Percent With HydrometerMy hydrometer says my wine has no, what can I do? …and what did I do wrong? It’s a cab, I let it ferment and it’s clear but when I checked the alcohol level it said 0%, what can I do?

Thanks Mike A.
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Hello Mike,

We get your question a lot: My wine is done fermenting, but the hydrometer is reading no alcohol content. What happened?

Well, I’ve got some great news. It is extremely likely that there is not a problem with the wine. It fermented just fine, and it does have plenty of alcohol in it.

It is much more likely that you are interpreting the hydrometer readings incorrectly. It happens all the time and stems from the fact that the wine hydrometer is a backwards instrument when it comes to reading alcohol content. All that’s needed is a little clarification, and I think you’ll see what I mean.

To determine the alcohol content of any wine you must take more than just one reading with the hydrometer. You must take two readings and compare them – one before the fermentation begins and another one after. For example, a typical beginning reading on the wine hydrometer’s alcohol scale would be 13%. The typical ending reading might be 0%. If this were the case, the wine would have 13% alcohol.

Shop HydrometersIt is the beginning reading minus the ending reading. Or, another way to look at it: it is the distance that the fermentation travels along the alcohol scale, not its current reading.

Another point is that the scale is actually not call an alcohol scale. It is called a Potential Alcohol scale. At any given time this scale can tell you how much alcohol can be made with the sugars that are still currently available in the wine must. What it cannot tell you is how much alcohol is in the wine with just that one reading.

In your case, the potential alcohol scale is reading close 0% alcohol content because there is no sugar left to make more alcohol. The sugar has already been consumed by the wine yeast and fermented into alcohol.

If you would liked to read more about why your wine hydrometer is reading no alcohol content, the link will take you to some more detailed information about this: Hydrometer Scales And What They Mean.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.

If Your Wine’s Not Foaming During Fermentation, Then Read This!

Foaming Fermentation FermentationI started a batch of blueberry wine. When I added my yeast it did not get foamy but you could hear it working and see it bubbling. I’m wondering what could cause this or if you think there might be a problem with it.

Thanks
Rick, Holly Springs, MS
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Hello Rick,

The fact that there is no foaming during the fermentation could be an indication that you have an issue. It never hurts to look over the Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure and see if any of the reasons apply to your situation. These 10 reasons cover well over 95% of this issues we come across.

But it is much, much more likely that you do not have anything to worry about. The amount of foam does vary from one fermentation to the next, regardless of the amount of activity that is actually going on through the air-lock. In all likelihood you are simply being fooled by the foam – or lack of it.

There are several factors that can cause this variation in foaming during the fermentation. I’ll quickly go over the two big ones:

  • The Fruit You Are Using: Proteins and other gelatinous materials that are in the fruit are the main components that cause a fermentation to foam. You have strawberries and peaches at the high end of the protein spectrum and apples and cranberries at the low end. More specific to your question, blackberries have twice the protein as your blueberries. Your blueberries are on the low side. This mean you can expect little foaming during the fermentation.

To really know how things are going with your wine’s fermentation you really should not depend on the amount of foam you see. As you can start to see, it really doesn’t mean that much. You need to rely on a wine hydrometer. By taking hydrometer readings during the wine’s fermentation, you can track how fast or how slow your wine is fermenting.

If you take a couple of hydrometer readings a couple of days apart and there is no change, then you know your wine is not fermenting. If the hydrometer readings are different, then you know you have progress and you don’t need to be concerned.

Just because there is no foaming during the fermentation doesn’t mean you have a problem. It is the wine hydrometer that has the final say as to what’s going on, so take your hydrometer readings, and don’t be fooled-by-the-foam.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.