How Do You Make Non-Alcoholic Wine?

Non-Alcoholic WineHow do you make non alcohol wine? I am interested in doing this. Do you have information that can tell me how to do this?

Thank You!
Lloyd
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Dear Lloyd,

Unfortunately, making non-alcohol wine is something that requires special equipment and a little technical know-how.

You could mix up some Welch’s grape concentrate and call that non-alcohol wine, but the non-alcoholic wines you buy at the store are different. They aren’t syrupy sweet. The sugars have been removed allowing the body and tannins to come forth and be the core of the juices character – just like an alcoholic wine would.

By far, the easiest way to remove the sugars from the juice is to have a fermentation that will turn the sugars into alcohol. This is what the commercial producers of non-alcoholic wines do. They ferment the juice and start out with an actual wine. Then the alcohol is removed. So when you ask: how do you make non-alcoholic wine?, the answer is: start with some alcoholic wine.

Anyone can take a juice and turn it into wine. That’s not the hard part. You make the wine as you normally would. The hard part is removing the alcohol from the wine. There are a couple of ways that the commercial producers of non-alcoholic wines go about doing this. Unfortunately, neither of them are practical for the home winemaker:

 

  • Distillation Shop Grape Concentrate
    The first way is to distill the alcohol off the wine. Steam it away. This would work okay for the home winemaker except that heating up the wine causes it to oxidize and turn brown very quickly. The wine becomes caramelized to an extent. Commercial producers have learned how to get around this by putting the wine in a very strong vacuum. As the vacuum increase, the steaming or boiling temperature of the alcohol becomes lower. They create a vacuum that is so strong that the boiling point of the alcohol is down into the 70°F. In effect, they can distill the alcohol off the wine without ever heating it up and causing the wine to oxidize.
  • Filtration
    The second way commercial producers make non-alcohol wine is through filtration. The wine is forced under high pressure against a membrane that is so fine that only the water and alcohol can seep through it. The wine is ran past the membrane over and over again until the wine becomes a concentrate. Water is then added back to bring the wine to its original concentration – only now, there is little to no alcohol present.

 

So as you can see, when you ask” how do you make non-alcohol wine?, there is no simple answer for the individual home winemaker. It requires both extensive apparatus and inside knowledge. It is technology that is way beyond the realm of what the typical home winemaker could accomplish at home.

Happy Wine Making,Shop Wine Making Kits
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.

Preparing Your Corks When Bottling Homemade Wine

Wine corks waiting to be prepared for bottling wine.Correctly preparing corks for bottling wine is important. Not only should the wine corks be sanitary, but they should be softened just enough to allow your corker to put them in the wine bottle with ease.

There are two basic ways to go about sterilizing and softening wine corks: This first involves submerging the corks in a solution of sodium metabisulfite and cold water. The second, involves steaming the corks in water.

 

Cold Soaking The Wine Corks:

Sodium metabisulfite and cold water makes a solution that will sanitize the corks. This solution can also soften the corks if they are allowed to soak long enough, usually over night, and it’s very simple to do.

Mix 1/8 teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite to each pint of water and submerge the wine corks in the solution. Corks like to float. So I have found that using a container with a lid of some type will help you to get this accomplished. Use the lid to push down the corks into the solution.Shop Sodium Metabisulfite

Let the wine corks soak long enough to make them slightly soft. You do not want the them to be spongy. You want them to be firm, but still give just a little. Remove the wine corks from the sanitizing solution and allow them to drain for a few minutes in a colander, strainer or something similar.

 

Steaming The Wine Corks:

Preparing corks for bottling by steaming them is much quicker than just soaking them, but it does take some care. It is very easy to over-steam the wine corks making them very spongy and hard to press into the wine bottle without mangling them.

Also, too much heat on the wine corks for too long will cause them to become brittle and crumble later on when they are pulled from the wine bottle.  Excessive heat denatures the wine cork causing it to deteriorate while in the bottle.

Bring a pot of water to a boil then turn the burner off. Put the corks on the steaming water and place a lid over them. In just a matter of 2 or 3 minutes the corks should show some signs of softening. Once you feel the corks firmness start to give – just a little – rinse them in cold water to cool them down. They are then ready to be used.

Under no circumstances would I recommend preparing the wine corks by steaming them for longer than 5 minutes.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

Which method you use for preparing corks for bottling is up to you. I feel the preferred method is to cold soak them, but if you forget to start that the day before bottling the wine, I can understand you wanting to steam the wine corks instead.
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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.

Blueberries Make Amazing Wine. Here’s A Recipe…

Homemade Blueberry WineIf you’ve never made wine before, I would submit to you that making a blueberry wine is a perfect place to start.

For one, blueberry wine is any easy wine to make. And, it only requires the most elementary pieces of wine making equipment. Secondly, it makes an INCREDIBLE wine. Blueberries, quite frankly, are well suited to making wine. The flavors come through fruity and bright.

Secondly, it’s springtime and blueberry season is just around the corner, so what better time to get your ducks-in-a-row and everything squared-away, so that when they do come in you’ll have exactly what you need and know what to do.

The blueberry wine recipe below is very simple to use. All you need are the ingredients listed and to follow the basic wine making directions that’s are on our website. The blueberries can be fresh or frozen. Either way will work equally well in the recipe.

To prepare the blueberries all that is required is that the berries be lightly crush. You can to this by hand, or you could use something like a potato masher. You do not want to crush the berries too much, and you definitely do not want to break any seeds. This could unnecessarily add a bitterness to the wine.Shop Grape Concentrate

 

Ed’s Blueberry Wine Recipe
(Makes 5 Gallons)

13 lbs. Blueberries (lightly crushed)
11 lbs. Cane Sugar (table sugar)
1 tbsp. Yeast Energizer
Pectic Enzyme (as directed on its package)
2 tbsp. Acid Blend
Red Star Montrachet Wine Yeast
10 Campden Tablets (5 before to fermentation, 5 before bottling) Shop Wine Conditioner

 

One of the fun thing about making your own wine is that you get to make it as sweet or as dry as you like. If you do nothing more than follow the directions, you will end up with a dry blueberry wine. But if you want to make a sweet wine, you can sweeten the blueberry wine to taste just before bottling. Just remember, if doing so, to also add potassium sorbate along with the Campden tablets called for in the blueberry wine recipe.

Now, doesn’t that sound simple? I imagine the hardest part is keeping your patience in tact. Be sure the fermentation has completed and give it plenty of time to clear up before bottling. Once in the bottle, realize that aging the wine will dramatically improve its quality over the first couple of 3 months. After that drink up.

If you need wine making equipment to make the wine, the “Your Fruit!” wine making kit is taylor-made for making this blueberry wine recipe. Not only does it have the equipment you’ll need, but it also has plenty of the basic wine making ingredients for making many different kinds of wine – all at a discounted price.Shop Wine Making Kits

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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.

10 Random Wine Making Tips And Tricks

Learning Wine Making TipsHere is a collection of wine making tips and tricks for beginners and more-seasoned home winemakers. This is advice that has been published throughout our various newsletters over the years. They are just bits and pieces of information that have proven to be useful to home winemakers and help keep them from making mistakes.

 

  1. I’ll put the most important of wine making tips, first. Control your fermentation temperatures. The number one reason for a failed fermentation is temperature. The ideal temperatures for a healthy fermentation is between 70° and 75°F. If the fermentation is cooler than this, the wine yeast will start to go dormant and become inactive. If the fermentation becomes warmer than this, you will be increasing the ability of mold and bacteria to take over the wine.
  1. It is possible to temporarily cut back the amount of water called for in a wine recipe in order to accommodate a fermenter that’s not quite large enough. For example, if you have a wine making kit that makes 6 gallons, but your primary fermenter will only hold 6 gallons to the brim, you can cut back on the water called for by 1/2 gallon to allow for the foaming until it is time to transfer it to your secondary fermenter. At that time the shorted water can be added to the batch. The water should be distilled water when added at this point. The maximum amount I recommend shorting the water in a given batch is 1 gallon to every 5 or 6 gallons. This is assuming that the shortage will be promptly made up when the wine is transferred to a secondary container.Shop Wine Kit Tips Book
  1. Don’t have time to make wine when your fruits are ready? That’s okay. Just put your wine making fruits in the freezer. Fruits that have been frozen tend to break down more readily when fermented anyway. This will allow more of the fruits character to be release into your wine must. Of all the wine making tips, I particularly like this one the best. It has afforded me ability to have time to make more wine throughout the year.
  1. If you have ever picked elderberries before you know that it can be a very time consuming task. Not only are the number of berries required to make a batch of homemade wine quite high, the amount of stems that are involve are just as bad. You can categorize this one under time saving wine making tips… When collecting the elderberries simply cut them off in clusters, stems and all. A tile knife works great for this. Put them all in a plastic trash bag or similar and freeze them for at least 2 days. Once the elderberry clusters have been frozen, inflate the trash bag with air, tie off its opening. Then violently shake or beat the bag against the ground. This will break most of the elderberries lose from the stems. Once this has been done sufficiently, clip a bottom corner of the plastic bag and the elderberries will come rolling out. You won’t get 100% of the berries out, so there will be some waste in the process. But, it is well worth the time that you will save.
  1. Shop Wine YeastBy storing your packets of fresh wine yeast in the refrigerator, you can double their shelf-life. Yeast stored in this way will always be good for at least two years after purchasing. If yeast is just stored at room temperature it is usually only good for about a year. It is important to note here that you never want to freeze yeast. Freezing yeast damages their cell walls making budding or reproducing very difficult during the fermentation.
  1. One easy way to warm up your fermenters during the cooler months is to use an old lamp with an old style 100 watt light bulb. If you place the bulb 12 inches off to the side of a 5 gallon batch, it will warm the liquid’s temperature by about 8 to 10 degrees. Wrap the vessel in a dark trash bag to protect the wine from the excessive light the bulb causes. If 8 or 10 degrees is too much of an increase, just back off the bulb another 1 or 2 inches away from your fermentation vessel. Use a stick-on thermometer on the opposite side the the fermenter to track the temperature.
  1. When taking a hydrometer reading, give the hydrometer a quick spin in the liquid to be tested, first. This is to dislodge any air bubbles that may be clinging to the side of the wine hydrometer. These bubbles can slightly throw off your reading.
  1. Shop Temp ProbeTo increase the body of a finished wine without making it sweeter, add 2 to 4 ounces of glycerine to each 5 gallon batch. Glycerine is a natural byproduct of a fermentation. It increases the viscosity or mouth-feel of a wine. Heavier red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are known for their body. With these wines the fuller body helps their flavor to linger on the taste buds a bit longer while also helping to reduce the wines rough edges.
  1. Of all the wine making tips I’ve seen or heard of, I believe this one has saved more wine than any other: When doing your first one or two rackings, don’t leave any wine behind – get it all. Even if it comes along with some of the sediment. With the earlier rackings all you need to be concerned about is getting rid of “most” of the sediment, not “all” of it. And particularly, not at the expense of loosing your precious wine. It is when you get down to the final racking, that it becomes important to leave all of the sediment behind – even at the expense of loosing a little wine. The last racking is the one that really counts. Heeding this wine making tip has saved me more wine than you’ll ever know.
  1. Instead of using cane sugar to sweeten your wines, try sweetening your wine with honey. Honey will enhance the complexity of the wine’s finish (aftertaste) and sweeten it at the same time. Remember to always add a wine stabilizer such as potassium sorbate when sweetening your wine with any type of sugar.

 

Shop Potassium SorbateThere you have it: 10 wine making tips to help your wine making efforts go a little smoother. I’ll go through the files and see if I can come up with any more. When I do, I’ll be sure to post them here.

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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.

photo credit: MTSOfan wine making 01 via photopin (license)

What’s The Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

Picture showing difference between Shiraz and Syrah.This is a story of two wines, Syrah and Shiraz, and how they both are the same, yet different. On the surface it seems to be somewhat of an exercise in semantics, with their names being the only difference, but after taking a closer look, it starts to become clear that there is much more to the story than just names.

The difference between Syrah and Shiraz teaches us a lesson, one that illustrates how a grape’s environment and the way in which it is processed can influence the outcome of a resulting wine.

Any wine expert will tell you that Syrah and Shiraz are two varietal wines that are made from the exact same grape. If you analyze the DNA of each grape used to make these wines you will find that there is no difference between them.

 

Then Why The Two Names?

The French refer to the grape and the varietal wine they make from it as Syrah. In other notable regions such as: South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, the grape and the wine is referred to as Shiraz.

But there is something more than just a difference in name. There is a difference in style and character as well. While both wines are very assertive red wines, a Syrah tends to be a little more elegant and complex. It usually has more of a smokey, earthy character with flavors of plum and spicy pepper. Shop Wine KitsA Shiraz on the other hand is more crisp and fruity, less layered with slight, jammy flavors of berry as compared to a Syrah. This is a very wide generalization of each wine, but even so, it would be safe to say that if you tasted both wines side-by-side you would notice more differences than similarities between the two.

 

So, Why Is There A Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah VineyardWhile the grape remains the same, in each wine there is so much else that is different. The soil, the climate, the cultivation, and the fermentation all vary to make a Syrah, a Syrah, and a Shiraz, a Shiraz.

While different soils can not assert their own character onto a grape, they can guide the way in which a grape develops its own flavor. This is referred to as the terroir of the wine. The French vineyards are heavy in limestone which can hold moisture better and deeper than most soils. This forces the vines to get more of their nutrients from deeper soils. The result is a wine with more layered, complex flavors.

Shop Wine PressThe French are not allowed to use irrigation or fertilization on their vines, either. This stems from governmental laws designed to keep the grape production limited. This leads to stressed vines with fewer berries, but with each berry packing more flavor.

This is all in contrast to places like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand where Shiraz grapes are produced in sandy soils with plenty of fertilization and irrigation. The cultivation is abundant. This creates a wine with a more even character than a Syrah and with the ability to mature more quickly.

The Syrah is also grown in France’s cooler climate. This lends to the plum-like, smokey character of this wine. This is in comparison to Shiraz which is grown in warmer climates which makes the wine more jammy and berry-like.

Even the rate of fermentation plays some role in the flavor development of the wine. A Syrah is fermented more slowly so as to increase the time the pulp can stay on the fermentation. A Shiraz is fermented at a faster, more-normal rate which helps to make the wine, in general, more fruity.

 

In Summary:

Shop Wine Making KitsSo as you can see there is much more than just the grape when it comes to bringing a wine to fruition. While a wine’s character always begins with the grape, it ends upon many other factors, including the human touch. There are many other examples of how this is true, but most not quite as clear as the difference between the Shiraz and Syrah.
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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 Homemade Wine Is Too Dry. Is There Anything I Can Do?

Zach Galifianakis who's homemade wine is too dry.I have a mustang grape wine that has been aging in a carboy. Last night I tried and it has a hydrometer reading of .992. When I tasted the wine, it was too dry for me. How can I sweeten up this wine to a semi sweet?

John
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Hello John,

One of the great things about making your own wine is that you get to drink it the way you want to – even if you want to drink it like our buddy Zach Galifianakis does. For me personally, this is the fun part of making homemade wine. Adjust it until you get the wine just the way you like it. This is something that can’t practically be done unless you are making the wine yourself. This is what makes this hobby so valuable.

In your case, you are not particularly happy with one of the basic features of the wine: the dryness or sweetness of the wine. You are saying that your homemade wine is too dry for your own personal taste. Fortunately, the solution is very simple. All you need to do is add sugar to the wine until it is at the sweetness you desire – custom made for you!Shop Wine Conditioner

It is important to remember that you do not want to adjust the sweetness of a wine until it has completely cleared up and is ready to bottle, so make sure the wine is ready to be bottled before adding the sugar.

At bottling time you can make the wine sweeter tasting. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to use Wine Conditioner. This is basically a sweetener and stabilizer combined together into a syrup. The stabilizer (potassium sorbate) makes sure that your wine does not start fermenting the new sugars while in the wine bottle.

You can also use your own sugar, honey, etc. to sweeten your wine, but you will also need to add potassium sorbate separately to eliminate any chance of the wine re-fermentating. So, as I think you can start to see, if your homemade wine is too dry, it’s not that big of a deal to fix.

If the sugar you are using is granulated, I would also suggest that you pre-dissolve the sugar into a syrup before adding it to the wine. This will help to eliminate the need for excessive stirring when adding the sugar.Shop Potassium Sorbate

When actually sweetening your wine it is best to sweeten a portion of the batch, first. For example, take a measured sample of the wine – say, one gallon – and add measured amounts of sweetener to it to establish a dosage to your liking. Once the dosage is determined you can then do the same thing to the rest of the wine. This insures that you do not get the entire batch too sweet.

If you do accidentally add too much sugar to the measured sample, just blend it back into the rest of the batch and start all over with a new gallon sample.

We also have an article on our website, Making Sweet Wines, that will have more information about what to do if your homemade wine is too dry. You may want to take a look at it as well.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed KrausShop Hydrometers

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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.

Crazy! But Why Is My Wine Turning Orange?

What you see when a wine turning orange.I recently made KenRidge Pinot Grigio and bottled it at the end of December. While the taste of the wine is fine, any wine leftover in the bottle (re-corked) for two days starts turning orange. The wine fermented correctly, all directions were followed, and the wine was filtered prior to bottling. Why is my wine turning orange? Is this a health hazard?, and is there anything I can do now to prevent this colorization?

Terry – OH
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Dear Terry,

The reason why your wine is turning orange is very simple: your wine is oxidizing.

Oxidation is a process that occurs when a wine is exposed to excessive oxygen for too long of time. In your case, once the cork is pulled from a wine bottle, you are allowing air to enter with the wine. This allows the oxidative process to start.Shop Potassium Bisulfite

This is no different that when an apple core turns brown. The first signs of your wine oxidizing will show itself as a light-orange tinge that will later turn to a light-amber, then dark-amber, then eventually brown. If you have ever seen a Sherry or a Port, these are examples of wines that are oxidized on purpose.

The wine is perfectly safe to drink. There is nothing going on that would make the wine harmful. However, you will probably notice some deterioration in the wine’s overall character. This is normally first noticeable as a loss of fruitiness and a collapse of any complexities the wine may have had. In other words, the wine will typically start to have a flat and lifeless impression. Then as the oxidation progress on you may start to notice a caramel or raisin smell, then in later stages, as a caramel or raisin taste.

There are some things you can do to help keep your wine from turning orange and experiencing the other effects of oxidation:

 

  • Shop Ascorbic AcidAdd sulfites to the wine at bottling time. Doing this will delay the oxidative process once the bottle has been opened. It will also help the wine to keep better while aging in the wine bottle.
  • Add ascorbic acid to the wine at bottling time. This will help to slow the effects of oxidation by lowering the wine’s pH.
  • Keep partial bottles in the refrigerator. Cooler temperatures will slow down the oxidative process as well as keeping the wine out of direct UV rays such as sunlight.
  • Use a Vacuvin Wine Saver on partial bottles. The Vacuvin Wine Saver allows you to pump air out of the wine bottle. This will slow the oxidative process, dramatically. This is a very effective way for you to keep your wine from turning orange since you are dealing will partial bottles of wine.
  • And, then there’s the solution I find most effective of all… drink the whole bottle!

 

If you want to read more about oxidation and why a wine will start turning orange you may also want to take a look at the article, “Controlling Oxidation In Your Homemade Wines.” Shop Vacuvin Wine Saver

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.

What Size Rubber Stopper Fits What?

Rubber Stopper That Is The Right SizeOne of things that almost every home winemaker uses is a rubber stopper. It’s used to attach an airlock to a plastic fermenter or wine carboy. The rubber stopper is tapered in shape, has a whole in it for the airlock, and comes in various sizes.

Knowing what size of rubber stopper to purchase can be of some issue. Whether you are using a gallon glass carboy or plastic fermenter makes a difference as to the size rubber stopper you need. I thought it would be nice to go over, “what size rubber stopper fits what”, since we offer 25 different sizes to choose from.

I should start of by saying that any bucket fermenter we offer takes a size #2 rubber stopper. This may not be the case with a fermenter purchased elsewhere. It depends on the size of whole the supplier decides to put into the plastic fermenter.

Glass carboys come in an array of sizes and take a different sized rubber stopper as the size changes. There are 6.5 , 6 , 5 and 3 gallon sizes. The rubber stopper size for each is as follows:

6.5 Gal. Glass Carboys (Size #6.5) Shop Carboys
6.0 Gal. Glass Carboys (Size #6.5)
5.0 Gal. Glass Carboys (Size #7)
3.0 Gal. Glass Carboys (Size #7)

7.0 Gal. Fermonster Large-Mouth (Size #10)
6.0 Gal. Fermonster Large-Mouth (Size #10)

You may need to size a plastic wine carboy with a rubber stopper as these have become more popular over time. A plastic carboy takes a size #10.0 rubber stopper regardless of its size.

Other sizes of rubber stopper you may need to know is are:

Wine Bottle Opening (Size #2.0)
Beer Bottle Opening (Size #2.0)
Large-Mouth Gallon Glass Jugs, Quick Quarter Turn Lid (Size #8.0)
Small-Mouth Gallon Glass Jugs, Thread-Down Lid (Size #6.0) Shop Wine Airlocks

Visit our website. It lists all of these rubber stoppers and more along with their dimensions.
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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.

Adding Yeast To Homemade Wine: Dried vs. Rehydrating

Checking temperature before adding yeast to homemade wine.Maybe you can answer a question that I have. When adding wine yeast to a juice or kit, do you need to place it in hot water as the directions say on the yeast package, or can you just sprinkle it onto the must? I noticed that some wine recipes call for the wine yeast to be placed in hot water first, and other recipes call for the yeast to be sprinkled on the top of the must. What is the best thing to do?

Eric L. – OH
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Hello Eric,

You are correct! There is some conflicting information running round when it comes to adding yeast to homemade wine. Almost all wine ingredient kit directions and wine recipes will say to sprinkle the dried wine yeast directly on top of the juice, but if you look at the packet of wine yeast itself, it will have directions that instruct you to put the yeast in warm water first. So, what should you do? How should you pitch the wine yeast?

Putting the wine yeast in warm water before adding it to a juice is a process called rehydration. What rehydration does is take a dried wine yeast and bring it back to an active state.Shop Wine Yeast

If you pitch the dried yeast directly into the wine must it will rehydrate and eventually start fermenting, anyway. So why do the yeast producers recommend this extra step before adding the yeast to the wine juice?

 

Why Rehydrate The Wine Yeast?

When a yeast cell rehydrates, its cell wall is swelling and gaining back its elasticity – its ability to flex and and be soft. This is a process that is prone to leaving a few cells damaged. In fact, a percentage of them don’t make it. But, by using plain water at an optimal temperature you are reducing the number of yeast cells that are being damaged during the rehydration process.

 

Why Sprinkle The Wine Yeast?

The reason wine ingredient kit producers, wine recipes, and even the directions on our website do not mention rehydrating before pitching the wine yeast is that many home winemakers – particularly beginners – do not perform the rehydration process correctly. Some tend to gloss over this procedure, not knowing its importance. This can cause more problems than if they had just added the dried yeast directly into the must.Shop Temp Probe

As an example, the typical rehydration directions for adding yeast to a homemade wine goes something like this:

“Dissolve the dried yeast in 2 ozs. of warm water (100° – 105° F.). Let stand for 15 min. without stirring. After 15 min. stir and add to must.”

These are great directions and should be the directions you use with the yeast that came in this packet, that is, if you follow the directions, exactly. But if you don’t follow the directions, exactly, then things can start to go wrong – very wrong!

It is important to understand that at 100° – 105° F. a small portion of the yeast cells are dying every minute, and as the temperature goes up an even larger number die every minute. What this means is that if a thermometer is not used to make sure that the water is at or below 105° F., or the yeast cells are allowed to stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes, too much, or potentially all of the yeast can be destroyed before making it to the juice or wine kit.

Shop Stir PlateA second complication is that it can take overnight or even a couple of days, for some, to discover that their wine is not fermenting or fermenting very sluggishly – much more so than if they’d just sprinkled the yeast onto the wine must in the first place. And this is a time that the wine is most susceptible to contamination and spoilage – before any alcohol has been made to help protect it. It needs an active fermentation to start up in a timely manner.

For this reason, wine kit producers elect to play it safe and advise that adding the yeast to your wine, that you sprinkle the dried yeast on top of the wine must. This is a much better option that having a first-time winemaker ruin their wine.

 

What Should You Do?

Regardless of what method you use for adding yeast to your homemade wine – sprinkle dried yeast on the must or rehydrate the yeast – some of the yeast cells will die before going into action. That’s just the way it is, but that’s okay. The number of yeast cells that are provided in each packet allow for this attrition. Just remember that if you do decide to rehydrate your wine yeast before pitching it, it is critical that you follow the directions closely with regards to temperature and time. If you’re not willing to go through the hassle, just sprinkle the yeast on the must.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed KrausShop Aeration System

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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.

Try This Trick When You Back Sweeten Wine

Funny Way To Back Sweeten WineI am making European Select Chardonnay. I will be ready to bottle in a week or so. I have not done the stabilization & clarification step yet, which is when I would normally back sweeten wine. Can I complete all the steps, bottle half of it, and THEN sweeten the other half? Will the potassium sorbate added at step 4 or adding some potassium metabisulfite hinder refermentation from adding wine conditioner for sweetness? Or is the your wine sweetener non-fermentable?

Betsy L.
Wisconsin (Go Pack, Go)
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Hello Betsy,

Thank you for your questions about how to back sweeten wine.

Your idea of – bottling half; then sweetening half; then bottling – is a great one. I have done this more than once. I’ve even divided one of my homemade wines into dry/semi-dry/medium. I think this is a great way to back sweeten wine because if gives you so many more options.Shop Wine Conditioner

And it’s simple to do. You should have no problems pulling it off. With your 30 wine bottles in play, there’s nothing wrong with giving them some variety by way of sweetness. As you have suggested you are bottling some of the wine, sweetening what’s in bulk than bottling that.

This method of back sweetening a wine works particularly well when you plan on gifting it or sharing it with friends. It gives you a way to tailor the gift to the person you are giving it to. Quite often we want to share our wine with family and friends who are not wine drinkers. Giving them a bottle of wine that is not bone-dry makes good sense.

As for your second question on the potassium sorbate: as long as the fermentation has completed and the wine has completely cleared, the potassium sorbate or potassium bisulfite will stop a re-fermentation from occurring in your wine bottles when back sweetening wine, but it is important that the wine be clear first, regardless of what day in the steps you are on. Wait an extra day or two if necessary. It won’t compromise your homemade wine in any way.Shop Potassium Sorbate

I would also suggest using our Wine Conditioner for the purpose of back sweetening the wine, just as you were planning. Wine conditioner is easy to use and has additional sorbate to help stabilize the wine. It will not adversely affect the wine in any way and will help to assure that your homemade wine does not experience a re-fermentation.

You can also back sweeten wine just by adding plain ole sugar. But if you decide to do this, I would highly recommend that you also add another 1/2 dose of potassium sorbate to the wine (1/4 teaspoon per gallon) in addition to what was with your wine ingredient kit. For others reading this, if you have not added any potassium sorbate from a kit or what-have-you, then add a full dose of potassium sorbate (1/2 teaspoon per gallon) when you back sweeten wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed KrausShop Wine Bottle Corkers

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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.