Is Oxygen Good Or Bad For Wine?

Wine being exposed to too much oxygen.Hello Kraus,

I just started to look into making wine. I read some articles on your website and others. One thing confusing me is it seems like oxygen in the wine is good when it is being made but bad after it is made. How can oxygen be both good and bad? Thanking you in advance,
Greg
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Hello Greg,

Oxygen plays a role in wine making in two distinctly different ways at two different stages: Early on it’s what allows the wine yeast to grow successfully, insuring a vigorous fermentation. Later on, it’s what allows the wine to develop and maturate during the aging process. The main difference between these two stages is how much oxygen is involved in each.

 

While the Wine is Being Made:

Lot’s of air exposure is good for the primary fermentation – the first 3 to 5 days. This is the when the wine yeast is trying to multiply itself into a colony that is about 100 to 200 times the little packet of wine yeast you originally put in the wine must. The yeast need this oxygen to multiply successfully.

A lot of CO2 gas from the fermentation is infused within the wine must at this point. CO2 is also coming off the fermentation as a gas. This makes it very hard for excessive oxygen to saturate into the wine and cause oxidation. This is why fermenting the wine with no air-lock is not an issue at this point.

But the rules change after the fermentation begins to slow down. This is usually around the fifth day. At this point, oxygen exposure should be kept to a minimum. Too much oxygen exposure can be bad for a wine at this point. The wine yeast have colonized into large enough numbers and no longer need to grow; the CO2 gas from the fermentation is starting to taper-off dramatically and is no longer able to protect the wine from the ill effects of excessive air and oxidation.

When transferring the wine off the sediment to another container (racking), any splashing should be eliminated as much as possible. The same holds true when bottling the wine. Splashing allows air to saturate into the wine very quickly. This is because the surface area of the wine is greatly multiplied when splashing occurs, increasing the level of contact with the air, exponentially.

 

While the Wine is Being Aged:

Shop FermentersOnce the wine has been bottled, oxygen begins its second distinctive role by facilitating the aging process. While air exposure should be kept to an absolute minimum, a very tiny amount is needed for proper aging. This is much, much less than the air needed to help the fermentation.

So tiny in fact that natural cork stoppers are perfect for this purpose. Cork stoppers allow very small amounts of oxygen to pass through over very long periods of time. This limited amount of oxygen is the catalyst that fuels the steady, even maturing of a wine.

The density and length of the cork stopper can actually determine the rate of aging. Synthetic corks, that are commonly found in wine bottle today, are even tested for their rate of air permeation (the rate at which air goes pass the cork).

 

So this is how oxygen can be both bad and good for wine. It’s a matter of how much and when. Learn to use oxygen as a tool in your wine making arsenal and you will become a better winemaker.

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.

5 Myths About Homemade Wine

Myth vs Reality About Homemade Wines.There are many misconceptions and misguided assumptions about making wine at home. Most all of them are perpetuated by individuals who never even tasted or made homemade wine. Others are simply born out of the mystique surrounding the commercial wine industry.

How can something so sophisticated be made at home?

Here are the ones that we run into the most. The ones that flat-out drive us silly every time we hear them.

  1. Homemade Wines Don’t Taste That Good.
    Without question, you can easily make wines that are just as good, if not better, than the wines you find on the store shelf. And not with practice, but with your very first batch.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done side-by-side, blind tastings with a challenging friend or an acquaintance between a glass of wine made from one of our wine ingredient kits and a glass of store bought wine, only to have the homemade wine win – hands-down.I’m not going to name any names, but I’m not talking about doing a blind tasting against the $8 stuff. I’m talking about higher dollar stuff that you’d buy to take to a dinner party, etc. Wouldn’t it be nicer to take your own personalized wine gift, that you made, to the party instead.
  1. Homemade Wine Takes A Lot Of Time To Make.
    Learning how to make your own wine is much easier than most individuals can even begin to imagine. It’s deceptively easy. There are a lot of wine making products on the market today that make it as simple as following a few directions.And, it doesn’t take that long. You can be bottling your first batch of wine in as little as 28 days. And as far as the time it takes out of your day, I’d say it doesn’t get any worse than the time it takes to bottle the wine – an hour to get it start, another half-hour to siphon it to a second container, etc.
  1. Making Homemade Wine Requires A Lot Of Expensive Equipment.
    This may have been partially true 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, depending on what type of wine you were making, you might need a grape crusher to crush the fruit and a grape press to press the fruit.Today it’s different. You don’t need to crush and press the fruit if you don’t want to. You can buy it already done for you. Now there are hundreds of wine making juices packaged up and ready for use from all over the world. You can get Cabernet grape from France, Shiraz grape from Australia, Merlot grape from California…  The choices are endlessShop Wine Making Kits.
  1. Homemade Wine Spoils Easy.
    Absolutely not. Homemade wine keeps just as good as commercially made wine. There is no difference in the keeping abilities between the two. There is no reason for one to keep better than the other. They are both made the same way from the same basic wine making materials. One’s just on a smaller scale than the other.I currently have several bottles of homemade wine that have been in my cellar aging since 1998 and 2002 and I would not hesitate to drink them myself or serve them to my friends and family.
  1. Making Homemade Wine Is Illegal.
    Wrong! Ever since October 14, 1978 it has been perfectly legal for Americans to make their own wine and beer. This is when President Jimmy Carter signed into law legislation introduced by Senator Alan Cranston of California.You can make up to 100 gallons per year. If you live in a household with another adult, you can make up to 200 gallons per year. It can be for your own personal consumption or to hand out has wine making gifts to friend and relatives. Just make sure you don’t sell it. That would be illegal!

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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 Happened! There Is No Alcohol In My Wine!

Hydrometer Giving ReadingOk I need a wine making for dummies book! I am attempting to make a strawberry wine using fresh berries. I followed my recipe as directed. I just racked it for the first time. I checked my alcohol content and it is zero!! And it is bitter, as if I did not even put sugar. It is a 2 gallon batch. What can I do to fix this???

Name: Kathaleen W.
State: LA
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Hello Kathaleen,

Everything you stated above indicates that your strawberry wine is doing fine. The zero reading you got — with what I am assuming was a wine hydrometerdoes not mean your wine has zero alcohol. It means that there is no more alcohol that can be made from the sugar you added. Let me explain.

A fermentation is all about turning sugar into alcohol. The wine yeast consumes the sugar and metabolizes it into alcohol, along with CO2 gas. As the wine ferments, the sugar level goes down and the alcohol level goes up. If a fermentation is completely successful, the sugars will be completely gone.

Your hydrometer is not reading how much alcohol is in your wine. It is reading how much more alcohol can be made with the sugars that are currently in the wine. That is why the scale you are reading is called “potential” alcohol. It is telling you that the fermentation has the potential to make 0% more alcohol with the sugar that is currently in the wine — which is none.

You already stated that your wine taste bitter, “as if I did not put in sugar“. This makes perfect sense and matches up to the fact that you have a potential alcohol reading of zero — zero potential, zero sugar.

To know how much alcohol is in the wine, now, you have to have a potential alcohol reading from the beginning of fermentation — on that was taken at the same time you mixed all the ingredients together and added the wine yeast. As an example, if you had a beginning potential alcohol reading of 12% and you now have a potential alcohol reading of 0%, that tells us that your wine has a alcohol level of 12%. It’s the beginning reading minus the current reading.

Obviously, you are not happy with your wine, and I understand, completely. I doubt if I would like it either, based on what your described. You do not want your wine bitter and bone-dry. You’ll be happy to know that both of these characteristics are completely normal, and expected, at this point in the wine making process.

The main reason your wine is bitter is because it has not yet had time to clear and age. The wine will change remarkably between now and the time you bottle your wine. And the best part is you don’t have to do a thing except wait and be patient. What you are tasting now is mostly wine yeast, and proteins from the strawberries such as tannin. All of these things will make the wine taste bitter. Once they have had time to drop out you will notice an unbelievable improvement.

If you do not want your wine to be dry but sweet, that’s okay, but now’s not the time to be concerned with this either. You will want to back-sweeten the wine just before bottling it. Just sweeten it with a sugar syrup to taste and then add a wine stabilizer at the same time to keep it from fermenting the new sugars while in the wine bottle. That would be a bad thing.Shop Winemaking For Dummies

As a final note, there is such a book called Home Winemaking For Dummies as you have mentioned in your message. It’s a terrific book and would urge any home winemaker to add it to their book collection.

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.

Controlling Your Wine’s Acidity With An Acid Testing Kit

Holding Glass Of WineOne of a wine’s primary flavor elements is acidity. Wines that are high in acid will taste sharp or sour, while wines low in acid will taste lifeless or flabby. Without a doubt, having the proper amount of acid is crucial to the flavor of your wine.

In many fruit wine recipes, the amount of acid or acid blend that should be added to the wine must is listed right along with the other wine making ingredients. By adding the acid blend called for, you are bringing the acid level of the wine up to a normal flavor range.

The reason you are able to get your wine into a proper range using these wine recipes with no issue is primarily because they are made up of a significant amount of water. This makes the amount of acid blend needed very predictable since a only a fraction of the total acidity is coming from the fruit itself.

But there are situations where acidity is not so predicable and acid readings need to be taken to know how much acid blend, if any, needs to be added. Such is usually the case when making wine from actual wine grapes, where the wine is made up of 100% grape juice with no water. If the acidity of the grapes are unusually high or low in a particular year, the flavor of the resulting wine will be negatively affected. In this scenario, taking an acid reading with an acid testing kit can be just as critical as taking a sugar level reading with a wine hydrometer.

Acid readings are normally taken right before fermentation, or right after the grapes have been ran through the grape crusher. Adjustments may be made at this time based on the reading given.

Shop Grape ConcentrateTaking readings with an acid testing kit is very straight-forward. Essentially, what you are doing is preforming a titration. A drop or two of activator is added to a measured sample of the wine. Then measured amounts of a reagent are added to the wine until you detect a permanent color change in the wine sample. By knowing how much reagent it took to change the wine’s color, you can accurately calculate the wine’s acid level. You can read more about this in the blog post Use an Acid Test Kit.

If the acidity is too low you add acid blend; if the acidity is too high you can dilute with water. We also have wine making products such as acid reducing crystals that are designed to reduce the acidity of the wine. The acid reducing crystals come with directions that will tell you how much to add to reduce the acidity by a specific amount.
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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.

Is A Wine Refractometer A Good Alcohol Tester For Wine?

Refractometer With Grape Being SqueezedI have been told that a wine refractometer works real nice as an alcohol tester for my wine must and also at the end is this true?

Gary
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Hello Gary,

Thanks for the great question. Testing the alcohol level of a wine is a subject that always seems to have some confusion among home winemakers.

A refractometer can not be used as an alcohol tester for wine. It will not test the alcohol level. A refractometer will only test the sugar level of a wine must or finished wine. This is no different than what a wine hydrometer can actually do. They both measure the sugar in a wine, not the alcohol.

By comparing two sugar level readings, one taken before the fermentation and another after, you can determine how much alcohol was made. This is because wine yeast consume sugar and turn some of it into alcohol. If you know how much sugar was consumed by the wine yeast, you can then determine how much alcohol was made.

This principal is exactly the same for a refractometer as it is for a hydrometer. Neither are alcohol testers, but they will allow you to calculate the alcohol level of a wine must or finished wine by comparing a current sugar reading (brix) with a beginning reading.

What makes the refractometer extremely useful — and more handy than a hydrometer in some cases — is that you can take accurate sugar readings with very small liquid samples — just a couple of drops is all that is needed. This makes it ideal for checking the ripeness of the grapes while out in the vineyard. You only need to squeeze the juice from a single grape to see how sweet the grapes are becoming. This is very valuable when trying to determine when to pick your grapesShop Refractometers.

Alternately, the hydrometer needs enough sample for it to float. This could take as much as 4 or 5 ounces of wine or must. A hydrometer jar is also needed to hold the sample. So as you can see more time and effort is involved to take a reading with a hydrometer. This pretty much rules out taking a sugar reading on the fly as you might with a refractometer.

Gary, to answer your question more directly, a refractometer is a great tool for any winemaker to have. It is very handy, and it provides a quick way to get a sugar reading almost anytime, anywhere. But a wine refractometer is not an alcohol tester. It will not directly give you the alcohol level of your wine. This can only be done by comparing a beginning reading (before fermentation) with a current reading.

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.

Keeping Fruit Wines In Fruity Balance

Balancing Wine Making Fruit

Thank you for your wine making newsletter each month. It is very informative and helpful to me in my winemaking.  I have a question, “How do I keep the  fruit flavor in my wine? I end up with about 13 percent alcohol content but am losing the fruit flavor. Could you help?

Ed H.
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Hello Ed,

Thank you for all the kind words. We try very hard to bring useful, relevant information to the home winemaker.

What your question really involves is the basic balance of the wine. There are three primary elements in a wine’s basic balance profile: fruit flavor, alcohol and sweetness.

Obviously, the amount a fruit that you use in a wine recipe will affect the wine’s fruitiness. The more fruit in the wine recipe, the fruitier the wine will be, but there are limits to how far you can take this.

Using too much fruit in an attempt to increase the wine’s fruitiness can create a wine that is sharp or tart tasting. This is caused by excess fruit acid – the acid that is in the fruit. It can also create a wine that takes an incredible amount of time to completely age. So, there is only so much fruitiness to be had in a given wine recipe.

One way of maximizing the amount of fruit you use without making it too acidic is to using an acid testing kit. This will allow you to monitor how much acid is in the wine. The direction that come with it will tell you what range to shoot for.

While adding more fruit increases the fruitiness of the wine, alcohol decreases it. This happens simply because the alcohol is numbing the tongue making it less sensitive to fruit flavors. This is why you will typically find among wine recipes in various wine making books and on the web, that the higher the alcohol level, the more fruit the wine recipe will call for.

Shop Acid Test KitTo keep a handle on your wine’s acidity level, you will want to use a wine hydrometer. The scale on the hydrometer will tell you how much alcohol can be made with the beginning sugars that are in the wine must.

Sweetness also plays a role in balance. During a fermentation all the sugars are turned into alcohol, even the sugars that come from the fruit itself. Removing the sugars will lower the fruity impression of the wine, dramatically.

The good news is the sweetness of the wine can easily be corrected at bottling time. By adding a little sugar syrup solution you can bring back the fruitiness. Just a very slight amount of sweetness can bring out a lot of fruitiness in the wine. You don’t necessarily need to make the wine sweet. You just need to take the dry edge off the wine.

Add the sugar to taste and then also add potassium sorbate. This is a wine stabilizer that will keep the wine from fermenting the newly added sugars. This is what I recommend doing with your current batch.

As for future batches, you will want to lower you target alcohol level a little… maybe 11% instead of 13%. This will make a noticeable difference in the fruitiness of your wine. It will seem more lively and less watery.

By working with these three basic elements of a wine: fruit flavor, alcohol, and sweetness, you can control how much fruity character your wine will, or will not, have. It is up to you to create a wine the way you like it, with the amount of fruitiness you prefer. It’s all part of learning how to make your own wine.

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.

Is There Something To Add To Stop A Fermentation?

Mad Scientist With Something To Add To Stop A Wine FermentationHello,

At times my plum wine will appear to have stopped fermentation, and then after bottling it will start up again causing a big mess. Is there something I can add to the wine that will ensure that fermentation has stopped?

Albert W.
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Dear Albert,

It sounds like you are experiencing a stuck fermentation. There are several wine making books that cover this topic in fair detail. One that I might suggest is First Steps In Winemaking.

A stuck fermentation is when the yeast stop consuming the sugars before the sugars are all gone. There are several reasons why this could be happening: lack of nutrient, lack of oxygen, too cool of temperature… For more information about these reasons you can read the following article, Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure.

A stuck fermentation can start up again if the conditions change. In your case, just the simple exposure to air that inadvertently happens during the bottling process could be enough to start the wine fermenting again.

Unfortunately, there are no wine making products that guarantee a complete stop of a fermentation or a re-fermentation. What has to happen, is the fermentation needs to fully complete before bottling. The big question is, “How do you know when the wine’s done fermenting”?

Shop HydrometersOne simple way is to take a reading with a wine hydrometer. The hydrometer is a simple glass instrument that can instantly tell you how much sugar, if any, is in your wine or must. Using the hydrometer is simple. You take a reading by observing how high or low the hydrometer floats in the wine. By taking a reading before bottling and confirming no sugars are present, you can bottle your wine knowing that it will not ferment later on in the wine bottles.

As a side note, once you have verified that the fermentation has completed and the wine has had plenty of time for the yeast to settle out, you can add sugar for sweetening, but you must also add potassium sorbate at the same time. Potassium sorbate can keep a fermentation in check, but only if all of the yeast as been settled and removed from the wine first, and the wine looks visibly clear.

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.

Why Does My Wine Taste Better The Next Day?

Wine Poured From A CarafeI really enjoy the wine making information in your newsletters. I bottled my first wine, a California Merlot, last May. It aged in 6.5 L carboys and had 8 months of French oak chips. I racked it twice. It is still a bit young, but interestingly, if I decant the wine and drink it 24 hours later, it is a much better wine. Can you speculate as to why does my wine taste better the next day?

James — MI
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Hello James,

The wine taste better the next day because you are allowing time for it to breathe. What is really going on when a wine breathes is it is being introduced to fresh air again, something that it hasn’t had contact with for quite some time. By pulling the cork and simply letting the wine bottle stand or by pouring the wine into a carafe, the air will start a mild oxidative process that will soften the rough edges of the wine’s tannins.

It also allows time for any odd gasses to escape that may have developed during the aging or maturation process. Allowing a wine to breathe has also been known to intensify both the flavor and bouquet of a wine — something that can be a problem for wines that have not been fully aged, however this is not true in every case.

While allowing time for the wine to breathe can be a benefit for some, for most it will have no benefit at all, and for others it may even bring damage, particularly with older wines whose flavor structure has been known to collapse very shortly after decanting. The wines that are most likely to benefit from breathing are younger, heavy reds that have not yet had time to take complete advantage of the aging process. And, it just so happens that young, red wines is whats readily available to the home winemaker.

How long you should let the wine breath is another issue. Usually we are talking minutes not hours. More than likely 60 minutes would have been just as good as waiting for the next day to drink your homemade Merlot. As a general rule-of-thumb the younger the wine the more time it may need to take full advantage of breathing, but to say a wine needs until the next day to breathe is excessive from any perspective. Think in terms of a few minutes with a probability of improvement on up to an hour.shop_wine_making_kits

With all this being said, unless you have previous experience with decanting a specific wine, giving it time to breath can be a bit of a crap shoot. In the case of your Merlot, you have specific experience with it, so I would not hesitate to let it breathe for 30 minutes and see what you think.

In the case of an unfamiliar wine: if it is white, allowing time for it to breathe is pointless; if it has been aged more than 4 years, not recommended; and if it has been aged 8 or more years, it could be risky in the sense that the wine’s structure could collapse altogether giving the wine a flabby character. Stick with the red wines that are heavy in tannins and short on aging.

James, I hope this answers your question as to why your wine tastes better the next day. You are not the first to bring this up, and I have even experience myself. Just look at allowing wine time to breathe as once more tool that can help you get better enjoyment out of the wines you’ve made.

Happy Winemaking,
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.

Wine Recipe Idea: Bananaberry Wine

Bananaberry WineYou can never have too many fruit wine recipes, so here’s one I thought you might like to try.

Part of the fun of making your own wine comes from the fact that you get be a little creative when making them – to let your experimental-side flourish a little. That’s exactly how this particular wine recipe came into being.

Last year I was thinking about different fruits and how their flavors differ and how some attack the palate in completely different ways than other. After thinking through the different fruit wines I have made and tasted, I came up with this fruit wine recipe.

My goal was to end up with a fruit wine with an array of flavors that complimented one another… a homemade wine that was pleasant and well balanced.

 

Bananaberry Wine Recipe

  • 6 lbs. Peeled & Sliced Bananas
  • 3 lbs. Crushed Blackberries
  • 6 lbs. Chopped Strawberries
  • 10-1/2 lbs. Cane Sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Pectic Enzyme
  • 5 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient
  • 2-1/2 tablespoon Acid Blend
  • 1 Pkg. Wine Yeast: Lalvin D-47 (recommended)
  • Water to total batch to 5 gallons

 

Shop Wine Making Kits

 

Making this wine off-dry, with a little bit of sweetness with bring out its fruitiness much more clearly. Essentially, you can do this by adding sugar and potassium sorbate at bottling time to taste. You can find more details about making the wine sweeter by taking a look at Making Sweet Wines listed on our website. You don’t necessarily need to make the wine sweet — unless you want to — but taking it away from being completely dry will open up the fruit flavors, significantly.

For the basic directions on how to make this wine, follow the 7 Easy Steps To Making Wine at the following link to our web site:

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.

10 “More” Random Wine Making Tips And Tricks

Wine Pouring Into Glass With NotesLast month I posted 10 wine making tips and tricks. It received such a great response that I decided to post 10 more of them. These are quick, little tips that I have used over the years and have always been useful. I hope you find them useful as well…

 

  1. Try using glycerine in your air-locks instead of water. Glycerine does not evaporate like water, and it is perfectly safe if it accidentally gets drawn into your wine. In fact, any way already has some glycerine in it, naturally!
  1. Add one can of our County Fair Fruit Base to any SunCal Concentrate wine recipe to make your own boutique wines. For example make a Raspberry-Zinfandel or a Blackberry-Merlot. Of all the wine making tips, this one is my favorite. I love getting creative with these juices!
  1. Using a fermentation bag is a great way to keep pulp under control during a primary fermentation. Just pour your crush fruit into the bag and suspend it in the wine must during the primary fermentation. When it’s time to rack the wine, simply pull the bag out; allow to drain; and then discard pulp. This wine making tip is primarily for making fruit wine, but it will save you a lot of time.
  1. When Campden tablets are called for in a wine recipe, you can use potassium metabisulfite instead. Potassium metabisulfite has the same active ingredients as Campden tablets, but comes in a much-easier-to-manage, granulated form. You can also use our Campden tablet measurer which is a little spoon that measures out one Campden tablets worth of potassium metabisulfite at a time.
  1. IfShop Potassium Bisulfite you’ve ever made wine from fresh elderberries, then you know that it can leave a sticky, gooey mess in your fermenter – one that is next to impossible to get out. This tacky mess seems to defy even the strongest cleaners available. Well, we have ran across a product that seems to be able to cut through this mess and take it right off. It’s called Goo Gone ™. It’s a citrus based cleaner that has the right mojo to take off the elderberry resin. You can find it in any full line grocery store, in the household cleaning section. I have no affiliation with this product or its manufacturer. I just think it’s great stuff.
  1. Sometimes it’s hard to tell just how clear your wine is when it’s still in bulk. Trying to determine if it is clear enough for bottling can be a difficult task. Heavier, darker wines often need to have a sample drawn off and put into a glass before you can really begin to determine anything. The same goes for any wine that is in a vessel which is not made of a clear material. One simple wine making tip that has worked well for me in the past, is to turn off all the lights in the room, and shine a strong flashlight through the side-wall of the vessel. What you are looking for is to see how clearly the beam of light illuminates through the wine. Some diffusing will occur with darker wines because of its color pigmentation. But, you do not want to see a murky or milky appearance to the light.
  1. If Shop Wine Making Kitsyou’ve never made wine before and don’t know where to begin, I recommend starting with one of our wine making starter kits. They have all the equipment and ingredients you need to get started. But more importantly, they come with very complete directions that apply to specifically what’s in front of you – no guesswork. We have one kit for making wine with your own fruit. There’s an economy wine making kit that includes a can of SunCal Vinyards concentrate. Then there’s the starter wine making kit that can be used with any wine ingredient kits.
  1. The number one reason that a wine fails to clear up after fermentation is that it is still fermenting. A very slight fermentation can keep a lot of sediment stirred up. If your wine is not clearing, the first thing I recommend you do is check the wine with a hydrometer to see if residual sugar is the problem.
  1. Use our Senior air-lock during the more active period of a secondary fermentation to keep up with the higher volumes of CO2 gas that is being released. As the fermentation slows down, switch to an S-shaped airlock like our triple ripple airlock, to help detect slighter amounts of fermentation. The triple ripple airlock is great for displaying even the slightest amount of activity.
  1. When making elderberry wine, plan on it tasting horrible when it’s first done. But, also plan on it tasting incredible once it has had time to age. Elderberry wine is very high in tannic acid which makes it taste very harsh in the beginning. But, it is this same tannic acid that also allows this wine to take extreme advantage of the aging process. The net result is a wine of stellar quality. All you need is the patience to let it sit for a year or so.Shop Airlocks

 

Bonus Wine Making Tip: Not sure what size cork, screw cap or plastic stopper you need for your odd-size jugs and bottles? Get a a sample pack of closures. It contains one sample of each of the various sizes and types of bottle closures that we carry. Each is clearly labeled for easy identification when you order.
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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.