6 Tips For Using An Acid Test Kit

Sample For Using With An Acid Test KitI have the hardest time with the acid titration kit as far as finding the right color stop (acid level) any suggestions on using an acid testing kit, how to tell when to stop at the right level.

Manuel Q. – NM
Hello Manuel.

For those of you who have never used an acid test kit: basically what you are doing is taking a measured sample of wine and slowly adding sodium hydroxide to it until the wine permanently changes color. By knowing how much sodium hydroxide it took to get the color change, you can determine you wine’s acidity level.

An acid test kit can be a little awkward to use until you get the hang of it. I sometimes suggest to customers that they practice on some finished wine, first, before they actually need to use it. Here are some additional information for using an acid test kit. These are tips that go beyond the instructions you typically find with a titration kit.


  1. Run Through A Quick Test
    When I’m using the acid test kit, the first thing I like to do is go through a test quickly. This is to establish “about” where the color change will occur. Then when doing a second test, I start off by adding enough sodium hydroxide to get close to the point of a color change. Then I add the sodium hydroxide one drop at a time. Adding the bulk of the sodium hydroxide all at once will save you a lot of time and aggravation in the long-run. With each drop you will want to shake the test-tube and see that either a magenta or grey color is dissolving completely away in the sample of wine. Streaks of either color are okay. They just need to be swirled out. It’s when the color stays permanently and alters the color of the entire sample. That’s when you want to take your measurement reading.
  1. Use A White Background 
    This tip for using an acid test kit is the one I think is the one that is most helpful. By holding the test tube up to a white background like a wall or sheet of paper you will be able to discern the color change more easily. You are essentially blocking out colors from the room, giving you a cleaner frame of reference when taking a titration of the wine.Shop Acid Test Kit
  1. Use A Second Wine Sample For Comparison  
    Having a second test tube with another wine sample for comparison may be helpful. Put them side-by-side. Expect the color of the sample being tested to get lighter and lighter as more sodium hydroxide is added. That’s okay. You are not comparing the lightness or the darkness between the two wine samples. You are comparing the color hue of the two wine samples. 
  1. Dilute The Wine’s Color  
    This tip for using an acid test kit does not apply to every wine. If the color of the wine is too opaque to see a color change, you can dilute it. Some red wines are just to dark for performing a titration. You can dilute it with distilled water. You do not want to use tap water or drinking water. Use distilled water, only. Dilute as much as you need to. This will not alter at what point the color change will occur or the math you use to calculate it. 
  1. Make Sure The Wine Is Free Of CO2   
    The wine sample needs to be flat. You do not want CO2 (carbonation) from the fermentation to be in the wine sample. Carbon dioxide will throw off your reading. For this reason, the most opportune times to test your wine is before fermentation and before bottling. The wine must should be free of CO2 at both these times. If you are making your wine from fresh fruit, I would recommend testing at both times. The acidity level can change during a fermentation. The first test is to get the acidity close so that the fermentation can be healthy. Acidity plays a role in how well a yeast ferment. The test before bottling is to adjust for flavor – flat vs. tart flavors.
  1. Make Sure The Acid Test Kit Is Still Good    Shop Acid Reducing Crystals
    Here is the last tip for using an acid test kit. Both the activator and the reagent in your acid test kit will get old with time. This can throw off a titration reading – sometimes significantly. For this reason, it is not a bad idea to store these ingredients in the refrigerator for longer shelf-life. If you are not sure how old your acid test kit is, you can run a test on Welch’s grape juice – not from concentrate, straight Welch’s grape juice off the store shelf. It should have a reading of .67%-tartaric. If you get a reading that is higher than this, it means that your reagent (sodium hydroxide) is old and does not have its full strength.


Using an acid test kit is a great way for controlling your wine’s acidity. Hopefully these tips for using the acid test kit will help to make the process a little easier and an little more accurate.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus

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

No-Bull Directions For Using One Step No Rinse Cleanser

One Step No Rinse CleanserThe directions on the container of One Step No Rinse Cleanser simply say to rinse your equipment with the solution. Is there a minimum amount of contact time one must allow for the solution to work prior to using the sanitized equipment? The results of an online search stated anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. I know the safe route would be to let it sit for at least 2 minutes, but I’d rather not stand there waiting if I don’t have to.

Name: Paul
State: Missouri
Hello Paul,

The One Step No Rinse Cleanser is actually an oxygenating cleanser. This means that it uses a burst of oxygen from the solution to do the sanitizing. This high oxygen level actually destroys any unwanted microbes.

The great thing about any oxygenating cleanser is that it gives the biggest burst of oxygen while the solution is evaporating off the surface of what is being sanitized. In other words, the contact time with the solution is not what really matters. What matters is that the solution be allowed to evaporate without interruption after being taken out of the solution. The amount of time in the One Step solution is not critical. This is way the directions seem so vague.

The only situation when the length of time would matter is if you are treating a piece of equipment that has a lot of tight spots, or has a surface that is complex and Shop Basic A Cleansernot smooth. A couple examples of this would be a nylon brush or a straining screen. In both cases you would want to give “some” time for the solution to work its way in between and onto the surface of each nylon bristle or into the corner of each square of the screen. This could require a few seconds due to the surface tension of the solution.

The flip-side of this is when sanitizing a surface that is smooth, like glass, no time is required in the solution at all. Just dip or apply with a rag and allow to evaporate. Again, the evaporation from the surface is what’s key, not the time in the solution.

If you want to get the most out of the One Step No Rinse Cleanser you would allow your equipment to dry completely before using. However, I understand that following such directions would not be practical in a lot of situations, since it would make things way too time consuming. So as a matter of practicality, I would follow these directions: dip or or wipe with a rag the equipment with the solution of One Step No Rinse Cleanser, then allow to dry for 5 minutes.

One final not I’d like to make is that the One Step No Rinse Cleanser is not a Shop Sanitizerssoap or detergent in any way. It is not designed for or intended to release grime from your wine making equipment. This is something that needs to be done with a dish soap or similar, beforehand. The One Step No Rinse Cleanser is strictly for sanitizing your wine making equipment. It is designed to kill any molds, bacteria, etc.

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

I Put Too Much Sugar In My Wine!

Sugar In Wine MustTo keep a long story short, while mixing ingredients for the first fermentation, instead of 2 pounds of sugar called for in the wine recipe, 4 pounds made it into the bucket. I let it go for the first fermentation. The hydrometer reading is 1.106. Could I add water to lower sugar concentration for the fermentation?
Thank you.

Name: Jan R
State: Ohio
Hello Jan,

Adding an additional 2 pounds of sugar to the wine must is not as serious as you might think. Assuming this is a 5 gallon batch, the extra sugar will raise the final alcohol level by about 2%, so while you may have put too much sugar in the wine, it is far from being a disaster.


The general rule-of-thumb is for every pound of sugar you add to a 5 gallon
batch of wine, you increase the potential alcohol by 1%.


Based on your beginning Specific Gravity reading of 1.106 you took with your hydrometer, you have a beginning potential alcohol right at 14%. That means you have enough sugar in the wine must for the yeast to ferment 14% worth of alcohol content. If you can live with this, then doing nothing is your best course of action. Just finish the fermentation as you normally would.

If you would like, you can dilute the wine with water, but this will bring up another problem and that is the wine’s acidity or its tartness. Diluting the flavor profile of a wine with water is one thing. You can get away with reducing the intensity of the flavor without having too much noticeable overall affect on the wine. But you are diluting the acidity at the same time. Acidity is something that is very noticeable when it’s diluted. Because of this, an adjustment would need to compensate for the lowering of the acid level. This can be done by adding Acid Blend to the wine must.Shop Hydrometers

Now the question is: how much water and Acid Blend should you add? Again, I am going to assume this is a 5 gallon batch of wine.

You can use something called a Pearson’s square to calculate how much water to add to bring the potential alcohol down to its intended level, but I’ll do that for you, now. You need to add .83 gallons of water to the entire batch to bring the potential alcohol down from 14%  to 12%. This works out to 3 quarts and 8.5 fluid ounces of water.

Now, you need to figure out how much Acid Blend needs to be added to compensate for the addition of .83 gallons of water. This leads me to my second rule-of-thumb:


For every teaspoon of Acid Blend you add to a gallon of liquid,
you will raise the total acidity by .15%.


With a target range of around .65% to .75% TA, this means you would want to add between 4.33 and 5 teaspoons of Acid Blend per gallon of water. You would be adding .83 gallons — not a whole gallon — so this would adjust the range of Acid Blend needed for the batch to somewhere between 3.6 and 4.1 teaspoons. You could also use an our Acid Test Kit to take an acid reading after the water has been added and adjust according.

Shop Acid Test KitYou can add both the water and Acid Blend anytime you like during the winemaking process. The effects of both are immediate on the wine. The only thing you need to know is that if you add the water after the fermentation has completed, it needs to be distilled water. Using tap or bottled drinking water at this time would be introducing free oxygen into the wine and promote oxidation. Distilled water has no free oxygen.

As I’m sure you can start to see, there is a lot to be said for just leaving the wine alone and let is go as is, but if you feel that 14% alcohol is something you can’t live with, there are options. As I mentioned before, while you did put too much sugar in the wine must, the total effect on the resulting will not be disastrous or out ruinous. Either way I’m sure you wine will come out just fine.

Accidentally putting too much sugar in a wine must is something that happens from time to time. I know I’ve added to much sugar to my wine before, and I know lots of others have. Just realize that regardless of how bad the situation, there is usually a solution to remedy the problem.

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

5 Tips For Using A Wine Press

Using A Wine PressHere are five tips for using a wine press. This are basic tips that will help you get the most out of your press. Learning how to make wine using a wine press is very straight-forward. Even so, this tips should help you avoid the pitfalls we see most often.

  1. You Can Press More Than Just Grapes With A Wine Press:
    While wine presses are sold with the intent of being used for making grape wine, they work perfectly fine for pressing other fruits. Everything from tiny elderberries on up to apples can be pressed with a wine press.
  1. Before Using A Wine Press, All Fruits Must Be Crushed:
    While you can press a variety of fruits with a wine press, it is important that the fruit be crushed beforehand. This is true whether you are pressing grapes, blueberries or pears. Depending on the amount of fruit you are dealing with: you can crush the fruit by hand; you can use a blunt object such as the butt end of a 2X4; or you can get an actual grape crusher to do the work for you.
  1. Before Using A Wine Press, The Stems Should Be Removed:
    This primarily applies to pressing grapes. Some stems are alright, but excessive stems left in with the pulp can cause your resulting wine to have excessive tannin. This can give it an astringent flavor. The astringency can age-out over time, but the result of that would be a dark, dusty sediment forming in the bottom of your wine bottles. To remove the stems you can pick the grapes from them, but if you have a larger amount you may want to invest in a grape de-stemmer that does the process for you. A grape de-stemmer typically will crush the grapes as well, so you can handle both process with one piece of wine making equipment.
  1. Whites Are Pressed Before Fermentation, Reds After:
    Shop Wine PressesThis one often throws a lot of beginning winemakers off. Many assume that the grapes are always pressed before fermenting. In the case of making a white wine, they would be right. The grapes are de-stemmed, crushed, pressed and then fermented. However, when making a red wine, you want to de-stem, crush, ferment and then press. Having the pulp in during the fermentation is what gives a red wine its ‘red’. It is also what gives these wines more body than most whites. If the pulp were not in a fermentation you would end up with a blush wine.
  1. Choose A Wine Press That’s The Right Size For You:
    Wine presses come in all sizes. In general, they all press with the same amount of pressure and extract the juice with the same amount of efficiency. It is simply a matter of how much wine press do you need. Too much press and you won’t be able to fill the pressing basket all the time. Not enough press and you’ll be using a wine press all weekend. All the wine presses we list on our website also have listed how many pounds of fruit they will hold and the approximate number of gallons of juice you can expect with each pressing.

I am sure there are others, but these are the main tips for using a wine press. If you have a tip on how to make wine using a wine press, please leave it in the comments below. We’d love to hear your ideas.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Tips For Clearing Wine With Clearing Problems!

Clearing WinePlease give me any advise on clearing wine. I have a Red wine not clearing?

Name: Bruce K.
State: CA
We get asked this quite often: how do you clear a cloudy homemade wine? Clearing wine can be a big concern for the first-time winemaker, especially after they see just how cloudy a homemade wine gets right after fermentation – not to worry, though.

If given enough time, it is most likely that the cloudy wine will clear up and stabilize completely on its own. Gravity will take over and eventually everything will settle to the bottom as a deposit. But there are still some things you can do to speed things along and make sure it happens and to avoid any wine clearing problems.

If the wine has just completed its fermentation, it is typical to add a dose of bentonite. This is a wine clearing agent, also referred to as a fining agent. Adding bentonite to a wine will help the proteins in the wine (including yeast) to clump together and drop to the bottom more readily. After a few days you can then rack the wine off all the sediment.

Most winemakers would stop at clearing wine with bentonite, but if you wished you could also add Sparkolloid. This is another wine clearing agent. It was designed to compliment the bentonite. While bentonite will collect and drop negatively charged particles, Sparkolloid will collect and drop out positively charged particles. Again, you would wait until the sediment stops accumulating and stabilize, then rack the wine off of it.

One could then follow up by treating the wine with a polish fining agent before bottling. This could be something like isinglass, Kitosol 40 or gelatin. Either of these will add a brilliant clarity to the wine. Just like the others, it works by dropping sediment out of the wine, so racking will be necessary before bottling the wine.Shop Bentonite

Beyond these things you could use filtration for clearing wine. There are filtration systems specifically designed for filtering the finest of particles from a wine. So fine, that you can not see them with the naked eye.

These wine filters are not at all effective in clearing a cloudy-looking wine. They work so good that the filters would clog very quickly. The wine needs to look clear before filtering it. That’s what you can use the bentonite or other wine clearing agent for.

What wine filters are good at is adding a luster to the wine that can at times bring astonishing beauty to the wine. A wine filter can take a perfectly clear looking wine and make it look like a solid hunk of glass in the wine bottle.

Now that you know all these ways you can clear a cloudy homemade wine, here’s the bad news: it is possible to over-treat a wine. In fact, if you did all the things mention above to the same wine, the wine would suffer. It would lose more body and color than necessary. The character of the wine would be diminished, leaving you with a flatter, more uneventful wine.

So, how do you clear a cloudy homemade wine without ruining it? Treatment for clear wine must be used in moderation and with a plan.


  1. Shop SparkolloidAs mentioned earlier, you could do nothing. Just wait and see if the wine will clear up sufficiently on its own. Most of the time it will clear to some successful degree and stabilize.
  1. You could do everything possible to make sure you have the clearest, most beautiful wine possible, but nothing you can really enjoy.
  1. Or you could do what most winemakers do and hit a happy-medium. Many wine makers are happy with clear their wine with bentonite and be done with it. Another typical course of action would be something like clearing the wine with bentonite after fermentation. Then clearing the wine with gelatin before bottling. Or one might: bentonite after fermentation; then filtration, then bottle. Or, bentonite, Sparkolloid, bottle.


As you might be starting to see there are many possible answers to the question: how do you clear a cloudy homemade wine? Any of the courses of action in number 3 above, will get you a wine that is not cloudy, but what is the best way for you is something you’ll need to figure out. There is some art to clearing wine. You need to be able to know when to hold back, and you need to be able to choose with method is right for you situation at hand.Shop Mini Jet Wine Filter

Bruce, to answer you question more directly, since you are indicating that the wine is having problems clearing, I would start by treating the wine with bentonite. If the wine does not clear, then I would try Sparkolloid. At minimum, one of these two wine clearing agents should show improvement. After that you will need to decide if you want to stop there, or possibly treat the wine with gelatin before bottling or maybe even filter the wine. The choice is yours.

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

How To Siphon Wine Without Disturbing The Sediment

Man Siphoning Wine From CarboyCan I add potassium sorbate to individual bottles as I fill the bottles with wine. I am making cyser and want to back sweeten with a little more honey and add the potassium sorbate to individual bottles. It is a 5 gallon recipe and was started in November. I want to bottle now, readings are telling me its safe. There is no residue of yeast at the bottom, but I really don’t want to siphon the wine into the carboy and stir anything that I cant see up. What say you.

Name: Suzanne K.
State: Virginia
Hello Suzanne,

I understand your concerns about disturbing the sediment when siphoning, but what you are thinking of doing is not very is not very practical.

The amount of potassium sorbate required for each wine bottle is such a small amount that it would be very hard to measure it accurately enough for each single bottle. You would be much better off by siphoning into another fermenter, off any sediment (also referred to as “racking”), then mixing in the potassium sorbate to the entire batch along with any sweetening.

The fact that you are not seeing any sediment at the bottom of the fermenter is a very good sign, and makes me think that there isn’t any, since sediment is easy to spot in a lightly colored wine.

But if you are worried about disturbing the sediment when siphoning – seen, or not – the trick is to siphon gently. That’s how to siphon when without stirring up sediment. Have someone hold the siphon hose into the top half of the wine as someone else starts the siphon. Always draw your siphon from the upper part of the wine. As you get towards the end, you may want to tilt the container so as to corner the last bit of wine.

If you want to learn how to siphon wine without disturbing the sediment, the first thing you have to is understand that it’s not so much about a siphoning technique or experience as it is having the right pieces of equipment. There are several items on the market that will make racking the wine or wine much easier to do than just using a plain piece of hose. These handy little items are the key to siphoning the wine without stirring things up.


  • Racking Canes:
    One of them is called a racking cane. It is a rigid piece of tubing that allows you to point to where you are drawing from. It attaches to the end of your siphon hose like a wand. At the very bottom end of the tube is a diversion tip that makes sure that you do not draw from the very bottom of the container. On the top end is a hook or curve that points down toward the fermenter being racked into.The Auto Siphon
  • Auto Siphon:  
    Quite often, starting the siphon is what causes a lot of the sediment to get stirred up. This is when most of the fumbling around happens, and consequently, the unintentional disruption of the sediment. One great invention for resolving this issue is The Auto Siphon. It allows you to start a siphon with virtually no movement at all. It’s like a racking cane and pump all in one. You just attach it to the siphon hose like a racking cane, and then slowly slide the inside tube up one time and then down one time to start the siphon.
  • Racking Tube Clamps:
    Auto Siphon ClampAs an extra precaution, to make absolutely sure you do not disrupt any of the sediment when racking, you can use a racking tube clamps. These act as a third hand to keep things secured, in one position, and not moving around. You can get a Auto Siphon clamp or a racking cane clamp, depending on which you are using to draw the wine.


Suzanne, use these items and you’ll never have any problems with sediment getting stirred up.

How about anyone else. Do you have any tips or ideas on how to siphon a wine without disturbing the sediment?

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

In Plain English: The Difference Between pH and Titratable Acidity In Wine

Explaining Difference Between pH AndTitratable AcidityWe are using pH 4662 test strips to find the acid in our fruit wines. We got the test strips from a wine making shop, The salesman said they were for acid but they say pH is this what we are supposed to have or is there a conversion to find the correct acid levels?

Name: Gene P.
State: PA
Hello Gene,

I would like to thank you for such a great question. Wine acidity and pH is a subject that confuses many home winemakers. And to make matters worse, it becomes even more head-spinning when you start throwing in terms like titration or titratable acidity. Let me see if I can break this down into language that is easier to understand.


Glass of Red WineFirst Of All, What Is Acid?

In the context of wine making, it is the stuff that makes your wine more tart or sharp tasting. Not enough of it, and your wine will be flat, lifeless, and in extreme cases, insipid. It’s also the stuff that helps your wine to be more stable. This means: less likely to be overcome by mold, bacteria, or oxidation. It even contributes to how brilliant your wine’s color will be. To sum it up, acid is an integral part of any wine.


pH Readings vs. Titratable Acids

Gene, to speak to your suspicions directly, there are two ways by which you can measure acidity in a wine: by pH and by titration.

pH Strips For Testing Acidity in WineA pH reading will be numbers like 3.9 or 4.4. There are two things to know about these numbers. First, they run backwards. That is to say that 3.0 is higher in acid then a 4.0. Secondly, the scale is not an even one. It is logarithmic by a factor of -10, which is a fancy way of saying that a wine that has a pH of 3.0 has 10 times as much acid as a wine with a pH reading of 4.0. Remember it goes backwards. For most wines you are looking for a pH reading of 3.4 to 4.0, with the sweet-spot being around 3.6.

A pH reading can be taken with pH strip, such as the ones you have purchased, or with a digital pH meter. In either case the readings are almost instant. Just put a drop of wine on the end of a pH strip and allow it to dry. You then match the color change of the pH strip to a color chart to determine the wine’s pH. With the digital pH meter it’s just a matter of putting the meter’s probe directly into the wine and wait for a reading. Not much harder than taking a temperature.

Acid Test Kit For Taking Titration ReadingsTITRATION READINGS:
A titration reading is a little more straight forward. It gives you a reading as a percentage of the wine. Optimal readings can very from one style of wine to the next, but essentially you want to be somewhere around. .55% and .75%.

Titratable acidity is measured with an acid test kit (titration kit). In simple terms, when using an acid test kit you are adding a solution to a wine sample until it changes color. You get your acid percentage reading by measuring how much of the solution it took to change the wine’s color.


The Different Between pH And Titratable Acidity In Wine

While both methods measure acid, each are measuring it in a very different way, so much so, that one scale can not be converted or correlated to the other. This is where much of the confusion lies between pH and titratable acidity.

As an example, if you have a pH reading of 3.6, it can not be correlated to any corresponding titration reading and vice versa. To carry this further, you can even have two wines with the same exact pH reading but with different titration readings. That’s how loosely correlated they are.

Confussed Person Trying to Figure Out Difference Between pH and Titratable AcidCONFUSED YET?
I’ll try to explain the difference as simply and plainly as possible. That’s my promise. But in order to do that I may take one or two technical liberties as a way to keep things simple. I only say this because I know there will be some people out there (chemist) that will want to correct me on some of these explanations.

There are many different kinds of acids that can be found naturally in a wine. Each are made up just a little differently. The common ones are: tartaric, citric, malic, lactic, ascorbic and succinic, along with many others in smaller amounts. The important thing to understand is that each one of these acids has a different strength of tartness on the tongue. Some acids are very sharp, while others, not so much at all.

Adding Acid To Two Jugs Of WineAs an example, you can take two one gallon jugs of wine that are identical and add to one of them a 1/4 ounce of ascorbic acid and to the other, 1/4 ounce of malic acid and get two completely different levels of tartness in each case. While the amount of acid added to each gallon was the same, the resulting level of tartness was different. This is because different acids have different strengths.

Now that you understand that not all acids are the same, I can explain to you the difference between pH and titratable acid.

pH represents how much acid is in a wine
regardless of how strong it tastes,
whereas a titration measures
how strong that acid tastes.


In other words, pH doesn’t concern itself with how taste-able the acid is. It only cares that it is in the wine. Whereas, a titration reading does not care about how much acid is in the wine. It only cares about how tart it is making the wine.

After reading this you may be wondering why we are even interested in a pH reading at all. I mean, if you have a way of measuring the acidic taste or tartness of the wine by way of performing a titration, why would you even care about a pH reading? What’s more important than taste? This is a very good question, but there is also a very good answer!Shop Digital pH Meter

While acids do bring a tartness to the wine that is necessary for a wine to taste proper, acid also does the other things mentioned earlier for the wine. It helps to protect the wine from spoilage and oxidation, and it keeps the wine’s color fresh and brilliant.

This is where pH becomes important. pH is more directly related to how well the wine is being protected. While some acids do not do so much for tartness, they may be going a long way toward protecting the wine. This is why it is always important to make sure the pH is in the correct range.

A wine that has a proper range of pH will usually result in a wine that also has an acceptable level of tartness. The opposite usually holds true as well. A wine that has a proper level of tartness will likely have an acceptable pH reading. But, this is not a given! You can’t always assume this will be the case. For some wines getting the acidity levels correct can be a challenge.


So, Where Does This Leave Us

To make sure your wine is in good balance, you will want to adjust the wine’s acidity according to both pH and titratable acid. This may seem like a process that is destined to end in conflict, but what you will usually find is that both readings will be telling you to do the same thing — to either raise the acid or lower the acid. Then when you get both readings to an acceptable range, a little compromise may need to take place.


As A Final Note…Shop Wine Making Kits

All the information above about the difference between pH and titratable acidity in wine and adjusting the acid only applies when making wine from fresh fruit, whether it be strawberries or grapes. If you are using wine concentrates or wine ingredient kits to make wine, you do not need to worry about any of this. Everything has been balanced and tested ahead of time for you.

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

Why Using Pectic Enzyme Gets You A Clear Wine

What Using Pectic Enzyme Does To WineI have made delicious peach wine in the past, but last year, the peaches were ripe when I was out of town. My son cleaned, sliced and froze them in freezer bags til I could get home. It’s been 10 mos. and the wine refuses to clear – I’ve tried everything. Was pretty sure I had read you could freeze fruit til ready to use, but maybe not? That’s the only thing I remember doing differently…”Blue Moon” Peach Wine anyone?

Name: Carol
State: Maryland
Hello Carol,

Freezing the peaches would not have anything to do with the wine being cloudy. I think this has more to do about using pectic enzyme. Freezing the fruit will only help to break down the fiber allowing you to get more flavor from the peaches. Freezing the fruit is something we recommend doing all the time. So even though this is the only apparent difference from other times you’ve made this wine, this is not the cause of your peach wine being cloudy.

Assuming that the fermentation went just fine, the number one reason for a peach wine to be cloudy is because of something called a pectin haze. Peaches have a considerable amount of pectin in them as compared to other winemaking fruit. Pectin is the gel that holds the fruit’s fiber together. It has a milky appearance to it when removed from the fruit.

With most fruit the pectin is broken down and cleared during the fermentation. The wine yeast produce enzymes that help to do this. Most fruit wine recipes will also call for pectic enzymes as additional insurance to see to it that all the pectin cells are broken down. You can read more about it in a previous blog post, Why Do Some Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme? When using pectic enzyme the pectin cells are broken down into a substance that is clear and watery.Shop Pectic Enzyme

If all the pectin cells are not broken down then they add to the cloudy appearance of the wine. In the case of peaches sometimes not all the pectin gets broken down. Sometimes this is caused by a stressed wine yeast, but it can also be caused by using pectic enzyme that is old or not using enough pectic enzyme. If any fruit is gong to expose this error it would be the peach wine due to its abundance of pectin cells. Other fruits high in pectin are plums, strawberries and persimmons.

It is important to understand that a pectin haze can not be cleared out with fining agents such a bentonite, isinglass or Sparkolloid. This is because these types of clarifiers are primarily used to clear out particles. Pectin is not a particle, but rather, something that is molecularity bound to the liquid. No fining agent can touch it. It needs to be broken down through enzymatic activity. That is why using pectic enzyme is so important in these situations.

You can try adding more pectic enzyme to the wine, but it may take a while for the full reaction to take place. The enzymes work much more slowly after the fermentation when the activity is not present. Patience my be required on your part. It could even take several months.

Shop Mini Jet Wine FilterIf you would like to verify that it is a pectin haze you are dealing with you can take a small sample of the wine and add extreme doses of the pectic enzyme to it to see if it will clear the wine: say, a teaspoon to 4 oz. to 8 oz. of wine. You should see a reaction with in days, if not hours, at this dosage.

Hope this information about using pectic enzyme helps you out.

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

How Are Different Wines Made From Grape Juice?

Melot Grape For Making WineI am interested in making Merlot wine. I have found all your wine kits for this, but don’t quite understand how theyare used. Can you turn any fruit juice into a merlot with these kits? Do you mix the contents of the kit with the particular type of merlot you wish to make, like blackberry juice.

Thank you,
Hello Nancy,

I see there is a little bit of confusion about how different wine’s can be made from grape juice. Let me see if I can clear things up a bit.

The Merlot wine you mentioned is made from Merlot grapes. The same holds true for many other wines you may see on the store shelf: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel. These wines are made primarily from the grape after which they are named. Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape; Chardonnay is a grape; and so on. These wines are known as varietals.

However, this is not true for all wines. For example, a wine labeled Burgundy indicates that grapes primarily used to make it where grown in the Burgundy region of France. It does not make mention of the specific grape varieties used, even though a Merlot grape could have been used in part since it is a grape that is grown extensively in Burgundy, France. These wines are known as appellation wines. The emphasis is on the where not the what.Shop Wine Kits

So when you ask: how are different wines made from grape juice? The real answer is different wines are made from different grape juices.

Many people are surprised to find that there are so many different grape varieties used to make wine. They just assumed that a hand-full of types were used to make a lot of different variations of wine, but that isn’t so. In reality, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different grape varieties from which wine can be made.

The wine ingredient kits you are referring to are basically concentrated grape juice packaged along with a few small packets of other ingredients such as wine yeast, clarifiers, stabilizers, etc.. You just add water and ferment the mix as called for by the directions that are included. Currently, we offer Merlot in nine different brands along with some Merlot blends.

They vary in price in accordance to their quality and how specific the region they are from is indicated. Lower priced wine ingredient kits might only specify which continent the grapes came from. These concentrates would be appropriate for making everyday drinking wines. Higher priced wine ingredient kits can be as specific as the particular growing region within a country. For example, Napa valley as opposed to Sonoma valley. These concentrates make fabulous wines with characters representative of that growing region. This is known as a wine’s terroir.Shop Wine Making Kits

So that’s how different types of wines are made from grape juice. It’s all about the grape and where it was grown. I hope this information helps you out.

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

7 Tips: How To Use A Wine Bottle Corker Like A Pro!

Winemaker Showing How To Use A Wine CorkerWant to learn how to use a wine bottle corker? Then here’s some information that you will definitely want to take a look at…

Just as the name sounds, a wine bottle corker is a tool that is used to insert a cork into a wine bottle. It compresses and plunges the wine cork. Below are some tips on how to use a wine bottle corker and how to get the cork into the bottle with minimal effort.


  • Use The Right Corks:
    First and foremost you want to use the right corks when bottling your wine. Without the right cork your bottling efforts will be doomed from the start. This means using either a size #8 or size #9 straight cork. Anything smaller and you can expect some seepage when the wine bottles are laid on their side. Anything larger and the wine bottle corker will have too hard of a time corking the bottle. As a side note, you’ll also have an incredible time getting the cork out.
  • Prepare the Corks:
    The wine bottle corks can be prepared in one of two ways:
    1. You can steep or steam the corks in hot water for a short period of time. Bring a pan of water to a boil; turn the burner off; put the corks on the water; and place a lid over them. About three minutes is all the time recommended. Never go over five. Get the corks off the heat. Heating the corks for too long will cause the them to become brittle and crumble while in the bottle.
    2. The second method is to submerge the corks in a sulfite solution for a few hours or overnight. You will need to use a container with a lid to keep the floating corks submerged. I use an old plastic jar. The sulfite solutions consists of either 1/4 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite or 4 Campden tablets in a quart of water.Regardless of which method you use, you will want to drain the excessive water from the corks by placing them in a colander, strainer or something similar.
  • Loading The Cork:
    Now we’re getting down to how you actually use the wine bottle corker. This step is very straight-forward. Each corker is a little different, but essentially all you are doing is dropping the cork into the corker’s chamber.
  • Compressing The Cork:
    What this is doing is taking the cork that is almost an inch in diameter, and squeezing it down to  about the diameter of a dime. Depending on the corker, this action requires that you pull down or squeeze some kind of lever.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers
  • Inserting The Cork:
    This is where the actual corking takes place. Once the cork is compressed, a plunger is used to slide the cork into the wine bottle.  Some style of corkers compress and plunge all with one lever action. This is normally the case with floor-standing wine bottle corkers. Other corkers may require two steps as described above. First you compress. Then you plunge. This is sometimes the case with hand-held corkers.
  • Adjusting The Depth Setting:
    Once you cork your first wine bottle you will want to take a look and see how far the cork was inserted into the bottle’s opening. The goal is for the cork to be flush with the top lip of the wine bottle opening. A little lower is okay, but you never want the cork sticking out of the wine bottle. Most wine bottle corkers will have a depth setting adjustment that will allow you to control how far you corker plunges. Play with this adjustment until the corks are being inserted at the proper depth.
  • Seating The Corks:
    All wine bottles that are sealed with a cork in this way will eventually need to be stored on their side. This helps to keep the cork swelled so that it can continue to maintain a tight seal. But before laying the bottles down you need to give the corks time to set. After the corks are compressed by the wine bottle corker, it takes a little time for them to expand all the way back and apply full pressure on the inner side walls of the wine bottle opening. If the wine bottle are laid on their side too soon some could leak. For this reason you need to let the wine bottle sit upright for a day or two before stowing away in the cellar.Shop Wine Corks


So there you have it, the essentials of how to use a wine bottle corker. All-in-all you’ll be surprised at how simple it is to cork a bottle of wine. It’s a fun part of the wine making process and one that’s just perfect for getting the whole family involved.

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