Having Fun Using Honey In Your Wine Making

Using Honey In Wine MakingI want to start using honey instead of sugar in my wine making so I have a few questions: do i put the honey in the must to start with, or, to sweeten after the wine is done fermenting? Also one pound of sugar equals how much honey?

Tom – NC
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Hello Tom,

Using honey in wine making is something you can have a lot of fun with. One of the favorite wines I made was a Raspberry Honey Zinfandel. Nobody could keep their hands off of it, and it was soon gone.

There are different ways honey can be used in wine making. You can add it to the wine must, before fermentation, and have its sugars ferment into alcohol, or you can add the honey after the fermentation and have its sugars contribute to the sweetness of the wine.

 

Using Honey Instead Of Sugar Before The Fermentation

When you add honey before a fermentation, what will be left when the fermentation is complete is the herbal character of the honey. No sweetness will remain. For example, if the honey was spun off of wild flowers then a wild flower character will be added to the wine during the wine making process. If the honey was spun off of strawberry blossoms then you will have a note of herbal-strawberry character in the wine, and so forth.Shop Hydrometers

What this means is you can alter any fruit wine making recipe you find by replacing some or all of the sugar called for with honey. Using honey in your wine making in this way will add a layer of depth to the wine’s over all character. You can compliment the wine’s character, such as adding raspberry-blossom honey to a raspberry wine recipe, or you can contrast the wine’s character, such as adding apple-blossom honey to a cherry wine recipe.

When using honey in wine making before the fermentation, you want to use it in-place-of or instead-of the sugar called for in the wine recipe you are using. As a general rule-of-thumb you can replace 1 pound of sugar with 1.2 to 1.3 pounds of honey. You can also use a wine hydrometer to determine how much honey to add. Keep adding the honey until you get to the appropriate reading on the wine hydrometer’s specific gravity scale – usually between 1.070 and 1.090.

 

Using Honey Instead Of Sugar After The Fermentation

If you add the honey at bottling time or anytime after the fermentation, you are contributing to the sweetness of the wine instead of the alcohol. Shop Potassium SorbateThe herbal characters of the honey are still being added but along with its sweetness. It is important to note that any time you add a sugar to a wine at bottling time – whether it be honey, cane sugar or grape concentrate – you must also add potassium sorbate (wine stabilizer) to eliminate any chance of re-fermentation later on in the wine bottle. The is in addition to the Campden tablets that we recommend at bottling time for any wine. Here’s more information on sweetening a wine with honey.

 

Should I Use Raw Or Pasteurized Honey?

I recommend using pasteurized, filtered honey – the kind you typically find on the grocery shelf. This type of honey has been cleared of wild microbes and various solids that you do not want in your wine. If you do plan on using raw honey in your wine recipe, you will need to heat it up to 170°F. for a full 30 minutes along with some water. During this time you will also want to skim off the top whatever rises.

 

More Information On Using Honey In Wine MakingShop Campden Tablets

You can find more information on our website in the article, Wine Making With Honey. It gives a basic run-down of how honey has been used in wine over the years along with some basic honey recipes.

Using honey instead of sugar in your wine making is a fun way to add more interest depth, not only to your wines, but your wine making. It’s one more way to be creative in the enjoyable and rewarding hobby.

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.

Oaking Wine With Oak Chips

Man Oaking Wine With Oak ChipsHow do you go about oaking wine with oak chips? What type of oak chip would you recommend using on muscadine wine? I’d like to do a little experimenting. My wine is a combination of red and white muscadine grapes yielding a blush/rose type wine. What type of oak chip, quantity per 6 gallon carboy and length of time to soak would you recommend? Thanks much!

Name: Ed P.
State: Illinois
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Hello Ed,

Nothing wrong with a little experimenting. For me that’s part of what makes wine making so enormously fun.

One thing about oaking wine with oak chips, not all wines will benefit from it. Normally, the wines you would like to add oak chips to are wines with a lot of body. The tannins in the oak will help any excessive proteins in these full-bodied wines to clear out. This will give your wine a little more brilliant color.

The oak chips will also add their own smoothing affect to the wine’s character. A rounding-off of the rough corners, so to speak. Heavier wines tend to be harsher than lighter wine. Oak chips will also add some wood flavors to the wine. Some regard this as giving the wine more complexity. These heavy wines are the ones that you should be thinking about considering what wines to oak.

Looking at this from an experimental standpoint, your best option would be to take off a gallon of the wine and strongly oak it. This could be done by adding about 4 to 8 ounces of oak chips to the gallon for a two or three months. Once this is done you can blend a little/some/or all back into the other 5 gallons based on taste.Shop Toasted Oak Chips

Using this method for oaking your wine with oak chips would give you the most control over the final outcome. The downfall is that you would not want to store 5 gallons of wine in a 6 gallon carboy, so you would need to move the 5 gallons of wine to a 5 gallon carboy during this time. The same holds true for the one gallon sample you will be oaking. Also, you are risking loosing whatever portion of the gallon you do not wish to add back to the wine.

The other method for oaking a wine with oak chips would be add it to the entire 6 gallons of wine, and then taste it along the way to see how it’s doing. Usually, once every 3 or 4 weeks. While this is an easier method, you do run a better risk of ending up with a wine you might not care too much for.

How much of the oak chips you would want to add to the wine can vary. I personally like to use 2 ounces to 5 gallons and let it age out for many months. But others like adding 4 or 6 ounces and age the wine for a shorter period of time.

Without question, I would recommend using toasted oak ships. Plain oak chips are rarely used but still have their place. Whether you use Toasted French oak chips or Toasted American oak chips would not make an incredible difference. Shop Oak PowderEither can produce great results. The main difference between the two is that American oak will add sort of a coconut smoothness to the wine, whereas French oak chips will add more of a vanilla richness. One is not better than the other, it’s more of a matter of which one will work best with the wine at hand. Without tasting your wine, I would suspect you would want to use the American oak chips–just a guess.

Ed, I hope this information about oaking wine with oak chips is what you were looking for. Just realize that oaking a homemade wine with oak chips is something that does not happen overnight, so you will have time to sample the wine and make careful judgments as to when enough is enough.

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.

There’s Too Much Tannin In My Homemade Wine!

Wine With Too Much TanninI have 3 five-gallon carboys of zinfandel with a low pH of 3.00, and what I identify as too much tannin. The wine has been “aging” for 18 mos. now and still unacceptable by my taste. Is it too late to doctor it to lower the tannin? It has been stored cool (I’m in N. California) and I can’t heat it. Too late for treating with egg whites or bentonite?

Name: Tony S.
State: CA
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Hello Tony,

I see your wine is still a beautiful, young color, even after 18 months. That is probably partially due to the fact that it has such a low pH. This can help to keep a color fresh looking as well as keep any potential spoilage in check. The bad part is as you have stated, it doesn’t taste good. That is the primary issue when you have to much tannin in any wine.

You said that you tested the pH of your wine and thought it was too low because of too much tannin being in the wine as opposed to the other typical reason, which is having too much tartaric acid in the wine. This could be easily verified by testing the wine with an acid test kit. This would tell you very precisely if there was too much tartaric acid in the wine or not.

If you do not want to do this you can go by taste and experience, but this can only tell you what direction to take in solving this problem, not necessarily how sever it is. If there is too much tannin in this wine you would expect it to taste bitter and dry-puckering. If it is a tartaric acid problem you would expect a tart and sharp flavor.Shop Bentonite

If you do have too much tannin in the wine, just as you implied, bringing the temperature up would most likely drop some of it out. I would not hesitate to use artificial means of heat on the wine to heat stabilize the wine. Bring the wine up to about 80°F. for about a 3 days. Because the wine’s pH is so low oxidation will not be an issue.

You can use something as simple as an electric blanket it to warm it up. We also have a heating belt that can warm five gallons by about 20°F. Just be sure to use a thermometer of some type to monitor just how hot the wine is getting.

Once the wine has reach 80°F. (this could take a day or two) treat is with bentonite and let the wine sit for the rest of the week.

If you are dealing with  too much tannin in your wine, you will notice a remarkable change in the wine after doing this. You may want to test the pH again. If you do not notice any change, then I doubt you are dealing with a tannin problem and urge you to test the wine again with an acid testing kit. More than likely you will need to use acid reducing crystals on the wine.Shop Acid Reducing Crystals

Beyond this, if you do see improvement in the pH, it is possible to treat the wine a second time with bentonite, if you deem it necessary, but I would not heat it a second time. Once the pH rises above 3.2, you do need to be a little more cautions about oxidation. You will typically receive marginal improvement from a second treatment in such a potentially severe case.

Hope this information helps you out.

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

My Malolactic Fermentation Won’t Start

Malolactic FermentationI added malolactic culture to two carboys of wine approximately 30 days ago. One of them showed sign of good fermentation, but in the second one the malolactic fermentation won’t start. What can I do with the carboy that is not fermenting?

Thank James
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Hello James,

There are a few reasons why a malolactic fermentation won’t start or complete in a wine. Before adding the malolactic culture to the wine it is best to make sure that you have some things in order. The environment that the wine is providing for the culture needs to one that promotes a malolactic fermentation. Here or some thing to consider:

 

  • Temperature: Make sure the malolactic fermentation temperature is between 70°F. – 75°F. If the temperature is too cool the malolactic culture will not ferment as hardily as it should, if at all. Also, beware of malolactic fermentation temperatures above this range. These temperatures could promote the growth of unwanted organisms that may produce off-flavors in the wine. If you are currently experiencing MLF temperatures that are cooler than this, we have a heating belt that is designed specifically for such a situation. I doubt that this is the reason why your malolactic fermentation won’t start since both carboys are side-by-side, but I’ve included here for completeness, just the same.
  • Acidity: Just like temperature, the wine’s acidity level needs to be tested to make sure it is in a decent range. If the acidity is too high, it will inhibit the malolactic culture’s activity. You also need to be concerned about having too low of an acid level. This will promote the growth of unwanted bacteria. A simple pH reading will do. You can use pH Strips (litmus papers) or a digital pH meter. YouShop Digital pH Meter would like to have the pH be between 3.2 and 3.6. Remember, the scale works backwards. The lower the number the higher the acid. If your acidity is too high, then treat the wine with acid reducing crystals. This will drop out some if the acid as crystals. If the acidity is too low then add some acid blend.
  • Alcohol: If the wine’s alcohol level is too high this can by why your malolactic fermentation won’t start. This type of problem can be experienced with wines that are 13% or higher. It may be necessary to dilute the wine with water to bring the alcohol concentration down. Always use distilled water for this purpose.
  • Sulfite (SO2): A malolactic fermentation is very sensitive to sulfite. It is much more sensitive than a yeast fermentation. Sulfite is the main ingredient you are adding when you use Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. It is also produced naturally by the yeast during a fermentation. You would like the amount of free SO2 in the wine to be no higher than 10 ppm. You can get away with 15 ppm, but it is not preferable. You can use a Titret test kit to determine how much sulfite is in your wine. If there is too much, you can lower it by racking the wine into another vessel. Do so in a splashing manner. This activity will cause some of the SO2 to dissipate as a gas.

 

Ironically, if you cannot get the malolactic fermentation to start in your wine after making these adjustments, it is in the wine’s best interest to pull-the-plug on the project and bring the sulfite level up to a normal level – somewhere around 35 ppm to 55 ppm – and bottle the wine. This reason for this is that if the SO2 level is low in preparation for a malolactic fermentation, you don’t want the wine to stay still too long in this situation. You want to either bring the SO2 level up to a protective level, or have an active MLF. Having neither for a stretch of time is jeopardizing the wine.Shop Heating Belt

That’s how to get a malolactic fermentation going in your wine. Get the temperature and these other things set and your MLF starter should take off just fine. There may be other reasons why a malolactic fermentation won’t start, but I’m confident that the above covers 99% of the issues.

If you’d like to read more about this we have another blog post about the reasons for doing a malolactic fermentation.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus

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

Get More Potential Alcohol From Sugar

Get More Potential AlcoholHow do I get more potential alcohol alcohol on my wine hydrometer. I want to get the level up to 10 or 11% when making a dry wine without adding sugar?

Name: Jay K.
State: Arkansas
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Hello Jay,

Thanks for the great questions about how to get more potential alcohol. This question covers some areas of confusion for many home winemakers. Let’s see if we can clear it up a little.

Let me start off by making something clear. The only way to raise the potential alcohol reading of a wine is to add more sugar to it. The potential alcohol scale on your wine hydrometer is directly related to the concentration of sugar within it. Add more sugar to the wine must, the potential alcohol reading goes up. The potential alcohol reading on your wine hydrometer comes from sugar, nothing else, so you add more sugar to get more potential alcohol.

The reason for this is very simple. When a wine is fermenting what’s happening? The wine yeast are consuming the sugars and converting them into both CO2 gas (carbon dioxide) and alcohol. Almost exactly half the sugar Shop Hydrometersturn into CO2 the other half turns in alcohol. The more sugar that is available to the wine yeast the more alcohol you will end up with. So if you put add 2 pounds of sugar and the wine yeast ferment it, you will have added 1 pound of alcohol to the wine.

The above is true until the wine yeast have reached their limits of alcohol tolerance. Wine yeast can only ferment so much alcohol. Once the fermentation reaches a high enough level of alcohol, the wine yeast will have difficulty fermenting any further. What this levels “is” depends on several factors: including the strain of wine yeast and the environmental conditions of the fermentation such as temperature, nutrients, etc.

The sugar we are talking about to get more potential alcohol does not have to be cane sugar. It doesn’t even have to be a granulated or powdered sugar. It could come in the form of grape concentrate, honey, apple juice… the list is endless. The sugars from all these things will also raise the potential alcohol level on your wine hydrometer when added to a wine must. Just remember potential alcohol comes from sugar.

So to sum up what you should do to get more potential alcohol:Shop Wine Yeast

  1. Pick out some form of sugar (nothing wrong with using cane sugar);
  2. Dissolve the sugar into the wine must until the potential alcohol scale on your wine hydrometer reads a  reasonable level. (11% to 13% will work fine);
  3. Let it ferment with an actual domesticated wine yeast.

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.

My Wine’s Fermenting Without Adding Any Yeast

Wild Yeast On GrapesWhy is my grape juice bubbling and I have not added my yeast yet.

Name: Jerry R.
State: PA
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Hello Jerry,

The simple answer is your juice is naturally fermenting because of wild yeast. This is why a wine will ferment without adding yeast, at all.

Yeast is everywhere: floating in the air, landing on plants and animals. It is ubiquitous to the nature in which we live. Your grape juice either picked up some wild yeast somewhere, or it started naturally fermenting from yeast that were on the grapes themselves.

Most of the time, vineyards selling fresh grape juice to home winemakers will treat it with sulfites such as potassium metabisulfite to destroy any of the wild yeast and to temporarily protect if from fermentation and spoilage. This would eliminate any chance of a wine fermentation occurring from the natural yeast that was on the grapes.

But there is still the issue of the wild yeast that is floating around. From the oranges sitting on the kitchen counter to the cat who just came inside for a little nap, the sources of yeast are many and unstoppable.

Once a few cells of the wild yeast make it to your wine juice, then it becomes party time. A wine fermentation will ignite with the natural yeast. Slowly, the yeast will start to consume the sugars and use that for energy to multiply themselves into a larger colony. As the colony becomes larger the growth will slow down and the focus will turn to the productions of alcohol. This is how a wine ferments without adding yeast.Shop Wine Yeast

What is described above is no different than what happens when you add a domesticated wine yeast. This begs the question, “why add yeast at all?” The answer is simple, with wild or natural yeast you never know what you are getting. Yeast is not just yeast. There are thousands of yeast strains, and with each strain are an endless number of varying mutations.

With a domesticated wine yeast: 1) you know what you are getting, 2) the strain is kept consistent, and 3) the strain has been bred for a specific characteristic, such as alcohol tolerance, flavor profile and such. Domesticated wine yeast pack more firmly on the bottom of the fermentation vessel as sediment so you can more easily rack the wine off of it. You may want to take a look at a wonderful article we have on the reasons you should use a domesticated wine yeast.

Now that you know your wine fermentation is from natural yeast. What should you do?

Fortunately, there is a simple remedy for such a situation. Wild or natural yeast are not very resilient to sulfites, and sulfite is the active ingredient in Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite and sodium metabisulfite. All you need to do is add a dose of any one of the above, and the wild yeast will easily be destroyed and no more natural fermentation. Wait 24 hours, then add a domesticated wine yeast to the juice. During this 24 hour period you should leave the grape juice uncovered, or at most, covered with no more than a thin towel. Shop Potassium BisulfiteThis will allow the sulfur to release as a gas and dissipate. Once the domesticated wine yeast has been added, you should see a renewed fermentation start within 24 to 36 hours.

Having a wine ferment from natural yeast is not a horrible thing but it is something you’d prefer not to have. It’s like rolling the dice with Mother Nature. The important thing to understand is that a wine fermentation can occur without adding yeast, but there is something you can easily do about it.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus

Atmosphere Wine Kits Sale

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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 Sulfites To Homemade Wine

Adding Sulfites To WineI started fruit wine making in May. Yesterday I came across reading something on your blog which caught my attention. Something that I haven’t read or was told before. That is to add Campden tablets and sorbate after each racking. Do I need to do this after each racking or is it OK with every other racking?… By me not adding any since I started and going on my 3 and 4th rackings am I in jeopardy of losing my wine?…

Eric — LA
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Hello Eric,

The fact that you haven’t been adding sulfites [Campden tablets] to your homemade wine doesn’t mean you have ruined it by any means. There are winemakers that never use sulfite and turn out good wines. But having said this, I would urge you to start adding sulfites to homemade wine.

Sulfites such as Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite make sure your wine does not spoil during the wine making process. After the wine has been made, sulfites help to insure that your wine will keep for many years and not just weeks or months in the wine bottle. Sulfites also help your wine to be free from the effects of oxidation. This is when the color of the wine darkens and the flavor taken on a little bitterness. Adding sulfites to homemade wine is not an absolute necessity, but it only makes sense to do so.

Potassium sorbate on the other hand is a different beast. It should only be used before bottling the wine – if at all. It is required if you are planning on back-sweetening your wine at bottling time. If it is not added along with the sweetening sugar, you stand a very strong chance of experiencing a re-fermentation of your wine while in the bottle. This can eventually result in popping corks and fizzy wine.

Shop Campden TabletsThere is no reason to add potassium sorbate at any other time than at bottling. In fact, if it is added before the fermentation has completed it will most likely result in a sluggish or stuck fermentation. I would not recommend adding it at bottling time if you are not making a sweet wine. It is not necessary.

If you are making wine from fresh fruit, I always recommend adding sulfite to homemade wine about 24 hours before adding the yeast. Leave the wine must uncovered during this 24 hours so that the sulfite gas may dissipate. Then add the wine yeast as you normally would. Doing this will easily destroy any wild molds, bacteria, etc. that may be coming along with the fruit.

I always recommend that sulfite be added before bottling, as well. This is the dose that keeps the wine fresh and free of oxidation while in the wine bottle. Before fermentation and before bottling are the two times I would never forgo.

I also suggest adding sulfites to wine after the fermentation has completed. This is with the understanding that the wine is going to sit for a while before clearing up. This will keep any airborne contaminants from growing on your wine while clearing.

Shop Potassium BisulfiteOnce the wine is clear and you have racked it off the sediment, I would also recommend adding a 1/2 dose of sulfites if you plan on bulk-aging the wine. If you plan on bottling within a few days don’t worry about it.

Eric, at this point I would add a dose of Campden tablets. Just on per gallon. If you are on your 3rd or 4th racking you shouldn’t need to rack your wine any more other than to bottle it, at which point I would add another dose of Campden tablets. No potassium sorbate should be added unless you are sweetening your wine.

Adding sulfites to homemade wine is important and highly recommended. It’s like buying insurance for making a wine that doesn’t spoil or oxidize. If you do not add sulfites you can make wine successfully, but most will find it hard for the wine to keep over extended periods of time without refrigeration.

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

Can I Use Potassium Sorbate To Stop A Fermentation?

Wine Fermentation That Needs To Be StoppedAs the yeast eats the sugars, the sweet taste disappears as the sugar is eaten. I have heard you can’t stop the yeast from doing their job. But if I want a sweeter wine and my reading has reached an SG of 1.010, can I put potassium sorbate in the fermentation to stop it there for some sweetness instead of letting it ferment to the end at .998 and having to try and back sweeten a dry wine?

Byron J. — FL
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Hello Byron,

This is a great question because it covers a two wine making topics that often trip up home winemakers: using potassium sorbate and sweetening a wine.

Let me start off by saying that it is possible to stop a fermentation in progress, but it is much more difficult than just using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation and/or sulfites such as Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite. These wine making ingredients will give the fermentation a blow to the gut, but vary rarely will they permanently stop a fermentation. Not good enough for a homemade wine that is destined to be bottled. The last thing any winemaker wants is fermenting bottles of wine.

The potassium sorbate does not stop or inhibit the fermenting in any way. What it does do is stop the yeast from reproducing themselves. During a typical fermentation the wine yeast will go through several re-generations. By adding potassium sorbate to a wine you are making sure that the current generation of yeast is the last generation of yeast. Eventually, the wine yeast will begin to die, but not all at once. Some yeast will live longer than others always leaving a possibility of a re-fermentation occurring, even months down the road.

Shop Potassium SorbateSulfites, like the Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite, will destroy some of the yeast cells but not all of them. Domesticated wine yeast are somewhat immune to the effects of sulfite. They are acclimated to the sulfites when they are being produced. This is done on purpose so that a fermentation can exist with some of the protective benefits of sulfites.

Since potassium sorbate won’t stop a fermentation, here is what a commercial winery does when they want to stop an active fermentation:

 

  1. Chill the fermentation tanks down to about 45°F. This causes the wine yeast to stop their activity and drop to the bottom. This can be done in a matter of 3 or 4 days depending on how fast the tanks chill. As a home winemaker, refrigeration should be done for at least a week.
  1. Rack the wine off the sediment. The sediment is mostly yeast cells at this stage of the winemaking process, so by racking or siphoning the wine, you are leaving most of the yeast behind.
  1. Filter the wine. It is vital that the wine be finely filtered at this point. While almost all of the wine yeast is gone, if some is left in the wine they can propagate themselves into larger numbers, regenerating a new colony of yeast that can ferment the wine after it has been bottled. Not a good thing. A winery will typically filter a wine down to .5 micron. This will require filtration under pressure with an actual wine filter system.

 

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteThis is how a winery controls the sweetness of a wine, but there is a much, much easier way available to the home winemaker. It doesn’t involve using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation, and it doesn’t involve going through all the steps laid out above.

 

  1. Allow the fermentation to finish. All the sugars will be gone and the wine yeast will start dropping out.
  1. Rack the wine off the sediment. Again, this will leave most of the yeast behind – well over 90%.
  1. Add sugar syrup to taste. The sugar syrup can be made by taking equal parts water and sugar and heating them in a sauce pan until completely clear. You may want to take a measured portion of the wine and add measured portions of the sugar syrup to establish a dosage, first, before committing the entire batch.
  1. Add potassium sorbate and sulfite to the wine. The dosage should be listed on the containers they come in, but you want to use 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon and 1/16 teaspoon per gallon of either: potassium metabisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, or 1 Campden tablet per gallon of wine.
  1. Bottle the wine right away. If the wine is allowed to sit, some of the sulfite will dissipate, so you will want to bottle the wine on the same day.

 

By allowing the wine to finish, you will have much greater control on the sweetness of the wine. Instead of saying I want the wine to finish at a specific gravity 1.010, as you have suggested, you can actually sweeten the wine to taste. This is important because some wines require more sugar than others to get the same effect of sweetness than others. Every wine is different.Shop Mini Jet Wine Filter

By operating in this way you can also bulk age the wine first. This is a great advantage, because it allows you to sweeten the wine after the harshness has been aged out. Often times when sweetening a young, too much sugar will be added. This is because the winemaker tries to cover up the harshness with sweetness — a harshness that won’t be there later.

Byron, I hope this information helps you out. Again, I’m glad you asked about using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation for the simple fact that it’s answer will help to clear up a lot of confusion among new winemakers.

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.

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
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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
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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.

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
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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
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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.