To Use, Or Not To Use An Air Lock On A Wine Fermentation?

3 Airlocks In SilhouetteOn many occasions we have been asked this simple question, “Should a wine making fermenter be sealed with an air-lock during the first few days of fermentation — the primary fermentation — or should it be left open, exposed to the air?”

The Conflict
This question arises because there is so much conflicting information floating around in wine making books, on the internet and in other places as to which method is correct. In fact, even our own wine making website recommends just covering the primary fermentation with a thin towel, while the instructions that come with the wine ingredient kits we sell recommend using an air-lock.

Even commercial wineries are not consistent in this area. While most wineries will put white wines under an air-lock and expose red wines to air, there are many, many wineries that will do the very opposite.

My Recomendation
The reason I recommend leaving the wine must exposed to air during the primary fermentation is because this method leads a more vigorous fermentation, one that is able to complete more thoroughly and quickly. Wine making kit producers recommend sealing up the primary fermentation with an air-lock because they are more concerned about eliminating any risk of spoilage than providing the fastest fermentation possible.

Spoilage can be of concern on those rare occasions when the fermentation does not start in a timely manner, but if the fermentation takes off quickly, spoilage is of no issue. The activity of the yeast will easily protect the must by impeding the growth of any unwanted organisms.

So, What Should You Do?
Shop Wine AirlocksWhile I recommend using a thin, clean towel to cover the fermenter during the primary fermentation and nothing more, if you are concerned about your fermentation not starting there is a compromising method you could follow:

When you first pitch the wine yeast into the must, put an air-lock on the fermenter. After a few hours, once you see that the fermentation has begun–indicated by activity or foam on the surface–you can then take the air-lock off and safely allow air to get to the must. This is, in a sense, giving you the best of both worlds–the protection and an invigorated wine making fermentation.

As A Side Note:
It is important to note that an air-lock should always be used after the must has gone into its secondary fermentation. This is in agreement with most. This usually starts around the fifth or sixth day, or when the first racking is performed. It is about this time you will notice the fermentation’s activity level starting to taper off.
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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.

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.

Darn It! My Mead Won’t Ferment!

This is my mead the won't finish fermenting.I seem to have a problem making mead. It starts off with an SG [specific gravity] of 1.100 and over a period of 3 days, during primary fermentation it drops to 1.060 and seems to stop. I think that the fermentation has just slowed down and rack it into a secondary fermenter and install an air lock. I rack it a month later and the SG is 1.040. Now it has been three months and the SG is 1.030. Is this normal? Why is it my mead will not ferment?

Thanks Sam
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Hello Sam,

Turning honey into alcohol can sometimes be a difficult task for a wine yeast. This is due mostly to the complexity of some of the sugars contained within the honey, but some of it is also due to the set of nutrients that the honey provides to the wine yeast. Both are issues as to why your mead will not ferment, and both need to be addressed.

Honey has simple sugars as well as complex sugars and everything in between. This is true with all fruits as well, but typically not to the degree as with honey. Simple sugars are easily metabolized by the yeast into alcohol, but complex sugars are not so easily fermented. A complex sugar is a chain of simple sugars that are bound together on a molecular level. These long chains must first be broken apart before they can be metabolized into alcohol by the wine yeast.

Enzymes are produced by the yeast during a fermentation that will help to break down the complex sugars, but often in the case of honey, it is not enough enzyme to keep the fermentation going in a timely manner.

Shop Yeast EnergizerHoney has all different lengths (complexities) of sugar chains. So what happens as the fermentation begins, the wine yeast start off by consuming the simplest sugars first — the lowest hanging fruit — so to speak. As the simple sugars are depleted the yeast move on to the next easiest sugars and so on until there is nothing left but the most complex, longest chains of sugars.

This is what has happened with your fermentation. It started off just fine as it began its way metabolizing the simplest sugars, but when the remaining sugars became nothing but the most complex it became too much of a burden for the wine yeast. The enzymes that the yeast were able to produce were not enough to keep the fermentation going at a reasonable rate. All the yeast was able to do was nibble at the remaining long chains of sugar as it slowly produced the enzymes.

So what can you do? Your only defense is to make sure your yeast stays as healthy as possible by providing it with all the nutrients it needs. This will help the yeast to more readily produce enzymes. Many mead recipes will call for nutrients at the beginning of the fermentation. The trouble is that these nutrients will have long been consumed by the time the yeast get to the difficult part of the fermentation.Shop Magnesium Sulfate

At this point, I would recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of Yeast Energizer for each gallon of mead. This should give the yeast a kick-start. If magnesium sulfate was not called for by the mead recipe, then I would recommend adding it as well at the rate of 1/4 teaspoon per 5 gallons.

Sam, in the future I would make sure that you add both of these at the beginning of the fermentation – regardless of what the recipes says. And if the fermentation starts to slow down at some point, be prepared to add a second dose of yeast energizer.

I hope this have given you some insight as to why sometimes a mead will not ferment. If you would like more information about making mead, you may want to take a look at the article, Making Wine With Honey that is listed on our website. It has some more insights to fermenting honey along with a few mead recipes.

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

10 Random Wine Making Tips And Tricks

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

3 Reasons Why Your Starting Hydrometer Reading Is Wrong

His Starting Hydrometer Reading Is WrongTaking a starting hydrometer reading is one of the most important things you can do when making homemade wine. This is a reading that is taken with a wine hydrometer before the fermentation has started. It is usually taken at the same time the yeast is added to the wine must.

Having an accurate starting hydrometer reading will not only help you verify that you have an acceptable level of sugar in the wine must, it will allow you to determine the finished wine’s alcohol content. This can be done when the starting reading is compared to the finished reading.

The reading is taken on the Specific Gravity scale. This is a scale based on the weight of water. The weight of the wine is being compared to the weight of water. The more sugar in the wine must the heavier it will be. The more sugar in the wine, the more alcohol the yeast can make.

Keeping in mind its importance, here are the 3 reasons why your starting hydrometer reading is wrong. These are scenarios that I have run across more than once while helping beginning winemakers. In each of these 3 situations the hydrometer reading can be thrown off dramatically.

 

  1. Shop HydrometersToo Much Water Was Added: This mostly applies to individuals that are making wine from a wine ingredient kit. These kits typically include around 2 to 4 gallons of concentrate to make 6 gallons. The idea is for the winemaker to add water to make up the difference of the 6 gallons. But on rare occasions a beginning winemaker will add a total 6 gallons of water by mistake giving them an 8, 9, 10… gallon batch of wine. This in turn will give them a very low starting sugar reading on their hydrometer.
  1. Sugars Are Not Mixing Evenly: Before taking a starting hydrometer reading it is important to have the sugars completely dissolved and evenly dispersed throughout the wine must. This is regardless if it is from a concentrate or granulated cane sugar. Not doing so can cause your hydrometer sample to be non-representative of the entire batch. The result is an erroneous reading. For example, if the sugars are not completely dissolved and still hanging towards the bottom of the fermenter, the reading you get from a sample take from the top will be very different from the reading you get when taking a sample through a spigot at the bottom of the fermenter.
  1. Hydrometer Jar Not Being Used: One of the requirements for taking a starting hydrometer reading, is the hydrometer needs to be able to float. If the container being used to hold the sample isn’t tall enough, the hydrometer will sit on the bottom. Again, this will give you a wrong reading. This normally happens when the winemaker is trying to use the plastic tube the hydrometer came in to take the reading. This is something I strongly urge against for the simple fact it is not always tall enough to float the hydrometer. Instead, you should be using a hydrometer jar that is designed specifically for this purpose. It is more than tall enough and has a sturdy base so you can keep the wine sample steady and vertical while taking the reading.Shop Hydrometer Jars

 

These are by far the 3 most common reasons. If you think you have a starting hydrometer reading that is wrong, it is probably because of one of these three. There are other reasons as to why a hydrometer reading might not be completely accurate, such as not having your eye-level even with the surface of the wine, but these are the 3 “big ones”. Avoid doing them and you’ll be sure to have dependable readings.
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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.

A Quick Tip For Racking Wine

Girl Racking WineFirst off, many of you may be wondering, “what does racking wine mean”? So let’s get that out of the way first. In terms of making wine, the definition of racking wine is the process of transferring a wine or must from one fermenter to the next so as to leave the sediment behind.

Racking wine is necessary because you do not want the wine to sit on excessive amounts of sediment over extended periods of time. Doing so, can cause your wine to develop off-flavors.

Many beginning winemakers will often lose too much wine during the racking process. This happens because they try to eliminate all the sediment with each racking at the expense of losing some wine. In other words, they leave behind too much wine because they feel it has too much sediment with it.

Losses can total up to 3 or 4 bottles in a 5 or 6 gallon batch when using this type of methodology. Losing wine is something I’m not particularly to fond of, and I doubt you are either.

Here’s the tip for racking wine: to minimize losses when racking wine, always try to get as much liquid as possible each time you rack, even if some sediment comes with it. It’s not about leaving all the sediment behind. It’s about leaving the bulk of the sediment behind. Get as much wine as you can. It’s not until you get to your very last racking – usually the racking right before bottling – that you will want to eliminate all of the sediment at the expense of a little wine.Shop Auto Siphon

By the time you get to this point in the wine making process, there is usually only a little dusting of sediment to deal with, anyway. So your wine loss will be very minimal – usually it will be less than half a bottle of wine.
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Wine of the Month: Apple Wine

Apple wine, also commonly referred to hard cider, is one of the oldest fermented beverages in the United States. This crisp, sweet wine can be made from fresh apples, apple concentrate, or even apple cider. Even better, October is the perfect time to pick apples from your local orchard. Fall is a great time to make this wine. Read on to find out more about apple wine, along with our exclusive recipe and wine pairing tips.

Continue reading

Wine of the Month: Pear Wine

Our wine of the month is pear wine. This lightly colored, sweet wine packs in the nutrients given the healthful properties of its main ingredient: pears. In addition to a delicious recipe, we’ve got some useful tips so you get the most flavor out of your wine.

Why should I make pear wine?

Pears are a member of the rose family of plants and are chockfull of antioxidants, dietary fiber, and flavonoids. In fact, about half of the fiber found in the pear can be found in its skin. The phylonutrients contained in this delicious fruit not only contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, but also contain cinnamic acids that can help prevent cancer and decrease the risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Pears, along with apples, are known to have the second highest number of flavonols among all fruits and veggies.

Now let’s get to the wine part. Due to the fact that pear wine is a fruit wine rather than a grape wine, it has a higher ORAC content. In short, this means that it’s winning the antioxidant game. We’ll cheers to that!

Recipe:

Makes about 5 gallons
20lbs of Pears
10 lbs. of Sugar
1 tbsp. of Yeast Energizer
1/2 tsp. of Pectic Enzyme
3 tbsp. of Acid Blend
1/2 tsp. Wine Tannin
Yeast EC-1118

There are a few things to keep in mind while you’re making your pear wine. For the best results, you should slightly over ripen the pears. This is key, because they aren’t an extremely flavorful fruit by nature. If you don’t let them ripen, the wine will have more of an apple flavor. Let them get extremely soft (without rotting) and you’ll set yourself up for success. Also ensure that you rinse your pears before you crush them.

Where and how can I find pears?

The state of Washington is the largest grower of pears in the United States. It accounts for half of all of the pears distributed in the country, followed by California and Oregon. Most of the pears found in US grocery stores fall into the European Pear category. They can be found in green, yellow, red, gold, and brown. Once you find them at the grocery store, you’ll need to give them a few days to ripen. Just make sure you watch them carefully, because once they ripen, they tend to perish quickly. It can be hard to determine ripeness because many pears do not change color as they ripen.

What foods does pear wine pair best with?

Given pear wine’s light and refreshing taste, it pairs well with bold and flavorful cheeses like blue cheese and goat cheese. Spread some cheese on a cracker and sip some pear wine in between for the perfect pre-dinner snack. As for main courses, pear wine tastes great with white meats, either baked or roasted. Finish off the meal with a fruit or nut-based dessert and you’ve successfully and deliciously paired your pear wine!

3 Tips For Making Homemade Pear Wine At Home

Pears For Making WineI have tried several times making wine from pears and always end up with a wine that tastes like weak moonshine. It has a smooth taste but not much flavor. I had a friend make some homemade pear wine as well and his turned out the same way. We have come to the conclusion that there is probably sugar locked into the fruit that is being released during the fermentation. My question is do you think our conclusion is correct and if so how can I go about figuring how much sugar to add to the fermentation. I think these pears will make a very fine wine if I can just figure out the recipe.

Jeff L — PA
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Hello Jeff,

In general, pears do not have a lot of flavor relative to other fruits. Think of the raspberries used to make a raspberry wine. When you taste a raspberry you know it. They are bursting with flavor.

Pears on the other hand are not bursting with flavor. When you bite into a pear you can tell it’s a pear. You can taste its character, but it’s nothing explosive like a strawberry, blueberry or even peach. Put the pear flavor up against the tongue-numbing effects of alcohol – such as the situation of a homemade pear wine – and you have something that tastes just like you described, weak moonshine.

Here are some tips for making homemade pear wine at home. These are some ideas for getting more pear flavor into the wine when using fresh pears.

 

Tip #1 For Making Homemade Pear Wine
One trick I have found to work well when making pear wine is to let the pears get as ripe as possible. Let the pears get as soft as you can without letting them turn to rot. If some pears are turning quicker than others, you can put them in a bath of sulfite solution, whole, until the other pears are ready. This will stop the pears from rotting any further.

Allowing the pears to become as ripe as possible will go a long way towards getting you a homemade pear wine with more pear character. When pears are early they taste closer to an apple. As they develop, the flavor that makes a pear, a pear, starts to become more pronounced.

Shop Hydrometers

 

Tip #2 For Making Homemade Pear Wine
Don’t drive the alcohol level of your pear wine up too high. Try to keep it around 10% to 12%. This can be done with the aid of a hydrometer. Use the potential alcohol scale on the hydrometer. As you add more sugar, the wine must will rise on the potential alcohol scale. Having the alcohol too high will give the pear wine a watery impression. This is because the high alcohol level is numbing your tongue to the flavors that are actually there.

 

Tip #3 For Making Homemade Pear Wine
Going back directly to your question, if you are using chopped fresh pears for making wine, the sugars in the pears should be release during the fermentation. The enzymes produced by the wine yeast will break down the pear pulp, releasing the sugars and the flavors. If you are not using an actual wine yeast, the correct enzymes are not being produced to break the pear pulp down.

Use wine yeast only. For pear wine we recommend Lalvin EC-1118 wine yeast. In addition, also be sure to add pectic enzyme. This will help to break down the fruit fiber, as well. Pectic enzyme is important in helping to get more flavor from the fruit.

Try mashing up the pears a bit. Once they have been cubed, you can use something like a cleaned and sanitized 2 by 4 to crush them. You are not looking for apple sauce consistency. You just want the fiber structure of the pulp to be disrupted some. This will allow the enzymes to break down the fruit fiber more quickly. By getting to the fruit fiber more quickly, you are getting both more flavor and more sugar from the pears.Shop Wine Making Kit

 

By employing these tips you will be able to make a better homemade pear wine, one that actually tastes like pear. If you are still not sure what to go from here, you may want to take a look our pear wine recipe. This recipe makes 5 gallons of pear wine. It’s an easy recipe, straight-forward recipe that should help you out.

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.