2 Great Questions About Bottling Homemade Wine.

Screw-Cap-Wine-Bottle1. Are the mushroom cork or t-corks easy to install, or do you need special equipment. Do they seal as well as regular wine corks, (over time)?

2. Wine bottles that have a screw top, can you reuse them with a wine cork?

Name: Tom H.
State: Davison, MI
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Hello Tom,

The T-corks (mushroom corks) are very easy to install. This is the biggest advantage to using them over traditional wine bottle corks. You do not need a wine bottle corker or any mechanism of any kind. You simply put T-corks in by hand. Every now and then you may get a stubborn one, but that can easy be remedied by tapping on it with a rubber mallet or similar.

The biggest disadvantage with T-corks is that they are not meant for long-term storage. Some wines made from fresh grapes or maybe elderberries may require several years of aging. These are not the corks to use for that situation. We recommend using T-corks for wines that you intend to drink within a one to two years.

Shop T-CorksAs to your second question about using wine bottle corks on a screw-cap wine bottle, the answer is “not advisable”. This is for two reasons. The first is that the size of the opening of the wine bottle is critical to the success of the wine bottle cork. The wine bottling opening needs to be 3/4″. This is not the case with most screw-cap wine bottles. They are all close, but usually off a bit.

The second reason, and the one that is most important, is the shape of some screw-cap wine bottles are not correct to accept a wine bottle cork. The opening of the wine bottle needs to be a straight barrel. With some screw-cap wine bottles the barrel is not straight. The shoulder of the wine bottle rises too high to accommodate a straight barrel opening that a wine bottle cork needs, so what you end up with is a slightly-flared barrel opening.

Without this straight-barrel opening two things can happen:

 

  1. The cork does not seal tightly enough along the whole length of its side. As the barrel opening flares out, the resistance against the side of the cork becomes less and less.
  1. Because of this flaring and uneven resistance, it can actually entice the wine cork stopper to pull down into the bottle. I’ve seen this happen more than once. Think of squeezing a marble between your fingers. If you don’t squeeze it evenly or to one side, it pops out. This is the same effect that can happen when corking a screw-cap bottle that has a flared barrel.

 

Thanks for the great questions, Tom.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

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.

Is Wine Yeast And Baking Yeast The Same?

Wine Yeast Not Baking YeastI need you to help me settle a bet with a friend who also makes wine.  He says that wine yeast is no different than what you can get in the store to make bread with.  His quote “yeast is yeast”.  I say that it is different, although I can’t explain how.  Please help settle this and let us know who has to pay up, plus if there is a difference between wine yeast and baking yeast can you explain it to me.

Thanks,
Jamie
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Hello Jamie,

I’m going to be brutally honest, here. I hope this doesn’t break-up a good friendship.

To say that yeast is yeast is like saying a dog is a dog. Over the centuries dogs have been bred for various, specific tasks: hunting, herding, personal protection, attacking, protecting herds, companionship, etc. The same can be said for yeast. They have been bred over the decades to perform specific tasks: rising bread, making alcohol, bio-degrading oils, pharmaceutical production, etc.

So to bring this analogy full circle, when you’re making wine with a baking yeast, you’re hunting grizzlies with a chihuahua. Sorry friend, but wine yeast and baking yeast are not the same. In fact, they are very different. I would never recommend making wine with bread or baking yeast.

Shop Yeast NutrientWine yeast in particular is bred to obtain higher alcohol levels than baking yeast. On average, bread yeast will get you 9 or 10%. Anything higher than that is possible, but the baking yeast will have to struggle considerably.

Wine yeast are bred to thrive very well with the set of nutrients fruits naturally provide. Baking yeast, on the other hand, prefers the balance of nutrients found in grains or bread doughs.

Wine yeast clears more quickly from the wine than baking yeast. Wine yeast is bred to clump together as the fermentation activity slows – a process known as flocculation. The clumping allows the wine yeast to drop out and settle to the bottom more quickly. Baking yeast does not clump or flocculate. Instead, it slowly settles to the bottle as a fine haze. This process can take weeks instead of days.

Wine yeast foams less than baking yeast. This is because wine yeast are bred to produce less surface tension in the liquid than baking yeast.

Wine yeast is also more tolerant to sulfites than baking yeast. The wine yeast has actually been acclimated to coexist with some residual sulfites such as Campden tablets in the wine. This means that wine yeast can ferment just fine with some sulfites in the wine must. Baking yeast is not as fortunate. Even small amounts of sulfites can stop a wine fermentation dead in its tracks.Shop Wine Making Kits

Another issue is that bread yeast is only packaged under food-grade conditions. This is certainly suitable for baking. The yeast is only being utilized for a few hours, not days, so the perpetuation of any contaminating organisms do not have enough time to do any damage.

On the other hand, with wine yeast we are talking days if not weeks that the yeast is in play. This is plenty of time for stray organisms riding on the yeast to potentially breed into a full-fledged infestation spoiling the wine. For this reason, wine yeast is package under sterile conditions. This is far more stringent than food-grade packaging.

To sum all this up, you can certainly make wine with a baking yeast, but you will be sacrificing flavor and potentially alcohol. You are also increasing the likelihood of having a stuck fermentation. This is because of issues with nutrients and the use of sodium metabisulfite.

So, as I think you can see, wine yeast and baking yeast are not the same. In fact, there are many differences between the two. That combined with the fact that wine yeast is not all that expensive to buy, why wouldn’t you use it in your winemaking?Shop Wine Yeast

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

My Wine’s Starting Specific Gravity Is Too High

Starting Specific Gravity Is Too HighHi, I followed a recipe for blueberry wine that called for 15 pounds of sugar and 20 pounds of frozen blueberries for a 6 gallon batch. I just measured it with my wine hydrometer and got a reading of 1.148 ! I know this starting specific gravity is too high. Is there anything I can do other than hope for the best ? I am new to wine making and have no idea ?

Marshall S. – IA
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Hello Marshall,

Well, that’s an interesting wine recipe. The starting specific gravity reading you got on your hydrometer, does make since with that much fruit and sugar being added. The bad news is that the odds of a fermentation even starting at that high of a specific gravity reading is very low. When the concentration of sugar gets too high, it starts to act as a preservative, keeping the yeast from fermenting.

The good news is that I think we can fix it. Simply put, your wine’s starting specific gravity is too high, and we need to think about how we can lower it.

Shop Hydrometer JarsIn reality, there are two concerns. The first one is the most obvious: too much sugar for the yeast to start fermenting. That’s what the specific gravity reading is telling – how much sugar. But there is also a concern that there may be too much blueberry – enough to make the wine overly tart and astringent. With that being said, here’s what you can do:

 

  • Dilute the wine must with water until you get a reading of 1.100. If you like, you can use a Pearson square to calculate how much water to add to get from 1.148 to 1.100. (Water has a S.G. of 1.000) There will still be plenty of blueberry flavor to go around. Our blueberry wine recipe only calls for 13 lbs. to 5 gallons, so don’t worry about weakening the wine’s flavor too much. And besides, you really don’t have much choice when your wine’s starting specific gravity is too high. The yeast aren’t even beginning to think about fermenting with that much sugar.
  • Take an acid reading with an acid test kit. This will tell you if the blueberries are still providing enough tartness to make the resulting wine taste right. The directions in the acid test kit will tell you what range you are shooting for. My guess if that you will need to add a little Acid Blend after diluting with water to bring the acidity up a bit. But, if the acid level is still too high, you will want to dilute the wine must with even more water. Just try to keep your wine’s starting specific gravity above 1.075.
  • Once you have the sugar level and acidity in a decent range, it’s all smooth sailing. If you haven’t added add yeast nutrient at this point, I most certainly would, now. The same goes for pectic enzyme, and wine tannin. If you got the ingredients from us, you will find recommend dosages on the side of each container.Shop Acid Test Kit

 

If you have already added the wine yeast you can still do all of the above. The yeast will be fine. If you have not, be sure to use and actual wine yeast. Don’t add a bread yeast.

Once you’ve got the specific gravity and acidity level ironed out, you will continue on like you normally would with any winemaking process. Here’s an wine making infographic that lays out the basic steps for you.

Hope this information helps you out. I urge you to do the above steps. Don’t dump it out. Nothing you have done or will do in the above steps will compromised this wine in any way, so it will be well worth the effort. Believe me, you are not that only one that’s ran into this problem. Many home winemaker’s have gotten their wine’s starting specific gravity too high. Just take things a step at a time and your wine will be out of the woods.

I would like to welcome you to take a look at our wine recipes that are free for anyone to use. These a solid, time-tested wine recipes that will keep you out of trouble in your future wine making adventures.

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

What Size Corks Should I Get For Bottling My Wine?

Different Size Corks For Bottling WineIf you’re getting ready to buy corks to bottle your wine you may be wondering which size corks you should get. We offer four different sizes of wine cork stopper. They are sizes: #7, #8, #9 and #10. These numbers refer to the diameter of the cork. The higher the number, the larger the diameter of the cork.

The opening of a standard, 750 ml wine bottle is 3/4 of an inch. If you have a wine bottle corker you will want to purchase either the size #8 or size #9 corks. The diameter of these corks are 7/8″ and 15/16″, respectively. Size #9 corks is what the commercial wineries use. Either will require a wine bottle corker to press them into the bottle.

Which size cork you get depends on the type of wine bottle corker you have. Any wine bottle corker on the market can put in the size #8 wine cork, however some wine bottle corkers have trouble putting in a full-size #9 cork.

If the corker was purchased from E. C. Kraus, you will be able to put in a size #9 or #8 cork just fine. If your corker was purchased from somewhere else then some caution will be required.Shop Wine Corks

Some wine bottle corks on the market use a funnel-design to compress the cork. The wine cork is shoved through a funnel into the opening of the wine bottle. For the most part, this design of corker will work okay for a size #8 cork, but if you want to put in a full-size #9 wine cork and get a tighter seal, using a funnel-style corker can be a problem. The larger cork can get pinched and frayed as it goes through the funnel.

All the wine bottle corkers we offer compresses the cork evenly, from all sides then plunges the cork into the barrel opening of the wine bottle. With this method of corking no damage will come to the cork, as it is not be contorted through a funnel opening.

We do not recommend using size #7 cork, but we do offer them for individuals who want to put their corks in by hand. This size wine cork is small enough in diameter to be put in without a wine bottle corker. The downside is that they do not seal the wine bottle very well. In fact, if you lay the wine bottle on its side, there is a fair change that the #7 wine cork will seep some wine. For this reason you should store wine bottle upright if using this size of wine cork.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

Size #10 corks are for larger size bottles. While many larger bottle still have the same 3/4 inch opening that the 750 ml have, some larger size wine bottles have larger openings that will require this larger size cork.
———————————–
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 A Yeasty Smell In My Wine. Should I Dump It!?

Noticing Yeasty Smell In WineI’m still learning this process but haven’t had this happen. Got 3 gallons of Muscadine wine I was gonna bottle up. When opened up it has a very strong “yeasty” smell in the wine. Made this a couple times and never had this happen. Only thing I did different was use a different wine yeast. (Montrachet instead of lavlin 71b 1122.) I may have forgotten to rack the wine after it had been placed in the secondary fermenter. Either forgot to write it in log or didn’t do it. Seems I read somewhere that could cause this issue. Anyway, should I bottle this or dump it and start a new batch when the Muscadines ripen this summer. Thanks for the advice……..

Name: Bill B
State: SC
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Hello Bill,

There is absolutely no reason to dump any wine because it has a yeasty smell. This is an issue that comes about from time to time that is easily overcome.

It is true that different wine yeast have different amounts of yeast odors, but the yeast smell also increases the more the yeast become stressed. If the fermentation is done in an environment that does not make the wine yeast happy, you will get more of this odor.Shop Wine Yeast

Examples causing stress are:

  • Fermenting at too warm of a temperature
  • Fermenting with not enough nutrients in the wine must
  • Fermenting with too little yeast to perform the job at hand

The last one typically happens with old wine yeast is used, or a significant portion of the yeast cells are killed in the rehydration process.

Most of the time this odor will go away on it’s own throughout the natural course of the winemaking process. Racking the wine is one of the times that this odor is able to release from the wine and dissipate. You stated that you are not sure if you racked the wine, so this could be all that’s wrong with the wine.

Another normal activity in the winemaking process that releases this odor is adding sulfites. This would either be Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. If you do not ever add any of these then this can contribute to the yeasty smell in the wine.

Shop Potassium BisulfiteA sulfite should always be added to a wine anyway to protect it from spoilage and oxidation, but doing so also drives out unwanted volatile gases that are in the wine from the fermentation – such as the ones you are smelling. If you haven’t done so already, the simple task of adding a standard dose of sulfites and waiting a few days may be all that is needed.

Since you are not sure if you racked your wine or not, I’m guess that all you need to do is rack the wine and add sulfites. Hope this should get rid of the yeasty smell in your wine. In not, repeat the process. Rack the wine in a splashing manner and then add sulfites again.

If you find that the yeast smell in the wine is not leaving that you may want to take a look at what to do about treating wine with a hydrogen sulfite issue.

Just remember next time to keep your wine yeast happy, regardless of the type used; rack your wine sufficiently; and always use sulfites in your wine. Do these things and you should not have this problem again.Shop Mini Jet Wine Filter

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.

There’s A White Scum On Top Of My Homemade Wine

White Scum On Top Of Homemade WineBill has made a few small batches of home wine, and all went well. This year we did a strawberry-rhubarb and on the third racking in a 5 gal jug, it developed a thin white scum over the center of top. We could get past the film to re-rack, but Bill is concerned it is ruined…is it? Has this white scum on top of his homemade wine ruined it?

Name: Gidget M.
State: PA
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Hello Gidget,

What this sounds like is something called flowers or flowers of wine. It starts off as patches of white scum or a white film. If left uncheck it can grow to cover the entire surface of the wine. It is actually a small bacterial growth on the wines surface.

Just because the wine has this white scum or film on top does not mean it is ruined by any means, but some actions should be taken to see that it does not get any worse.

Just as you have suggested, you need to rack the wine away from the bacterial growth. Draw the wine from the center of the fermenter, passed the white film on top, but not from the vary bottom, either. Once you get it racked, dose it with either Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. Any of these will easily destroy any bacteria cells that may still be in the wine.

Shop Potassium BisulfiteWhat allowed the white scum on top of your homemade wine to occur in the first place was having too much head-space in with the fermenter with the wine. This is okay during a fermentation, when CO2 gas is coming off the liquid, but after the fermentation the head-space needs to be eliminated.

It is the air in contact with the wine that can promote a bacterial growth such as the one you are experiencing. In the future, after the fermentation has completed, I would suggest that you keep whatever fermenter the wine is in topped-up. There are many ways you can top-up a fermenter. You can read more about this in the follow article: Topping Up Your Homemade Wines.

I would also recommend that you automatically add one of the three forms of sulfite mention earlier after the fermentation. This will dramatically help keep your homemade wines from getting this white scum or film.

Going back to your strawberry/rhubarb wine, it is fine. Based on your description, it does not sound like the white scum or film advanced enough to affect the wine’s flavor in any significant way. If sulfites are added to the wine, flavor and aroma would be the only concern to take into consideration. Rack the wine, and add sulfites.

Once the wine has cleared and is ready to bottle, sample it and see what you think. The wine will be perfectly safe to drink. You are only noting the flavor and aroma.Shop Sanitizers

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.

My Homemade Wine Has A Sour-Bitter Taste

Wine Is Sour BitterI have made two batches of wine from wild grapes here in WI. The first one was harsh at first but aged about a year and it turned out very good and smooth. The second batch has been bottled now for about a year and is still sour, bitter and hard to drink. Wondering what I could do with it besides just sweetening it – don’t care much for sweet wine. I am about ready to pick some for the next vintage and am trying to figure out what I can do ahead of time to get it to turn out better. I read some in the blogs about adding acid blend before you bottle if it is too blah but what can be done if I sample before I bottle and it is way too harsh?

Name: Mike S.
State: Wisconsin
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Hello Mike,

There are two major reasons a homemade wine will have a sour or bitter taste:

 

  • There is too much acid in the wine
    If your homemade wine has a sour taste it could simply be from the fact that the fruit used to make the wine was too tart. In other words, the wine has too much fruit acid from the fruit, itself. Also, a homemade wine can have a sour taste if too much fruit acid was added to the Shop Potassium Bisulfitewine must by way of acid blend. Regardless, if your wine has a sour taste for this reason there are corrective steps you can take to make sure that this does not happen with the batch of wine your are getting ready to make.  I would suggest taking a look at the article on our website, Getting A Handle On Wine Acidity. This will fill you in on what to do. As for your current batch of wine, there are some things your can do to lower the acidity level.
  • The wine is turning to vinegar
    If your homemade wine has a sour taste it could also be caused by vinegar bacteria (acetobacter). The bacteria infects the wine an slowly begins to turn it to vinegar. There are two ways to distinguish vinegar sour from just plain too tart. The first being, the wine will become more sour as time goes buy. The second way is by smell. Having a homemade wine with a sour taste from fruit acid will have no smell from this, but a wine with a bacterial infection will also have a sour smell. The number one reason for a wine to be infected with acetobacter is sanitation. If you are not using sanitizers to clean your wine making equipment and wine bottles, then this could definitely be the cause. If you are not using sulfites such as either: sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite or Campden tablets directly in the wine, then this could be the cause. An article on our web site that will put you on the right track is The Many Uses Of Sodium Bisulfite.

 

Shop Acid Reducing CrystalsBitter is caused by having too much tannin in the wine. Tannin is the dry, woody tasting stuff that can be experience when chewing on a grape skin. If the grapes are over processed or chopped, such as using a blender, etc., too much tannin may be coming out of the grapes and into the wine must. This will give your homemade wine a bitter taste. It is important that you only crush the grapes. All you are looking to do is burst the grape skins. Anything more than this is overkill.

It is possible to reduce the bitterness of a wine. Treating the wine with bentonite will help to drop out some of the tannin as a sediment.

How long you keep the skins in the fermentation can make a difference in bitterness, also. A reasonable amount of time would be 3 to 5 days. If you left the skins in the fermentation longer than this, than you may want to adjust what you do this season.

Shop BentoniteMike, I hope this info helps you out for this year.

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 Homemade Wine Will Not Clear

Wine Will Not ClearI have a peach wine that has a haze to it. The wine will not clear. It has been chilled for 2 weeks after fermentation, racked 4 times and I have added fining agents. It cleared to this fine haze but will not clear any further. Is this a wine that is not going to completely clear and I just need to live with it? Oh yea, there was pectic enzyme added at the start. What are your thoughts? Thanks

Name: Echota
State: TN
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Hello Echota,

Base on information you have given, it sounds like the reason your homemade wine will not clear is because you have a pectin haze, even though pectic enzyme was added at the beginning.

Fining agents will take out the particles in a wine that can cause it to be cloudy, but a pectin haze is different. It is not caused by particles. It is caused by the actual make up of the liquid itself. The pectin chemically bonds to the wine, making it impossible to clear with just fining agents such as bentonite or isinglass.

The standard dose of pectic enzyme called for in most wine recipes is enough to breakdown and drop out a usual amount of pectin from the fruit, but in some instances the amount of pectin in a wine must can be unexpectedly large. This leads to the situation you are describing where your homemade wine will not clear, completely.

Shop Pectic EnzymeOne way to know for sure if your wine is experiencing a pectin haze is to take a sample of the wine, say a half-full quart mason jar, and add a ridiculous amount of pectic enzyme to it. If the wine clears without leaving any sediment, then you know that a pectin haze is the reason for you wine being cloudy.

If the wine clears, but leaves sediment behind, then you know it is a particle haze – not a pectin haze – and more time, gravity and fining agents is the answer to resolving this issue.

Clearing up a stubborn pectin haze in a wine after the fermentation has stopped is somewhat difficult, but it can be done. It’s simply a matter of adding more pectic enzyme to the wine.

The problem really lies with the fact that the fermentation is no longer fermenting. This causes the pectic enzyme to take longer to do it’s thing, so some patience will be needed. It could take as long as a month or two for the pectic enzyme to clear up the wine completely.

If you are using our liquid pectic enzyme the standard dose is 1/8 teaspoon for each gallon of wine. However, in this situation you want to add a double dose of 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of wine. This is in addition to any pectic enzyme you added at the beginning of fermentation. If you are using a powdered pectic enzyme the story is the same. Add double the recommended dosage listed on the package and give it time.

shop BentoniteWhen ever a homemade wine will not clear you always want to look towards protein particles such as yeast cells, tannin, etc to be the cause. These are things that can be easily dropped out with fining agents and wine clarifiers. But whenever you get into a situation where that last little bit will not clear out of the wine, no matter what you try, then it’s time to start suspecting a pectin haze to the reason your wine will not clear.

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.

There Are Black Spots In My Wine

Black Spots In WineI have made a number of batches of fruit wine and consumed most of it. This is the first time I have used cherimoya in a persimmon blend. Cherimoya is a very sweet fruit, large amounts of sediment, and does not fully clear after racking it four times.

The bottled wine is stored on its side in a dark environment for 6 months. Placing a bottle on its side creates a small air bubble at the top most section of the bottle. A black spot appears on the inside of the bottle within the air bubble. Most of these black spot will merge with the wine after the bottle is turned upright for a day or so.

What is this black spot in my wine?

Name: Mark A.
State: Hawaii
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Hello Mark,

It’s hard to know precisely what these black spots in your wine are, but normally we associate having black spots in your wine with either a mold or bacteria growth. Combined with the fact that it is appearing where there is an air pocket in the wine bottle, I would say that it is more likely to be a growth of some sort. This is where you would typically see mold or bacteria to start to grow – next to the air.

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteIf you did not add a sulfite to your wine before bottling such as: Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite, this would strongly add to my belief that a mold or bacteria is trying to grow in your wine. Sulfites are needed to help protect the wine from spoilage while it is in the wine bottle.

In addition to bottling time, you should also be using Campden tablets in the wine must before the fermentation. This is to rid the wine must from contaminates that may have come along with the fruit. The sulfites are added 24 hours before the wine yeast. Leave the the fermenter uncovered during this 24 hours to allow the sulfites to dissipate, otherwise they can interfere with the fermentation.

If you did not sanitize your wine bottles in addition to cleaning them with soapy water, this would also make me think that you are dealing with a mold or bacteria and could easily be the reason you have black spots in your wine. Cleaning the grime from the wine bottles is not good enough. They need to be sanitize with something like: Basic A, Cleanpro SDH, B-Brite. Any of these will easily destroy the microscopic contaminants that can grow in your wine.Shop Basic A

If you have been doing all the above, it is still possible for a mold  or bacteria to contaminate a wine and cause these black spots to form in your wine. It’s just a little harder to know how it is happening. It could be from the corks, screw-caps or whatever you are using to close the wine bottle. It could be from a piece of equipment you are using that has a nook-or-cranny that is not getting sanitized sufficiently. It could also be something as blindsiding as the sulfites you are using are old and expired. Any and all things must be considered.

After having said all this, I would like to point out that if you had said the black spots where at the lower part of the wine bottle my answer would have been completely different. I would have attributed this to tannins dropping out of the wine. This is very common and expected with some wines. But the fact that you said the black spot were next to the air pocket makes all the difference in the world.

Shop Bottle TreeAny time there are black spots in your wine, there is reason for concern. At this point I would be very hesitant to drink the wine for fear of getting sick. It is possible to save the wine by putting it all back in a fermenter; add sulfites, and re-bottle. The sulfites will kill the mold or bacteria. However, I do not recommend doing this if there is any question to the smell of flavor of the wine. Adding sulfite at this point will only stop the wine from getting worse and make it safe to drink. It will not improve the wine’s flavor or aroma. So if the wine taste or smells bad now, don’t waist your time and effort. Dump it.

Best Wishes,
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.

Do Wine Ingredient Kits Need Adjusting?

Wine Ingredient Kit That Does Not Need AdjustingI purchased a California Connoisseur Merlot concentrate kit. Do wine ingredient kits need adjusting of any kind. Like does this concentrate consist of tannins?  If it does, would it hurt to add tannin to help it’s staying qualities? Should I have an acid testing kit?  If so, does the tannin have to be added during/before fermentation or can I put it in at any time? Are there any other adjustments that need to be made to these wine ingredient kits?

Doug B.
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Hello Doug,

Thank you for this great question about adjusting wine ingredient kits.

All of the wine ingredient kits we offer have been adjusted and bench-tested with sample batches to produce a balanced, stable wine with great flavor. Any attempts to make further adjustments with various wine making ingredients such as wine tannin, acid blend or flavorings are completely unnecessary and more likely to be counterproductive.

These wine ingredient kits come complete with all the additional packets of wine making ingredients you will need to add to the wine along the way. All that is required of you to make a perfectly balanced wine is to follow the instructions that are included with these wine ingredient kits.

TShop Wine Kitshe producers of these kits crush the grapes and allow the juice to sit on the pulp until the right amount of flavor, color and body components are extracted from the grape skins into the juice. After the extraction process, the pulp is removed and the grape juice is concentrated, and sample batches of wine are made. It is at this time that any necessary adjustments are made to the grape concentrate for the sake of flavor balance and stability.

You can go ahead and make adjustments by adding other wine making ingredients to the wine must, however you will be running the risk of upsetting the stability and flavor balance of the resulting wine. In the case of adding tannin to a wine ingredient kit, you could be adding more than the wine will be able to saturate or hold within the liquid. This could result in the development of dark, dusty deposits in your wine bottles over time.

Shop Wine Making KitsDoug, I hope this answers your question about adjusting wine ingredient kits. I hope you can start to see, a lot of care goes into the production process of these wine ingredient kits, so much so that they do not need any further adjusting of any kind. Once they are packaged they are ready to be made simply by following the directions that come with them. Add the additional packets as called for, and you will be making a stable wine with great balance and flavor.

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.