Careful! Using Reverse Osmosis Water For Wine Making Can Be A Problem

Using Reverse Osmosis In Wine MakingYour newsletter states that using distilled water for making wine is not recommended but what about tap water filtered via reverse osmosis? Can I use reverse osmosis water for wine making?

Thank You
John
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Hello John,

You are correct. We do not recommend using distilled water. Not only does the distilling process remove valuable, free oxygen from the water, but it also removes all the minerals. Both are much-needed commodities for the yeast during a fermentation. If either are missing, it can lead to a sluggish or stuck fermentation.

Likewise, we do not recommend using reverse osmosis water for wine making, either. While the free oxygen does remain in the water through osmosis filtering process, critical minerals are still being removed. Magnesium sulfate can be added back to the water in an attempt to restore it for fermentation, but this is more or less putting a band-aid on the issue.

Shop Magnesium SulfateYour better option would be to purchase bottled drinking water. These bottled drinking water typically will either have the original, natural minerals in them, or the water has been completely purified and then had an optimal blend of minerals added back. Either way, this would be a better option than using distilled or reverse osmosis water in wine making.

It is also important to note that while free oxygen in the water is good for the fermentation, it is bad for the wine once the fermentation has completed. Having free oxygen in the wine after the fermentation can lead to oxidation or browning of the wine.

Fortunately, most all of the oxygen that is in the must before fermentation is either consumed by the yeast or quickly driven out by the CO2 gas from the fermentation. So, while we do recommend using water that is saturated in oxygen before the fermentation, after the fermentation, we recommend using distilled water for making any necessary adjustments or for topping-up after the fermentation.

To sum it up, using reverse osmosis water for wine making is really not ideal, essentially because of that lack of trace minerals that are removed in the process. You would be better served in most cases by using tap water over reverse osmosis or maybe even bottle drinking water, if you are so inclined. Shop Aeration System

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.

4 thoughts on “Careful! Using Reverse Osmosis Water For Wine Making Can Be A Problem

  1. I have always enjoyed all the tips provided, however, I am not sure I can completely agree with your statement that using tap water is better than using reverse osmosis (RO) water. While I concur with the use of distilled water and that a loss in minerals from RO water can impact taste, so do locations with high mineral (hard water) and chlorine levels in their water. In fact, I have been to many places in the US where I can hardly stomach the taste of their tap water and can not image trying to make wire with it.

    I have found that using RO water is results in my wine tasting far better than simply using tap water. I made many comparisons with wine batches using RO vs tap water. in each case, the RO water was much more desirable. For this reason, I added larger tanks for my home wine making.

    I make about 100 gallons of wine a year for over 12 years, all with RO water and never had issues with fermentation. We’ve had several wine tasting parties with friends and family. Oftentimes, our home made wines are picked ask the “winner” over many commercially produced wines.

    Perhaps it is best to say that it could depend on the tap water in your particular location and for others to try a batch with each type of water in your area.

    Thanks for all your advise. It is very much appreciated..

    • Michael, you are absolutely right. That was a bit of an over-statement. Where we live — here in Independence, Missouri — the water is spectacular. It’s some of the best in the U.S. But I have been to many places where the tap water isn’t fit to drink, much less make wine with. So, you are right and “it depends” would be a better way to put it.

  2. I have been using our tap water, but running it through a filter (like for a refrigerator) and had no problem. Second choice is to use spring water.

  3. I have been using RO water for years and prior to that using bottled drinking water, and really have not noticed ANY difference in the quality of the wine I have made – usually about 7 gallons per year which most people I pass whatever I am making say they enjoy.

    Just a thought.

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