To Airlock, Or Not To Airlock…

Airlock For Wine FermentationMy kit wine calls to immediately put the contents of the juice, wine yeast, etc. in an air-tight container with an airlock. However all over your site it says NOT to put it in an air-tight container for the first 5-7 days because it will inhibit the growth of the wine yeast. Can you clear this up for me?

Name: Dennis
State: North Carolina
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Hello Dennis,

It is a matter of weighing all the pros and cons differently.

The reason you use an fermentation airlock is to protect the wine from contamination. If you leave the lid and airlock off the primary fermenter and the fermentation begins in a timely manner and ferments vigorously, there is very little chance of the wine becoming compromised in any way. Not only is the CO2 gas rapidly rising off the fermentation, protecting it from fall-out of airborne nasties, the vigorous activity of the wine yeast themselves are destroying any contaminants that my make their way to the liquid.

The harder the wine ferments, the more protected the wine will be, and the sooner your wine will have completed its fermenting.

Wine kit manufacturers say to themselves, “we do not know that everyone’s fermentation is going to start as it should. What if it doesn’t and the airlock is not being used? Then there is a possibility of the fermentation being taken over by a mold or bacteria. We would rather be safe, because we are not sure every single fermentation will start-off as intended.”

So it comes down to this:Shop Wine Airlocks

  • Leaving the lid and airlock off will allow the primary fermentation to start sooner and continue more rapidly, but it can also leave the fermentation susceptible to contamination should it not start in a timely fashion.
  • Leaving the lid and airlock on will keep the fermentation much more protect, but it will cause there primary fermentation to go more slowly.

I would like to point out that keeping an airlock off the primary fermentation is not something we made up. It is regularly practiced in the wine industry. It is also the typical way a fresh fruit wine is made by home winemakers.

Also, I would like to make it clear that we are only talking about the primary fermentation. As the fermentation starts to slow down, and it becomes time to rack the wine into a secondary fermenter, you should always be using an airlock. The same hold true if the fermentation is not starting out as strong or as quick as it should; put the lid and airlock on until you see the fermentation is going.Shop Fermenters

As a final point, whether or not you use an airlock during the primary fermentation, the wine will be made. It’s a matter of how fast and vigorous the fermentation proceeds, not a matter of whether or not your wine will turn out, so don’t feel that it is a critical decision because it’s not.

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.

Controlling Oxidation When Making Wine

Homemade Wine That Turned BrownLast fall I acquired some good wine grapes.. red and white not enough of either for 5 gals.. thought I could make a blush, so I added them together.. it turned a reddish color but cloudy. So I added bentonite three weeks later i have clear brown color,  what happened?

Thanks Art
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Hello Art,

It sounds like your homemade wine has oxidized from excessive air exposure. Just like when an apple starts to turn brown after being bitten into, a wine can turn brown when it is exposed to too much air. This is called oxidation.

It was not necessarily caused by letting the wine be in touch with the open air, but in your case, probably had more to do with excessive splashing of the wine when you where using the bentonite. When you splash a wine air can saturate into it much more quickly than if the wine was just sitting still.

Unfortunately, there is no real effective way to reverse this browning effect of oxidation on a homemade wine. However, there are things you can do in the future to reduce its chances of happening again:

  • Keep Splashing To A Minimum: When stirring the wine, stir it in a way that blends the wine but does not splash it. When siphoning or racking the wine, have the end of the hose down into the wine in the fermenter you are filling up. Fill the vessel from the bottom up, so to speak.
  • Add Sulfites To The Wine After Racking: This should only be done to a wine that has completed its fermentation. You can use either Campden tablets or sodium metabisulfite to add sulfites to the wine. The sulfites will help to drive out any saturated oxygen that is in the wine before it has time to negatively affect the wine. You only need to add around 1/2 a standard dose. That would be either 2-1/2 Campden Tablets or one heaping 1/8 teaspoon to 5 gallons of wine.Shop Sodium Metabisulfite
  • Keep Out Of The Heat And Light: Both heat and light will increase a wines susceptibility to oxidation. By keeping the wine in a dark, cool place you are helping to protect the wine from the effects of oxidation.

Now that you are aware that a homemade wine can turn brown from oxidation, I think you can understand that controlling oxidation when making wine is important. Do the three simple thing above, and you will go a long ways oxidation to an unnoticeable level

Best Wishes,
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.

Buying Corks For Wine Bottles

Corks For Wine BottlesSo, your homemade wine is just about ready and you’re preparing to bottle! All the hard work creating your masterpiece is nearly complete and transitions into a more passive process of waiting for the wine to be ready to be shared and enjoyed!

But you must be careful and not get too lax about things, as the bottling process is just as important as every step up until now. Buying corks for your wine bottles is a critical step, as well. Not all corks are the same and the corks you buy must ensure the proper fit for the aging at hand.

Selecting the right wine cork can be an overwhelming process. There are countless sizes, and source materials used. How are you supposed to buy corks when there are so many types from which to choose?  It helps to have a elementary understanding of the basic differences between the different wine corks. And, this is were we will start…

Your first decision when buying corks for wine bottles is whether or not you want to use synthetic corks or natural corks.  The difference between the two is that natural cork allows more oxygen into the wine than synthetic. This is preferable if you want a wine to age more quickly. The downside, however, is that the wine will not keep as long. In other words, the wine will have a short life-cycle. Instead of being fresh in the bottle for 5 or 10 years, it may be necessary to consume the wine within 2 or 3. We have different natural wine corks with different densities for this reason.

Conversely, synthetic corks are great for aging and keeping wines for longer periods of time. The amount of oxygen that is allowed to pass a synthetic cork is very minimal. They are as oxygen restrictive as our best quality natural corks. So as you can start to see, when buying corks for your wine bottles, natural vs. synthetic become an important decision.

Now, you need to consider the size of the corks. You’ll be happy to know that all cork-finish wine bottles have the same opening. This is regardless if they are 375 mL or 750 mL in size. The bottle opening is 3/4 inch. So, this is not an issue. But, natural corks are sold in different diameters:

Which of these diameters you choose depend on two thing: 1) Whether or not you have a wine bottle corker to insert the corks, and 2) How quickly you would like the wine to age.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

If you do not have a wine bottle corker, then you will be limited to size #7 corks. Corks larger than this require that they be pressed into the wine bottle. They can not be put in by hand. Another option would be to use T-Corks instead of straight corks. These can be put in by hand as well.

If you would like the wine to age as quick as possible, then you would want to consider size #7 corks. If you would like the wine to keep as long as possible then #10’s may be an options. However, I would recommend staying away from these both these options when buying corks for your wine bottles. Remember, fast aging equals short keeping time. And the size #10’s are so hard to put in, you will need a professional floor-model corker to put them in. They are also hard to take out.

Most wine makers will either use size #8 or #9. This provide a nice balance of aging and shelf-life. It is also important to not that the standard size for the commercial wine industry is the size #9. All synthetic corks are size #9.

Buying corks for wine bottles doesn’t have to be stressful, and knowing what source material you’d like and the type of wine bottle you’ll be using will help you tremendously in narrowing down which you should ultimately purchase. You may want to take a look at another blog post, “Getting The Wine In The Bottle…“. It carries this subject a little further.
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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 Tips For Losing Less Wine When Siphoning

Carboy of WineI generally wait until the stuff has settled out of the wine, and then I very slowly siphon my wine. I have set my wine outside when it is below 0 degrees and that clarifies it. I know there is a chemical I can use but I don’t like doing that. My biggest problem is the waste that occurs when I siphon. Is there a filtering method to save this wine? Thanks!

Name: Roger M.
State: WI
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Hello Roger,

Thanks for asking such a question about racking your homemade wine. Losing too much wine when racking is something that is concerning to many home winemakers.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to decrease the amount of wine you lose when racking (siphoning) your wine. These are simple little techniques that will allow you lose less wine. I’ll go over them one-by-one:

 

  1. Use An Actual Wine Yeast
    By using a wine yeast verses baker’s yeast, you will be able to get more wine with less sediment. Wine yeast is bred to pack more firmly to the bottom of the fermenter. This creates a sharper line between the wine and the sediment. This makes it easier for you to get all the wine.
  1. Tilt The Fermenter
    By tilting the fermenter towards the end of the siphoning you can cause the wine to roll off the yeast, into the corner, giving you a deeper area to siphon from. This is very helpful. Again, an actual wine yeast will help in this regard. If the yeast doesn’t pack firmly, this method is not nearly as effective.
  1. Save The Murky Stuff
    If you are in a situation where there is a lot of cloudy wine towards the bottom, save it in a separate container, like gallon jugs. Give it more time to clear up on its own. Then siphon off the sediment.
  1. Rack (Siphon) The Wine More Than Once
    Rack the wine right after the fermentation has completed. Wait a few weeks and then rack the wine again, right before bottling. And here’s the secret part. When you do the first racking, get as much of the wine as you can, even it if comes with some sediment. But when you get to the final racking, before bottling, do whatever it takes to leave all the sediment behind. What you will find by doing this is that you will have very little sediment at the last wine racking, maybe a dusting, causing you to loose hardly any wine at all.

Shop Bentonite

 

Additional Thoughts:
You mentioned that you did not want to add chemicals to your wine, but I would ask you to consider adding bentonite to your wine to help clear it out faster and pack more firmly on the bottom. Bentonite is a natural clay that attracts particles such as the wine yeast and fruit fiber, and drags it to the bottom. We sell it in a food-grade form. It does not permanently mix with the wine and does not affect the wine in any way other than to clear it. The bentonite settles out and is left behind, just like the particles. This will help you quite a bit.

I hope these tips on racking your wine helps you out. Another blog post that you might want to take a peek at is How Do I Get The Wine From The Sediment? This blog post may give you some clearer ideas on racking your wine.

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.

Did Using Distilled Water In My Wine Ruin It?

Distilled WaterI just started my first batch of home made wine. I didn’t use my tap water because it’s salt water from water softener. I used distilled water in this wine, instead. After coming to your site I found out that it’s not good to use distilled water in wine making. Is there anything I can do to save my homemade wine? Or would I be better of starting over?

Name: Rory
State: Michigan
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Hello Rory,

Let me start off by saying that using distilled water in a wine does not mean the wine is ruined. We do not recommend using distilled water because it may cause problems with the fermentation.

Distilled water is water that has been ran through a still, or rather, steamed from one vessel to the next. This process drives out all the free oxygen and leaves the trace minerals behind. This is significant to a fermentation.

The one thing that wine yeast needs is oxygen, particularly in the first stages of the fermentation. Oxygen is what helps wine yeast to multiply into a larger colony. Without a larger colony, you will have a sluggish, drawn-out fermentation.

The little packet of wine yeast that is typically added to a fermentation needs to multiply itself between 100 to 150 times to sustain a vigorous fermentation. Most of the sediment you will see at the bottom of the fermenter are all these yeast cells that were created during the fermentation.Shop Yeast Nutrients

If you’ve used distilled water in your wine, we recommend adding yeast nutrient, if you haven’t done so already. Yeast nutrient is a singular form of nitrogen – diammonium phosphate. The recommended dosage for this is 1 teaspoon per gallon of wine. This yeast nutrient will work in place of free oxygen to help start the wine yeast to multiply successfully.

In rare and extreme cases, it may also be necessary for you to aerate the wine. This can be done by splashing the wine to allow air to saturate into the wine must, or you can siphon the wine must from one vessel to the next, holding the siphon hose back so the the wine splashes.

Minerals make up part of the nutritional meal that wine yeast need to ferment sugar into alcohol. Minerals are needed for yeast to metabolize these sugars freely. Without minerals, wine yeast have a difficult time consuming the sugar that is right in front of them. For this reason, if you use distilled water in your wine making we recommend adding a little magnesium sulfate to your wine — 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons is more than enough.Shop Magnesium Sulfate

I would like to mention again that using distilled water in your wine making does not mean you have ruined your wine, but what it does mean is that you need to take some simple actions to mitigate the effects of the distilled water. By adding yeast nutrient and magnesium sulfate you can go on to have a great tasting wine.

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 Grape Juice Quality the Key to Making Great Wine?

California Connoisseur With White WineThe art and science of winemaking has been around for millennia, though certainly the techniques and procedures have evolved throughout the course of winemaking history.  It takes a lot of time, practice, and patience to become an expert winemaker, and even then, a bad batch can come along despite all your best intentions and efforts.  With all that being said, one thing has always remained true over time:

“It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at making wine, if you don’t have quality grape juice, you are not going to make quality wine.”

How do you get quality grape juice for winemaking?  Well, there are several different sources, all of which can result in quality wine if you are careful and follow the instructions.

The first source for grape juice for winemaking is to simply buy a grape juice concentrate. There is an extremely wide selection of grapes varieties to choose from when shopping for a grape juice concentrate.  Some of the concentrate on the market are produced by using low-quality grapes. These are fine for drinking sweet, but not so much for making wine, so it is important to do some research into the overall quality of the grapes used to create the grape juice concentrate. There are a lot of products out there utilizing known vineyards and quality grapes, so do your research!

The next source for grape juice for winemaking is freshly pressed juice.  This may be a more expensive option, as you will need to work directly with a vineyard, which may or may not be charging higher prices than the easy-to-get grape juice concentrate.  Keep in mind that when purchasing freshly pressed grape juice for winemaking, you will only be able to attain the juice at a particular time during the year, and you will be bound to the grape variety that is being grown by that particular vineyard.  Grape juice concentrates stay perfectly fresh in the packaging for years.

Another source of grape juice for winemaking is to grow the grapes and press them yourself!  This, of course, is the most labor intensive and most expensive method, however, it can be very rewarding, particularly if you have a “green thumb” and would like to be a part of the entire winemaking process from vine-to-wine, as they say.  Similar to getting fresh grape juice from a vineyard, you will only be able to get the juice at a certain time of the year (harvest) and only the same variety year after year.

There are many sources for attaining winemaking juice: grape juice concentrate, local vineyard, or you own backyard. Any of these sources are fine. Just be certain you are getting quality juice from quality sources, otherwise you can end up with bad wine before you’ve even begun making it!

Another blog post that discusses the virtues of grape juice concentrate and fresh grapes is, Concentrate vs. Grapes.
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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.

Keeping Track Of Your Homemade Wines Without Wine Bottle Labels

Keeping Track Of Homemade WinesI would like to track my wine bottles without using wine bottle labels which can be difficult to remove for my next batch of wine. Is there an easy way to mark my bottles that can be removed the next time I use them?

Name: Curtis B.
State: CO
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Hello Curtis,

There are several ways you could go about tacking your homemade wines without using wine bottle labels. Most home winemakers will use a color code. Each batch of wine will be assigned a color. Then that color is used on the wine bottle.

The simplest way to get the color on the wine bottle is to use different colored heat-shrink neck capsules. We have nine different colors, which is enough for most home winemakers. These neck capsules are a PVC plastic that will shrink to the neck of the wine bottle when heated. They also help seal the bottle more tightly.

We also have assorted colors of sealing wax. You can do the same with them. Just heat the wax up in an old tin can. Then dip the neck of the wine bottle into the molten wax. Instead of dipping the wine bottles, you can inset the wine cork about an 1/8″ into the neck of the bottle and pour the colored wax in the inset to form a colored disk over the cork.

In either case, keeping track of your homemade wines is just a matter of keeping your colors straight. You can do this with a color chart or “legend” that keeps track of what batch of wine each color represents. You can put it on the wall near your wine rack and problem solved.

If you don’t like using colors to track your batches of homemade wine, you can use wine bottle ID tags. These can be picked up at any commercial wine shop. This is basically a tag that has some writing space and a hole big enough for the neck of the wine bottle to fit through. Write on the tag what the wine is, and hang it over the neck of the wine bottle.Shop Heat Shrink Capsules

The down fall with the ID tags is that you have to write on each one. With a typical batch of wine being 25 or 30 bottles, this can become cumbersome. The second issue is that they do not secure to the wine bottles. Shut a door to fast or blow across the wine rack with the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner and your tagging could be all blown off the bottles. And this doesn’t even take into consideration what little kids could do if they got a hold of them.

I hope this gave you some ideas for keeping track of your homemade wines. With a little imagination, I’m sure there’s other ways to track them without using wine bottle labels, but these are the best ways I have discovered.

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.

4 Reasons For Having A Cloudy Wine…

Drop of WineI have made this wine several times — has always turned out very well. However, this time (same recipe), the wine’s not clearing. I have changed the carboy 3 times since early November, still not clearing. (Did the flashlight test). The temperature in the room stays perfect for it — just don’t understand it… It smells wonderful! Any advice, would be greatly appreciated!

Name: Laura
State: MN
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Hello Laura,

Sorry you’re having such a stubborn time with a cloudy wine, but don’t give up on it just yet. Having a cloudy wine is usually not a catastrophic event, but more like to be just an annoyance with a solution.

But before we can solve the problem we have to identify the problem. The cloudiness is only a symptom. We need to know why the wine is still cloudy? Until we have the answer to that we don’t know what action to take.

 

  1. Your wine may still be fermenting.
    The first thing to look at is the specific gravity of the wine. This will tell us how much sugar is still left in the wine, if any. This is easily checked with a wine hydrometer. If the specific gravity indicates that there is still sugar in the wine, then the probable reason you have a cloudy wine is because your wine is still fermenting very slowly, but enough to keep things stirred up.It is important to note that the slightest amount of fermentation can cause a lot of cloudiness in a wine, so do not rule this reason out just because you have not seen any bubbles come out of the air-lock. If the hydrometer indicates that the fermentation has not completed, then this is most likely the reason you have a cloudy wine. The only way to solve this problem is to get the fermentation to complete… to make sure the wine yeast are happy and provided with the environment needed to finish the job. One article that you might want to take a look at is, “The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure“. You can go over these reasons and see if any of them ring true to your situation.
    Shop Hydrometers
  1. Your wine may have a pectin haze.
    This could be particularly true if your wine recipe does not call for a pectic enzyme to break down the pectin cells in the fruit. While the fermentation activity itself will quite often break down the pectin, there are many times it will not. This is why it is usually advisable to add pectic enzyme to any fruit wine recipe — whether it calls for it or not. There is no downside to doing so.One way to test for a pectin haze is to take a 4 ounce sample of the wine in question and add ¼ teaspoon of pectic enzyme to it. Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours or until  the wine has become clear. If the wine does not clear then you do not have a pectin haze. If the wine does clear, then pectin haze is why you have a cloudy wine.The only thing you can do to the wine at this point would be to add a double-dose of pectic enzyme to the entire batch of wine (use the dosage listed on the container it came in). Then give it several weeks time, if not months, to clear. Patience is crucial in the particular instance.
  1. Tannin falling out of the wine.
    Tannin is the bitter zest found mostly in the skin of a fruit. Any wine can only hold so much tannin before it will start to release it as a precipitate. One way to test for this is to heat a pint sample of the wine in a sauce pan and see if it clears. If it does then tannin is the issue. You can find more information on our website on the subject. You might want to look over the article: “Maintaining Temperature Stability In Your Wines“.
  1. Your wine has a bacterial infection.
    If you added sulfites such as Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite before and after the fermentation, this is not likely to be your problem. But if you didn’t, then there is a likelihood that a bacterial infection of sorts is the reason why you have a cloudy wine.Shop Campden TabletsYou mentioned that the wine smelled great, so I doubt that this is your problem. Wines with this type of fault will smell bad before they taste bad. A simple way to test for this is to smell the wine. If you notice a fingernail polish type smell or an odor of sauerkraut, then this is likely to be what’s going on.A bacterial infection has taken over the wine.Of all the the reasons for having a cloudy wine, this is the worst one. An uncontrolled bacterial infection means the wine is un-salvageable and that you should cut your losses and dispose of the wine. Hopefully, this is not the case.

 

Another blog post that may help you with your cloudy wine is “Clearing A Cloudy Wine…“. This is about another fellow winemaker with similar problems to what your are describing.

Hope this information helped you out. Best wishes and 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.

Raising the Specific Gravity of a Wine With Sugar Syrup

Sugar syrup for raising specific gravityI have a question! After making a sugar-syrup, how much of it do I use to raise 5 gallons of wine? I mean how much does the S.G. [Specific Gravity, hydrometer reading] go up say per cup added? Thanks for any help.

Name: Thomas R.
State: New York (Long Island)
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Hello Thomas,

Raising the specific gravity of a wine with sugar syrup is perfectly fine. It’s a great way to get the S.G. up to where you need it to be when making a fruit wine or even a grape wine the just needs a little boost.

Knowing how much sugar syrup add to the wine to get from point A to point B on a hydrometer scale would be great to know ahead of time, but to do this you need to know the specific gravity of the sugar syrup. Not a sugar syrups are the same.

You can use a wine hydrometer to determine the specific gravity of the sugar syrup you’ve made. Just put the hydrometer in a sample of the syrup, just like you would when testing your wine. If the reading goes off the scale, you can still get a reading. Just add an equal amounts of water and sugar syrup in a sample. Then take a gravity reading and times it by two.

As an example, let’s say after you added equal parts of water and sugar syrup, you get a reading of 1.150. That would mean that the sugar syrup’s “actual” S.G. is 1.300. You double the “gravity” part of your reading, because you cut the sugar syrup by half.Shop Hydrometers

Once you know the S.G. of the sugar syrup, raising the specific gravity of your wine with sugar syrup is easy. It’s all just math.

Let’s say you want to add 6 ounce of sugar syrup that has an specific gravity of 1.300 to a gallon of wine:

A gallon of wine has 128 fluid ounces in it. You want to add 6 more fluid ounces of sugar syrup for a new total of 134 ounces. Now you need to spread the gravity of (300 times 6) over the 134 ounces (128 + 6). So it is (300 X 6) divided by 134. That equals 13.44. Let me shorten it up:

(Gravity of Syrup * Ounces of Syrup Per Gallon)/(128 + Ounces of Syrup Per Gallon) = Rise in S.G.
or
(300 * 6)/(128 + 6) = 13.44

What this means is that if you are raising the specific gravity of a wine with a sugar syrup that has a specific gravity reading of 1.300, and you add 6 fluid ounces of that syrup to each gallon of homemade wine, then the specific gravity of that homemade wine would be raised by 13.44 points on the gravity scale. For example, if the wine has a specific gravity of 1.060, the new reading would be 1.07344. You could round it to 1.073.Shop Conical Fermenter

Hope this helps you out. Just plug the numbers into the equation as needed and you’ll know ahead the results with raising the specific gravity of a wine with sugar syrup.

There is also another blog post that is somewhat related to this subject that I’d thought you might be interested in: “Controlling Your Wine’s Alcohol“.

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.

Can You Age Wine In A Refrigerator?

We purchased a refrigerator to store our wine in, but the temp. is 47 degrees.  We cannot get the refrigerator to go any higher… Is that too cold to age wine?

Darlene
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Hello Darlene,

Thank you for this great question.

You are correct in assuming that temperature does make a difference when aging wine. But having said this, most home winemakers store their wine at room temperature or basement temperature and do perfectly fine. But if you want to try aging your wine in a refrigerator, it is possible under certain situations.

Temperature affects a wine by changing how fast or slow it ages. The cooler the temperature, the slower it will age. The warmer the temperature, the faster it will age.

Aging is critical to a wine. It is the time when a series of enzymatic activities occur that cause a wine to become more pleasant. It will have better body structure, a fruitier bouquet, and more complex, layered flavors. So you’d think that you would want your wine to age faster so that it could taste better sooner, but this is really not the case. While wine does get better with age, there is also a life-cycle that needs to be consider.

A wine will typically improve for a period of time, then somewhat plateau in its improvement. Eventually, there will come a time when the wine will start to degrade in quality at a very, very slow pace. It will start to become flabby, lifeless, then eventually, unacceptable to drink. So while warmer temperature will cause the wine to become better sooner, it will also shorten its lifespan.

A wine may plateau in quality in 6 months. Other wines might take 6 years. A lot of this has to do with the wine itself, and of course, the temperature at which it is being stored. Its body, flavor and structure all play a role in determining how long a life-cycle the wine will have.

Just how high a wine will plateau in quality is up to the wine, but how fast and long it stays at this plateau is up to the keeper of the wine and the temperature they decide at which to store the wine.

Buy Temp ControllerAll of the above applies equally to commercially made and homemade wines. Most wine experts agree that 55°F. is a good temperature to stay with when aging wine for the long hall. This means that aging your wine in a refrigerator may not be practical for you, but it would not be a disaster to do so. It just may take longer than what is practical for the wine to age.

One way to ultimately resolve this issue is to purchase a power-interrupt thermostat. This is an item that is put in between the refrigerator plug and the wall outlet. It has a probe that goes inside the refrigerator to monitor temperature. Once the refrigerator temperature reaches the setting on the thermostat it will interrupt the power. I would almost call this a necessity for anyone who is planning on aging wine in a refrigerator.

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.