Should I Be Adding Sulfites Before Bottling?

Bottling Wine With SulfitesI made an apple cider and a apple/blueberry cider. Both are in the aging process  (4 months before bottling). I have the apple cider in a 5 gal. oak keg and the blueberry on in a 5 gal. carboy. Should I be adding sulfites before bottling the wine?

Name: Mike in NY
State: NY
Hello Mike,

If you are aging your wine in bulk, such as a carboy or oak wine barrel, we recommend treating the wine with potassium metabisulfite before the aging. So hopefully you’ve already treated it with some form of sulfite. This is to keep oxidation and spoilage down while in the bulk aging vessel.

Regardless if you have or not, we also recommend adding sulfites before bottling. This dose is to keep the oxidation and spoilage down while the wine is in the wine bottle. Sulfites want to leave as SO2 gas over time and during rackings, so it does need to be replenished at various stages. Here is more information about when to add sulfites to a wine.

Also at bottling time, you may also want to add potassium sorbate. This will also help to stop any type of organism from multiplying and spoiling your cider. Potassium sorbate is mandatory if you plan or sweetening back your cider before bottling, or there are still sugars in the wine leftover from the fermentation. Not adding it in these situations could result in a re-fermentation in the wine bottle. This would lead to either popping wine corks, or worse yet, exploding wine bottles.Shop Potassium Metabisulfite

Since your are making apple wine/cider I will also mention this: we also recommend adding ascorbic acid to help battle the oxidation issue when using apple juice. Apple juice/wine likes to turn brown very easy. Ascorbic acid will help to slow down the process and keep your cider looking pretty. The optimal time to add this is right before fermentation, but right now is better than never.

If you’d like to read a little more on this subject, you may want to take a look at Adding Campden Tablets To Homemade Wine. This is another post on this blog.

Adding sulfites before bottling is arguably the most import addition. It is the last time you will be able to do anything directly to the wine to keep it, so don’t skip it.shop_potassium_sorbate

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.

How Many Cans Of Fruit Wine Base Should I Use In My Wine Recipe?

Fruit Wine Base For Wine MakingI would like to buy a kit, but would prefer to make a fruit wine.  So I’m planning on buying the Your Fruit! Wine Making Kit and then buying the County Fair Fruit Wine Base.  I’m confused about the number of cans (46 oz) I need or want… the catalog suggests using 2-4 cans.  So I guess my question is:  What changes when you add more fruit wine base?

Thank you very much for your time. I’m really exited to start making wine!

– Holly
Hello Holly,

Thank you for this much needed blog question about fruit wine bases.

The primary difference you will notice between using two cans of County Fair Fruit Wine Base in your wine recipes and four cans is the body. The more cans you use, the more body the wine will have. If you don’t know what body means, it can best be described as the mouth-feel of the wine – the viscosity of the wine. Another way to look at it is to think of the difference between whole milk and skim milk.

There are other secondary differences as well. When using less cans in your wine recipes you get a more crisp, refreshing wine. When you use more cans you get a more robust, assertive wine. A crisp wine is more refreshing or thirst quenching. Some might call it a summer wine. A robust wine might be something you would drink with dinner. With a robust wine the flavors tend to linger on the palate longer, competing very well with the flavors of the meal.

Shop Fruit Wine BasesSomething else that should be pointed out is that wines made with two cans of fruit wine base will age out more quickly than wines made with four cans of the fruit wine base. A two can wine recipe might peak in 4 or 5 months, whereas a four can wine recipe might peak around a year. This is all very subjective, so each persons impression of these wines might vary, but on average this is true.

I hope this answers your questions. It’s a matter of style and the type of wine you like to drink. Many people assume that four cans of the County Fair fruit wine base will taste twice as good as two in their wine recipes, but this is not necessarily true. It will have the characters described earlier, but whether or not it makes it better is a matter of personal tastes.

Happy Wine Making,
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.

Why Do Some Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme?

Fermentation Using Pectic EnzymeThis is Greg again with another question.  I have been making wine with your concentrated homemade wine kits for several years and have had a lot of fun for sure.  I would like to make apple wine…  saw the apple recipe you have on your website.  It looks a lot like making wine from concentrate.  The only thing I do not understand is the pectic enzyme. What is the purpose of adding pectic enzyme to a wine?

Dear Greg,

Pectic enzyme is called for in almost all wine recipes that use fresh fruit. The recipes you see in books like The First Steps In Wine Making and the wine recipes on our website will all call for pectic enzymes. However, you do not need to add it to wines made from concentrated homemade wine kits, like the ones you have been making wine with. This is because the necessary pectic enzyme has already been added to the concentrate by the wine kit producer.

The purpose of using pectic enzyme in wine making is twofold:

  • First and foremost, pectic enzyme helps to break down the fruit’s fiber or pulp. This allows more flavor and color to be extracted from whatever fruit is being used during the fermentation.
  • Shop Pectic EnzymeSecondly, it helps to make sure the wine has a clearer, more translucent, appearance after the fermentation has completed and the wine has had ample time to clear up.

Pectic enzyme accomplishes both of these tasks by breaking down the pectin cells in the fruit. Pectin is the gelatinous material that holds together the strands of fiber found within fruits such as strawberry or grape. It is also the “stuff” that makes apple sauce thick and cloudy.

By breaking down these pectin cells, the fruit’s pulp becomes less thick. This allows more of the fruit’s character to be released during fermentation or even when running the pulp through the grape presses. Because pectin is somewhat opaque, if it isn’t sufficiently broken down during the fermentation, the resulting wine will have a pectin haze. For the most part, this type of defect is not correctable once the fermentation is complete.

When making wine from concentrated homemade wine kits, the flavor and color extraction has already been taken care of for you. No pulp is involved and Pectic enzyme is not necessary. It’s one more variable that these kits take out of the equation so that you can be a successful home wine maker.

shop_wine_pressSo as you can start to see there is a reason for adding pectic enzyme to a wine. Pectic enzyme has a purpose. It helps to extract more color and flavor from the fruit, and it helps to insure that the resulting wine is clear.

Happy Wine Making,
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.

7 Wine Making Ingredients You Should Have On Hand!

Assorted Wine Making FruitsMay is here; Spring has sprung; and Summer is on its way. Time to stock up on your basic wine making ingredients.

It looks like it’s going to be a great year for fruits in most regions of our nation. It won’t be long before a cornucopia of fruit will be in season and ready for your wine making pleasure: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon…

By stocking up on just a few, key wine making ingredients you’ll be ready for any type of fruit that may end up coming your way. You won’t need each ingredient in every recipe, but you’ll need most of them in all recipes.

Except for the wine yeast, just get one container of each. With the yeast you’ll want to have a variety of three or four different types to have on hand. Stock these wine making ingredients, and you’ll be ready for anything:

  • Yeast Nutrient – Just like it sounds, this wine making ingredient is nutrient for the yeast. It helps to invigorate the wine yeast and get it fermenting more quickly.
  • Yeast Energizer – A combination of Yeast Nutrient, vitamins and proteins. It is used for wines that lack the types of nutrients the wine yeast expect: Dandelion, honey, rose hips, etc.
  • Pectic Enzyme – Aids in pulling flavor from the fruit. It breaks down the fruits fiber so that more flavor will release. It also aid in the clearing of the wine.
  • Acid Blend – Brings the fruit acids up to a flavorful level. Any wine recipe that calls for water will need this wine making ingredient to bring the wine’s acidity up to a proper level.
  • Wine Tannin – Adds zests to the wine. It is the peel flavor of the fruit. Wine tannin also helps the wine clear and age properly.
  • Wine Yeast – This wine making ingredient is what actually turns the sugar into alcohol. There are several different types for various wines. I would recommend, at minimum, having some of the Red Star Montrachet and Pasture Blanc on hand.Shop Wine Making Kits
  • Campden Tablets – This is used to sanitize the juice and equipment. The tablets are crushed up and added to water to product a sanitizing solution that is safe and can be added directly to the wine to destroy any wild mold or bacteria.

You may also want to get Potassium Sorbate a.k.a. Wine Stabilizer. This is added to a wine if you decide you want to back sweeten it up before bottling. It keeps the residual wine yeast from fermenting the new sugars while in the bottle.

Recipes and Directions…
We have several wine recipes on our website for the more common fruits that utilize these wine making ingredients. We also have easy to follow wine making directions that are listed there as well. They will help you to stay on the right path.
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.

Using Artificial Sweeteners To Sweeten Wine

Artificial Sweeteners To Sweeten WineI am a diabetic, but my doctor has suggested 2 glasses of wine a night. Can I use artificial sweeteners to sweeten my wines after the fermentation has stopped? Will it affect the aging after bottling?

Name: Frank
State: TX
Hello Frank,

There is nothing that suggest that artificial sweeteners affect the aging process, or aging-chemistry, of a wine. So from this perspective it is fine to add artificial sweeteners to sweeten wine at bottling time. But there are some other factors that come into play, depending on what kind of artificial sweetener you are planing on using to sweeten your homemade wine.

Not all artificial sweeteners are the same:

  • Sweet’n Low™: the main ingredient is saccharin. Saccharin will artificially sweeten your wine, but it will not permanently mix with the wine. If given enough time, such as when aging, the saccharin will drop to the bottom. When commercial products, such as Tab used saccharin as a sweetener, they also added a binder to keep it suspended. Us home winemakers do not have this luxury available to us.
  • Equal™: the main ingredient is aspartame. This artificial sweetener will sweeten wine as well as it will sweeten coffee or tea. It does have an Achille’s heel, however it does not stay stable for longer periods of time. Once in a liquid, it will slowly start to lose its sweetening effect. This is why sodas sweetened with aspartame will sometimes taste bitter if they are too old or stored in the heat. While you can store your wine in extremely cool places to slow down the lose of sweetness, this extremely cool temperature will also slow down the natural aging process of the wine. A more minor consideration is that Equal™ also contains a small amount of dextrose (corn sugar) and maltodextrin. Both of these ingredients can cause a very small fermentation with in the wine bottle. Not enough to be a direct problem, but possibly enough the give the wine a detectable amount of effervescence. For this reason, if you do decide to use Equal™ to sweeten your wine, I would also recommend adding potassium sorbate to eliminate any re-fermentation within the wine bottle.Shop Potassium Sorbate
  • NutraSweet™: again the main ingredient is aspartame so you have the same stability issues as with Equal™, but NutraSweet™ also as a second artificial sweetener, neotame. This artificial sweetener is a little more stable than aspartame, so between the two, NutraSweet™ would be your best artificial sweetener to sweeten wine. It would stay sweeter longer in your wines.
  • Splenda™: the main ingredient is sucralose. Sucralose is a molecularly modified form of sugar. The sugar is altered in a way that makes it very hard for the body to metabolize. It’s main strength is that it is stable. If used in your wine, it will always remain just as sweet as the day you added it. It binds with the wine, so you don’t need to worry about it separating out such as with saccharin.The main downfall is that, if given enough time, the enzymes that are left over from your wine’s fermentation can break down some of the sucralose into a simple sugar. If there are still residual yeast cells in the wine, you could have a slight fermentation in the wine bottle because of this. Also, like other artificial sweeteners, Splenda™ has dextrose and maltodextrin added as bulking agents to keep if fluffy. Just like with Equal™, these can also contribute to the possibility of fermentation in the bottle, so again potassium sorbate is recommend to keep the wine stable.
  • Stevia: This is a natural ingredient derived from a plant. There are some winemakers that are claiming great success with sweetening their wine with this product. I do not know how stable it is, but I’ve heard no complaints with losing sweetness over time, nor have I heard complaints of re-fermentation in the wine bottle. Having said this, price seems to be a major issue. There are many brands that offer this product in varying forms. Some cut with sugar; some cut with maltodextrin. You want to get the stevia as pure as you can — at least 95%. Currently, brands that offer this form of stevia are commanding prices in the range of $0.80 to $1.00 per ounce. Depending on how much stevia you need to use to sweeten your wine, this could be cost prohibitive.

The best advice I can give you is to go ahead and use any artificial sweetener to sweeten wine you like, but don’t add it until you are ready to drink the wine. The effects on the wine are identical and you don’t have to worry about all the potential problems these artificial sweeteners can bring. If you have your heart set on sweetening the wine at bottling time, then I might consider stevia as a trial. Take a portion of the wine off, say a gallon, and sweeten that to see how you like it.

Thanks for the great question, Frank. Hope everything works out for you.

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.

5 Things You Should Know About Acid Blend

Acid Blend For Wine MakingAcid Blend is a granulated blend of the three most commonly found fruit acids: citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It is added directly to a wine or must to raise its acidity level when necessary. The acidity of a wine is the tart or sharp taste. Wines too low in acid are flat or flabby tasting. Wines too high in acid are tart or sharp tasting.

Here are 5 helpful things you should know about Acid Blend.

  1. Always Know How Much Acid Blend To Add:
    Never guess at how much Acid Blend you should be using. Either have a wine recipe that tells you how much Acid Blend to add, or use and Acid Testing Kit to determine how much Acid Blend is needed to bring the wine into a respectable range.
  1. One Teaspoon Of Acid Blend Will Raise One Gallon By .15%:
    An Acid Testing Kit will measure acidity in terms of percentage by weight. With most wines you will want an acidity level in the .55% to .70% range. Once you know your wine’s current acidity level, you can use the .15%, per teaspoon, per gallon, rule to know how much Acid Blend you need to add.
  1. Acid Blend Is Easy To Add But Very Difficult To Take Out:
    If there is ever any question as to how much Acid Blend you should be adding, always error to the low side. You can easily add more later. It’s effects are instant. But if you add too much, the process for getting it out is, quite frankly, a big pain.
  1. The Acid Level Of A Wine Can Change During A Fermentation:
    It’s not unusual for some acid to drop out of the wine during a fermentation. Conversely, the fermentation can make acid to replace what is lost. Shop Acid Test KitWith these two things in mind it is possible for the acidity level to slightly rise or fall during a fermentation. For this reason you may need to do a second adjustment to the wine just before bottling.
  1. Wine Ingredient Kits Do Not Call For Acid Blend At All:
    If you are using wine making juices in the form of box ingredient kits to make your wine, you do not need to add Acid Blend to your wine. You do not need to worry about taking acid level readings. This is because the producers of these kits have already tested and adjusted the acidity level for you. They have it corrected perfectly for the type of wine you are making.

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.

Making Wine Without Sulfites

A Wine Made Without SulfitesI have a sister who has a serious bronchial reaction to drinking wine made with sulfite. I have a neighbor who’s making wine without sulfites to kill the yeast at the end. He simply waits until it dies of starvation. My sister has no reaction to his wine. I have discovered that boiling the must before starting the yeast without using sulfite is sufficient to start the process. Now I would like to find a method of killing the yeast when I want to stop the process. I thought perhaps I could use a high temperature to kill the yeast at the end, but I don’t know how high that temperature would have to be. Can you help me?

Name: Frits D.
State: Arkansas
Hello Frits,

There seems to be a little bit of confusion. The reason that sulfites are added to any wine after the fermentation is to keep the wine from spoiling – to keep it fresh – not stop a fermentation. A fermentation should run its course until the sugars are all gone, starvation as you say. Sulfites can slow a domesticated wine yeast, but it can not consistently stop it completely, and therefor is not dependable for this purpose.

With that being said, making wine without sulfites is simple. The hard part is keeping the wine from degrading or spoiling after it has been made.

To start off the fermentation, I do not recommend boiling the juice or wine must. When you heat a juice you are promoting oxidation. This can cause the wine to turn color, usually orange or brown. It can also affect the wine’s flavor by adding a caramel to raisin note to it.

The one time I think you should add sulfites is before the fermentation — even if you are making wine without sulfites. Any free sulfite that is in the wine at this point will be long gone by the time the fermentation has completed. The sulfite will readily dissipate as a gas. Why not take advantage of that fact?Shop Wine Kits

This applies to making wine from fresh fruits and juices. If you are making wine from a juice concentrate, then no treatment or sulfite is required at all. For this reason, you may want to consider taking this avenue. Currently, we have over 200 different juice concentrates to choose from.

As for keeping the wine from spoiling after the fermentation, one solution is to always keep the wine refrigerated. It’s simple and effective. The bad part is you need to dedicate most, or all, of a refrigerator to this method. This is one reason why hardly anyone is making wine without sulfites.

A second option that will significantly reduce the risk of spoilage is filtering the wine with ultra-fine filtration. This mean filtering down to 0.5 microns. This is a lot finer than letting the wine drip through a coffee filter. That would only be 20 to 25 microns. Filtering down to 0.5 microns requires the use of an actual wine filter, one that can force the wine under pressure through extremely fine pads. You are literally filtering out over 99% of the wine yeast along with mold spores and bacteria.

The MiniJet wine filter would be the way to go for this purpose. It is important to realize that before using any wine filter, the wine should be finished dropping out sediment, naturally. It should look visually clear before filtering.

Shop Mini Jet Wine FilterAlso, keep in mind that you will want to be vigilant towards keeping the winemaking area sanitary. All the equipment and anything else that comes into contact with the wine needs to be as clean and sterile as possible. There are a whole host of cleansers and sanitizers you can use to do this safely. This is a critical part to making wine without sulfites.

As a final note, there is no such thing as making a wine without any sulfites at all. In part, because sulfite is actually produced during the fermentation. It’s a natural byproduct of the fermentation. The best you can do is to keep the sulfites to a level low. You can expect to see a fermentation produce a wine with 10 to 15 PPM (parts-per-million). When adding sulfites as normally directed the wine will end up with 50 to 75 PPM.

As you can see, making wine wine without sulfites can be easily done. It’s the extra care that needs to be taken to keep the wine fresh and free from spoilage that makes it difficult. But, if you are willing to be sanitary, filter the wine and/or store the wine under refrigeration… it can be done!

I hope this information helps you out.

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.

How To Sweeten Wine With Honey

Honey For Sweeten WineI’m getting ready to bottle a 12-gallon batch of California Connoisseur Pinot Noir. As always, everything went off without a hitch. I like my wine semi-dry, and would like to try sweetening with commercial store-bought honey this time, following the same Metabisulfite and Potassium Sorbate protocols for sugar. Any cautionary words of wisdom?

Name: Putnam J.
State: New York
Hello Putnam,

I see that you’re up for a little adventure. You are correct in your assumption that potassium sorbate, potassium metabisulfite will need to be added to the wine kit at bottling time along with the honey. It’s no different than sweetening the wine with cane sugar or any other sugar that potentially provides food to the wine yeast.

All I can really say about sweetening a wine with honey is that you should take your time. Be sure-footed in what you do. You can always add more honey later to the wine, but taking it out is not an option. This is true for almost anything you add to a wine to adjust flavor.

For the most part, honey will sweeten the wine just as well as cane sugar. The sweet part is mostly the same. It’s the additional character that honey brings along with the sweet that makes it more adventurous. Depending on what the bees spun the honey off of — wildflowers, cherry blossoms, buckwheat, etc. — Shop Potassium Metabisulfitethe subtle notes and aromas added can vary from herbal, to fruity, to citrus. You may like it and consider it an improvement on the wine, but you may also decide you can’t stand it. Don’t assume that the honey will make the wine better. Try it out on a sample and see.

Bench testing is the best way I know to sweeten a wine with honey. Take a measured sample of the wine, like a gallon or half-gallon, and start adding measured doses of the honey. Taste the wine between additions and see what you think. If you’re not sure, stop and come back to it another day.

If you decide that you don’t like what the honey’s done to the wine, switch back to cane sugar or something else. If you like the honey, but have added too much, blend the sample back in with the rest of the wine. Collect a new measured sample and start all over.

Once you establish a dosage, apply that dosage to the rest of the wine. This is the safest way I know to sweeten a wine with honey.

shop_potassium_sorbateTake your time. Sweetness is a major component of a wine’s flavor profile. For example, when I think I know what I want to do, I like to wait and come back later that day, or even the next day, and taste the wine again before moving forward.

Putnam, I hope this was the type of information you was looking for. It’s fun to play around with a wine, but it can also be a little nerve-racking at times. Hopefully, these little tips and insights on how to sweeten a wine with honey will keep you on a good path with your wine.

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.

What About Using Corn Sugar In Your Wine?

Cane Sugar For Wine Making… I was looking for different ways to sweeten my wine and came across this corn sugar in your beer section of your catalog. I read that some use corn sugar in their beer instead of cane sugar. The article said it would give the beer a crisper taste. How do you think this would affect the wine? Is it possible that I could use corn sugar in my wine making?

Name: Patrick Davis
State: GA
Hello Patrick,

It is true that most beermakers will never add regular cane sugar to their beers. Cane sugar will give a cidery, winey taste to the brews. Instead homebrewers will add corn sugar, which ferments much more cleanly.

In the case of making wine, a “cidery”, “winey” flavor is not really an issue. These flavors actually fit in with the flavor profile of wines in general. The effect is fairly subtle as well. Even though it can become evident in a homebrew, in a homemade wine it hides very nicely. This is even more true with fuller-bodied wines.

There are some that use corn sugar in all their wines, religiously, and some that will only use it in certain situations, But most winemakers elect to never use corn sugar, at all. My personal opinion is that corn sugar can make a difference in some wines, mostly white wines with very little body — for example, a Pinot Grigio or a Riesling. But, the change is not necessarily for the better, it’s just different. And, the change will be very minor.

Some might notice a crisp, “mintiness” coming through in these lighter wines made with corn sugar but only very slightly. If the wine is already known for an herbal, fresh finish it might become more accentuated by the crispness/cleanness of the corn sugar, but beyond that you won’t notice too much, if anything.

So to sum it all up, you can try corn sugar in your wine making, but don’t expect too much difference in the resulting wine, and don’t expect to notice anything at all if you are using corn sugar in a fuller-bodied wine.

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.

Adding Sulfites To Homemade Wine

Sulfites Being Added To Homemade WineSulfites are added to wines to help protect them from spoilage and from the effects of oxidation. This is true for homemade wines as well as professionally made wines. Without sulfites the wine can eventually becomes host to a mold or bacteria growth such a vinegar, or lose its color and freshness.

When adding sulfites to wine we use either Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. Each is essentially the same thing in a different form. These sulfites are simple to add to a wine, but there are some things you should know about using them.

Sulfites Are Funny
In reality sulfites are a little funny in how they react to a wine or wine must. When adding a sulfite to a wine, not all of it wants to stay there. Some of the sulfite wants to leave – escape like as a gas, much like CO2 carbonation wants to escape from a bottle of soda pop. It take time for the free SO2 to leave the wine, but eventually the amount of free sulfite in the wine will be only minor.

The other half of this story is that while a portion of the sulfites leave the wine as a gas, known as free sulfites, there is another portion of the sulfites that want to stay. These are the sulfite molecules that actually bond to the wine and are quite comfortable where they are. This portion is known as bound sulfites.

Here’s The Twist
Even though some of the sulfites stay in the wine, you still need to replenish the wine with additional doses of either Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. This is because the bound sulfites that remain in the wine have no ability to protect it. They do nothing. They are just there.

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteIt is only the free sulfites that have the ability to protect the wine from spoilage in any way, and they’re not hanging around for very long. This is why we recommend adding sulfites to your wine:

  • Before the fermentation
  • After the fermentation
  • Right before bottling

By adding sulfites at these three time you are making up for the free sulfites that have left.

Why Does All This Matter?
It matters because it is possible to add too much sulfites to a wine. Each time you add a dose you are adding more sulfites that will permanently bind with the wine. Add too many doses and your wine may become victim of an overdose. The result is a wine that has a permanent sulfur taste.

Here’s The Good News…
It takes a significant amount of bound sulfites to detectable within the wine’s flavor. If you only add the three doses mentioned earlier, you will never have a problem with flavor – it will be will below the threshold of perception – but start adding extra doses of sulfite to your wine after each racking or while your wine is bulk aging, then your wine’s flavor could start to suffer.

Shop Sulfite TesterIf you are concerned about your wines having enough free sulfite and want to add more sulfite doses than the three mentioned above, then the best thing you can do is to test. This can be done with a simple titration kit. The most popular SO2 tester for the home wine maker is Titrets by Chemetrics. These little test ampules also need a special hand-tool to perform a test.

By taking a small wine sample you can quickly determine how much free sulfite is in your wine. By knowing this you won’t be adding more sulfites than necessary to your homemade wine whether they be bound or free.

Happy Wine Making,
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.