The Virtues Of Adding More Fruit To A Wine Recipe

Bowl Of Wine Making FruitYour blueberry wine recipe on your website states you need 13lbs of blueberries for making 5 gals. Will adding more fruit to this wine recipe add more color and flavor to the finished wine?

Thank-you
Gary C.

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Yes, adding more fruit to any wine recipe is going to intensify the flavor and add more color. But, before you take this bit of information and go running with it, here are some considerations that you may want to think over first.

 

Do You Really Want More Flavor?

Almost all of the wine recipes on our website are shooting for a pleasant, medium-bodied wine. If you follow the amounts called for and follow the homemade wine instructions, you will end up with a wine that everyone can enjoy, wine drinkers and non-wine drinkers alike – a wine perfect for passing out as personal wine making gifts at parties, family gatherings, etc.

If you over-do the intensifying of the flavor by adding more fruit, it has been my experience that non-wine drinkers will not be as appreciative of what you’ve made. The flavors that will come forward will be very foreign and challenging for non-drinkers to like.

 

What About The Fruit Acid?

When you add more fruit to a wine recipe, you are obviously adding more fruit acid as well. A wine’s acidity needs to be in a certain range to have any chance of tasting right. By adding more fruit to a wine recipe, you are potentially taking the wine out of this range. This could lead to your wine tasting either too sharp or tart.

Fortunately, you can overcome this by reducing one of the other wine making products called for in the recipe, Acid Blend. This is a blend of the acids that are naturally found in fruit. In the case of the blueberry wine recipe, it calls for 2 tablespoons of Acid Blend. When adding more blueberries you would reduce this amount to compensate.Shop Acid Test Kit

Now comes the question, “By how much does the Acid Blend need to be reduced?” This can only be answered with the aid of an Acid Testing Kit. Once all other ingredients – besides the Acid Blend – have been added to the wine must, you would use the Acid Testing Kit to determine how much Acid Blend, if any, is actually needed for the wine to taste in balance – not too sharp, or not too flat. Our acid testing kit comes with directions that will tell you how to get the wine acidity into the right range.

 

The Alcohol Level Needs To Kept In Balance.

In general, the fuller the flavor of a wine, the higher the alcohol level must be to keep it in balance. Wines that do not have enough alcohol as compared to their flavor intensity, will taste harsher. The astringent characters of the wine will be highlighted in the wine’s final flavor profile.

To help put this into better perspective, lighter white wines tend to be around 10% alcohol, while the heaviest of reds tend to be around 14%. The particular blueberry wine recipe you are considering is shooting for around 11.5% to 12%, that is, if you follow the homemade wine instructions.

This alcohol level is based on both the amount of sugar and fruit called for in the wine recipe. Both of these ingredients are wine making materials that provide food for the wine yeast to turn into alcohol.

If you decide to add more fruit to your wine recipe, then you should probably shoot for more alcohol. Not necessarily 14%, but maybe somewhere around 12.5% or 13%. There is no exact amount that is correct. This is where art, finesse and experience come into play.

To control the finished alcohol level of a wine, you need to control the beginning sugar level. This is done with the “potential alcohol” scale on the wine hydrometer. Once the crushed fruit and water are mixed together, instead of adding 11 pounds of sugar as directed by the wine recipe on our website, just keep dissolving sugar into the wine must until the potential alcohol scale on the wine hydrometer reads 13%.Shop Hydrometers

 

More Flavor Means More Aging.

Another consideration that must be thought through before increasing the amount of fruit is the amount of aging that will be required before the wine is considered mature and ready for consumption.

Here again, the more fruit you add to a wine recipe, the more aging the wine will need before it comes into its own. With the original 13 pounds of blueberries, maximum aging would be around 6 to 9 months. With 20 pounds it may take as long as 12 to 18 months before the improvement brought by aging is fully realized.

This does not mean that you can not drink the wine before this; it just means that you can expect the wine to continue improving with even more time. Again, neither I nor wine making books can tell you when the wine has reached full maturation, this is for you to learn how to determine on your own as you sample the wine through out the aging process.

 

As You May Begin To See…

There are a lot of factors that go into putting together a solid wine recipe: picking out the various wine making products; determining their amounts, etc.

Shop Wine Making KitsAll the wine recipes we offer on our website have been bench tested and used many, many times. While you can alter them as you like, realize that any changes you make to any one ingredient, usually means that you will need to change another ingredient to keep things in line.

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.

Adding Oak Chips During Fermentation Vs. After Fermentation

Oak Chip For Wine MakingThe wine kits I use often have a small packet of oak chips for adding during the fermentation. Your article on the use of toasted oak chips for wine making says to add them during the aging process, not during the primary fermentation. What is the difference?

Name: David F.
State: Illinois
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Hello David,

Thanks for the great question on adding oak chips during fermentation in the primary.

An important thing to know is that oak chips have an effect on the wine that is directly controlled by the amount of oak chips use and how long the chips are in the wine.

Wine kits that have been packaged with the pre-measured ingredients have been bench-tested. Trials of the wine has been made several times by the producer with variations of ingredients – such as the oak chips – to see which recipe combination produces the best wine. The goal is to produce a wine with the best overall balance and character. The producer of your wine kit knows how much oak chip to add to the fermentation to make an optimal wine because they bench-test.

By adding the oak chips during the fermentation, the wine is able to clear up more quickly and not have to go through the extra step of carefully bulk-aging with oak chips after the fermentation. This allows you to be able to bottle your wine in 4 to 6 weeks.Shop Toasted Oak Chips

The home winemaker who is making wine from fresh fruit does not have the luxury of knowing ahead of time the optimal amount of oak chips to put in the fermentation. The juice at hand is unique and has not been bench-tested.

Even for the home winemaker that makes the same wine from the same vines in their backyard every year, experiences variations in the profile of the juice from one year to the next. Adding oak chips during the fermentation in these situations would give the winemaker absolutely no control over the outcome. They could only take a wild guess as to home much oak to add to a primary fermentation.

For this reason, it is much better for the home winemaker to add the oak chips after the fermentation, while the wine is aging, instead during the fermentation. After the fermentation is done and has cleared, they can add in a reasonable amount of oak chips (we suggest 2 oz. to 4 oz. to 5 gallons); leave the oak chips in over time as the wine ages; sampling their effects along the way.

Being able to sample the wine over time is the key. Once the desired amount of oak character is achieved, the oak can be removed. Handling the oak chips in this way allows the winemaker to have exacting control over the amount of barrel-aged character the wine will have. Leave the oak chips in until it’s right; then take them out.Shop Oak Wood Extractive

I hope this information helps clear up the difference between adding oak chips during fermentation and after the fermentation. Unless you have a wine kit that includes oak chips, you will want to add the oak chips to the secondary fermentation not the primary.

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.

Using A Blender To Crush Wine Making Fruit

Wine Making Fruit In BlenderJust started a blueberry wine. Ran the berries through a blender instead of crushing them (lazy I guess). I did not add Campden tablets to it in the beginning, not sure if this is a problem. There is a pulp crust forming on top right now, I stir this each day, should I remove it after 5 or 6 days before I transfer the wine to a carboy?

Name: Lee P.
State: TN
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Hello Lee,

The fact that you did not add Campden tablets before the fermentation is probably not going to be a problem in this case.

The big issue here is that fact that you are using a blender to crush your wine making fruit. What this typically does is cause the resulting wine to be bitter. The over chopping and destroy of the pulp and seeds releases too much tannin into the wine. In turn, the wine will have a lower pH from excessive tannic acid, giving it an unpleasant, bitter-dry, puckering taste.

For future reference, you only want to crush the fruit. Using a blender is way overkill. You only need to make sure that the outer structure of the fruit has been busted in some way. This is something that can quickly be done by hand when dealing with 10 lb. or 15 lb. of fruit such as blueberries. If you are dealing with more fruit than this, then you may want to invest in a fruit crusher, but never use a blender to crush any kind of wine making fruit.

Shop Wine PressWhen the fermentation starts the wine yeast will produce enzymes that will naturally break down the fruit in a more natural, gentler way. The pectic enzyme that is called for in most fruit wine recipes will also help in the regard. For this reason you do not need to do a lot; let the yeast do if for you.

With that being said, there are still some things you can do to counteract using a blender to crush wine making fruit:

 

  1. Shorten the amount of time you leave the fruit in the fermentation. The shorter the better. I would recommend 2, maybe 3 days at most. This will give less time for the bitterness to leach from the fruit.
  1. Treat the wine with bentonite after the fermentation has completed. This will help to drop out the excessive tannin and other proteins that where extracted from the fruit. You may even want to use the bentonite more than once.
  1. Age the wine longer than you normally would. Many of the flavor affects of having too much tannin in the wine can be resolved with additional aging. Instead of 3 to 6 months, think more along the lines of 9 to 15 months. Quite often this will be enough to bring the wine back into a flavorful balance.Shop Pectic Enzyme

 

I hope this helps you out, and I hope your wine turns out great, regardless. Just remember that using a blender to crush your wine making fruit is not the way to go.

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.

Your Wine Could Be Cloudy Because Of A Pectin Haze

Wine With HazeI am having some trouble getting some of my fruit wine to clear. The berry wines clear right away (black raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, raspberry, current) but some of the other fruit wines stay cloudy (apple, peach, pear, dogwood). Is there something different I should be doing with these wines to make them clear better?

Name: Charlene
State: New York
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Hello Charlene,

It might be a pectin haze that’s making your wine cloudy. Some fruits have more pectin in them than others. Pectin is the gel that holds the fruit’s fiber together. If the pectin is not completely broken down during the fermentation you can end up with what known as a pectin haze in your wine. This sounds like what is giving you a cloudy wine.

During the fermentation the yeast will produce pectic enzymes to breakdown the pectin cells. You may have also added pectic enzyme directly to the batch per your wine recipe. With most fruits this is sufficient, but even then you can sometimes end up with a pectin haze with the particular fruit wines you mentioned.

Apple, peach and pear all have significant levels of pectin, more so than most other fruits. The dogwood I’m not sure about. If you did not add pectic enzyme to your wine recipe, then most certainly a pectin haze is the issue at hand. But, even if you did add pectic enzyme, this is still what I suspect is going on because of the specific wines that are cloudy. Pectic enzyme is that important.

As for what you can do now…Shop Pectic Enzyme
Whether or not you have added pectic enzyme to your wine must, you can add more now, however it may take some time for the wine to clear… sometimes months. Of course, this is assuming you have not bottled the wine already. If you have, then that ship has already sailed, so to speak. You could decant the wine; treat the wine; and then re-bottle, however I would not do it if it were my wine, simply for the fact that this type of cloudiness dose not affect the flavor at all only appearance. Live-and-learn, and move on.

Even at that, one thing you could do for future reference is to take a bottle of the suspect wine; add it to a quart Mason jar, or similar; and treat it with a teaspoon of pectic enzyme. This would be an extremely strong dose, so if a pectin haze is the issue at hand, you should see it respond to the addition of pectic enzyme by clearing in a matter of days if not hours. This will let you know if you have found the problem in the form of a pectin haze for future reference and give you a little piece of mind.

As a home winemaker, pectin haze issues should always be in the back of one’s mind. It’s something that doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it can be very aggravating. Shop Wine ClarifiersKeep a particularly close eye when fermenting fruits high in pectin and always use pectic enzyme when fermenting fresh fruits.

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.

Why Is My Homemade Wine Fizzy?

Homemade Wine That Is FizzyI bottled some blackberry a few months ago. When I opened a bottle today it fizzed over and kept bubbling for a while. What did I do wrong, I followed a wine recipe?

Name: Ed W.
State: FL
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Hello Ed,

Sorry to hear that your wine has gotten a little out of control. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on. There are basically two ways a homemade wine can end up fizzy or bubbly. I’ll go over them here:

 

1. Re-Fermentation:
This is the most common way to get a fizzy wine. When a fermentation stops it usually means that it has finished. That means all the sugars in the wine must have been fermented into alcohol. There are no more sugars to ferment.

But on occasion a fermentation will stop before the sugars are all gone. This is known as a stuck fermentation. This can happen for a number of reasons: wrong fermentation temperature, using distilled water, etc. (see The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure) For this reason it is important that you check the must with a wine hydrometer to confirm that all the sugars have been fermented before moving on to the next step.

If you continue on with the wine recipe and end up bottling the wine with sugars still in it, then a fermentation could start up within any or all the wine bottles at any time in the future, even months down the road. It is important to remember that even the slightest amount of fermentation can cause a lot of fizzy within the wine.

Shop Potassium SorbateThe only exception to the above is if you have added potassium sorbate to the wine, also known as wine stabilizer. If you have added this before bottling, then the chance have having a re-fermentation within the wine bottles is greatly diminished. The same holds true if you have sweetened the wine before bottling. You need to add potassium sorbate along with the sugar to eliminate a potential for a re-fermentation within the wine bottle.

 

2. Bacterial Infection:
This is not as common of a reason for a homemade wine being fizzy as a re-fermentation, but it happens. If the fermenters, stirring spoons, hoses, wine bottles, corks and anything else the wine comes into contact with has not been sufficiently sanitized, then you run the risk of infecting your wine with a bacteria.

There are many excellent sanitizers on the market. We recommend Basic A because it is very safe and simple to use. You should also add sulfites directly to the wine after the fermentation, and again, right before bottling the wine. If you miss killing some bacteria, then adding sulfites such as Campden tablet or sodium metabisulfite to the wine will go a long way towards protecting it.

 

One thing you have mentioned is that the wine is fizzy instead of bubbly. If the wine has re-fermented, most people would describe it as bubbly and not fizzy. The CO2 bubbles from a fermentation are pretty good size. Fizzy sounds like the bubbles are smaller than that. That is what you would expect to find with a bacterial infection.

Shop Basic AYou also said that it fizzed for a long time. This is fairly definitive. When you get a fizzing that bubbles evenly for a period of time, that is also an indicator of a bacterial infection. Carbonation from a re-fermentation is more explosive and short-lived. A bacterial infection is not explosive. Once you open the bottle, it take a few seconds for it to build up a head of steam and get going.

I’m not sure, because I am not there, but I would guess the reason your homemade wine is fizzy is because of a bacterial infection. That being the case, sanitation of equipment and use of sulfites needs to be the focus when making future batches.

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.

3 Reasons Freezing Wine Making Fruit Should Be On Your Radar

Frozen Wine Making FruitQuestion, is it better to make wine with fruit that has been frozen?

Thanks,
Gerald
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Hello Gerald,

Thanks for the great question and bringing up a great wine making subject. Freezing wine making fruit is a great tactic for the home winemaker. It’s one of the wine making tips I share with people quite often.

Just like you said, freezing the fruit breaks down the fiber that is holding it together. When it comes time to actually use the wine making fruit, you will find that the color and flavors will release from the fruit into the wine must more readily. This means you are getting more out of your wine making fruit.

Not only does freezing the wine making fruit have this subtle advantage, but there are a couple of more-obvious advantages as well. Freezing the fruit affords you the luxury of being able to make the wine when you are ready to make the wine. If the strawberries are ready, but your not… freeze ’em!

Another advantage is sometimes you don’t have enough fruit to make an entire batch of of a particular fruit wine recipe. Not all fruits come in evenly. The solution is to freeze the fruit as it comes in. Freezing the wine making fruit allows you to hoard until you do have enough to make a full batch of wine.

Shop Wine Making KitsThere’s really not much to know about freezing the fruit. Its okay to chop up your larger fruit. But for berries, you are better off leaving them whole. I strongly suggest sanitizing all wine making fruits in a bath of sodium metabisulfite and water solution before freezing. Drain the fruit thoroughly. Also, common sense would dictate that the “bad ones” be pick out and discarded.

If you plan on freezing the fruit for a longer period of time, say six months or more, you may want to consider packing the fruit in sugar syrup. This will help to eliminate any negative effects from freezer-burn. Just like it sounds, you use just enough sugar syrup to cover/submerge the fruit before freezing.

If you do decide to pack your fruits in sugar syrup you will want to add less sugar then your wine recipes calls for. This is to allow for the additional sugar that will be incorporated into the wine must along with the fruit.

A simple way of handling this adjustment is to rely on your wine hydrometer. Use the hydrometer to tell you how much sugar is needed in the recipe instead of adding the amount called for in the wine recipe. Just add sugar until the desired alcohol level is reached the the hydrometer’s potential alcohol scale.

Shop Wine PressFreezing wine making fruit is not a necessity to making wine. You can make incredible wines without freezing the fruit at all. Freezing fruit is just one more method you can use to help the fruit keep while waiting from more.

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.

3 Clever Ways To Reduce Wine Acidity

Why To Reduce Wine AcidityHave now racked my muscadine wine for the 2nd time and gave it a taste test. It seems to have a very tart taste. What can I do to correct this?

Name: Bud
State: Tennessee
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Hello Bud,

The reason your homemade Muscadine wine is too tart is because the acidity is too high. The acidity comes from the fruit, itself, in this case the Muscadine grapes. It can also come from any Acid Blend you added as called for in your wine recipe. Every crop of Muscadines has a little difference in tartness, so it is hard for a homemade wine recipe to be accurate every time. The same goes for making wine with most fruits.

There are a some things you can do to reduce wine acidity, but now is not the time to do it. You will want to wait until the wine has completely cleared and is to the point where it could be bottled. Once you are at this point in the wine making process, you can take corrective actions to lower the wine’s acidity.

The best place to start is with an Acid Test Kit. This will tell you how much fruit acid is in the homemade wine and how much should be in it. It’s a great product to uses for such a situation. All you need is a small sample of the wine must to take a reading, and it’s fairly quick. The reading will tell you exactly how much titratable acid is in the wine.

There are three common ways to reduce wine acidity and get the wine’s tartness in the right range:

 

  • Dilution:
    If the wine is just a little too tart, you can do something as simple as add water to dilute it. You should use distilled water so that oxygen from the water is not introduced into your wine. The obvious problem with using this method to lower the acidity of a wine is that it isShop Acid Test Kit diluting the wine’s flavor as well. If you have taken a reading with the Acid Test Kit and know what your wine’s acid level is and what it should be, you can use something called a Pearson’s Square to figure out how much water it would take to reach your target acidity level.
  • Neutralization:
    One product that is perfect for reducing wine acidity is Acid Reducing Crystals. It is added directly to the wine and neutralizes a portion of the acid causing it to drop out as tartrate crystals. The directions on the side if the jar will tell you exactly how much of the Acid Reducing Crystals to add to reach your target acidity level.
  • Malolactic Fermentation:
    A malolactic fermentation is essentially a controlled bacterial fermentation with a selected malolactic bacterial culture. It is something separate from the alcohol fermentation, and is usually started at the tail end of a yeast fermentation or later. The malolactic culture slowly ferments malic acid into both lactic acid and CO2 gas. Not only is lactic acid not as tart as malic, there will be less of it when the fermentation is done, by about half. The other half is dissipated from the wine as CO2 gas. Some types of wines are routinely put through a malolactic fermentation for flavor considerations, but not all wines are well suited for a malolactic fermentation. For this reason, you should use malolactic fermentations with caution when used for the sole purpose of reducing wine acidity.

 

Shop Acid Reducing CrystalsIt may be a little obvious at this point, but you can also use a combination of the three methods to lower the acidity of the wine. This is a good option for wines that are way too tart.

If you make wine from fresh fruits for any length of time, eventually you’ll run into a situation where the wine is to tart. Knowing how to reduce wine acidity is key to becoming a well-rounded home winemaker.

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.

If You Struggle With Degassing Homemade Wine, Then Read This…

Degassing Homemade Wine With DrillDegassing the wine has been one of my biggest problems, stirring just does not get it done. I am in the health field so… Next I tried a surgical suction pump generating about 20 inches of mercury neg pressure. That did ok but there is still a little fizz. Next I went for stopcocks, tubing and 60cc syringe, boy can I get negative pressure with that. No more fizz but you should see the bubbles that come out and keep coming out even after the wine taste flat with no fizz. Any idea what I am pulling out, can’t all be CO2 can it?

Name: Bill B
State: NY
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Hello Bill,

Thanks for your great question on degassing homemade wine. I hope this information clears things up for you.

To answer your question, absolutely there can still be CO2 gas in your homemade wine. At one atmosphere the wine can be completely stable and still have CO2 gas. Then as you apply negative pressure or try degassing the wine with a vacuum, the CO2 bubble begin to appear. The fact is, some CO2 will always want to remain saturated into the wine, just not enough to matter or taste. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

As you have suggested, there are also other gases in your homemade wine. They are mostly produced during the fermentation. These are gases such as sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. Fortunately, these gases are only in trace amounts as compared to the carbon dioxide, but can affect the aroma and flavor if they become excessive.

Degassing Homemade Wine With The WhipOne item you might want to try in the future for degassing your homemade wines is called The Whip. This is a basically an optimally-shaped rod that is used with a drill. It attaches to a hand-drill just like a drill bit would. It agitates the wine and causes the CO2 gas to nucleate and release as bubbles.

 

The reason I bring up The Whip is twofold:

  1. It will degas your homemade wine without splashing it. This is important because splashing can cause air to saturate into the wine which can promote oxidation if it becomes too excessive.
  1. It’s a lot less work. You just stick it into the wine, pull the trigger, and let it do its thing.

 

It is important to realize that when siphoning, pouring, bottling, or doing whatever to a wine, you will get bubbles, no matter what. This is because, just like most liquids, the wine has surface tension that causes these bubbles to form.

I would suggest to you that if you are to a point that you can not get anymore CO2 bubbles to occur when using an agitation method such as a The Whip, then you are done degassing the wine. While you may be able to get more CO2 from the wine with a vacuum, it is not necessary.

Shop Mini Jet Wine FilterAlso, realize that as you go through the steps of making a wine, the act of racking, transferring and bottling will give additional opportunities for the CO2 and other gases to release. What it comes down to, is that degassing homemade wine is not completely necessary until you are ready to bottle it.

Overall, degassing homemade wine is not anything you should worry over too much, Yes, you want to get the bulk of the gas out of the wine. And yes, you want to do it without splashing the wine. But expecting to get every last bit with a vacuum a strong vacuum is not necessary.

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.

Making A Wine Yeast Starter To Restart A Stuck Fermentation

Yeast Starter To Restart Stuck FermentationThere are times when no matter what you do, a fermentation will not complete the task at hand. The fermentation seemed to be going along fine. The activity was looking good. The temperature was right. Then boom! The fermentation seemingly hits a brick wall and comes to an abrupt stop.

You check the wine with a hydrometer only to discover that there is plenty more sugar that needs to be fermented. What you have here is a stuck fermentation.

In most cases you can remedy a stuck fermentation and get it started again by going over The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure, however there are times when there seems to be no solution in sight. These are the times when more drastic measures need to be taken. Namely a wine yeast starter.

A wine yeast starter is a very dependable way to restart a stuck fermentation, particularly when you know that all the environmental conditions are correct. A wine yeast starter is different than rehydrating a yeast for a few minutes. It is actually starting a mini-fermentation for a couple of days and then adding it to the stuck fermentation.

The best wine yeast to use in a starter to restart a stuck fermentation is Champagne type yeast. This type of wine yeast is better at fermenting in diverse conditions than most others. If you do not have a Champagne type yeast on hand, you can use whatever is available and still get positive results, but always use Champagne yeast when it is available for restarting a stuck fermentation.

 

How To Make A Wine Yeast Starter

For restarting 5 or 6 gallons, take a quart jar and fill it half way with the wine in question. Add to that, water until the jar is 2/3 full. Put in the mix a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Be sure that the sugar becomes completely dissolve. Now you can add a whole packet of the Champagne yeast. Cover the jar with a paper towel and secure with a rubber band.Shop Conical Fermenter

Put the starter in a cozy spot at 70° to 75°F. You should see some activity within 12 to 18 hours. You will want to pitch the wine starter into the stuck fermentation right after you see the level of foaming in the jar peak. This will usually be around 1-1/2 to 2 days. Be sure to swirl the jar to add all the sediment in the starter to the wine must, as well.

Don’t worry, you won’t end up with anything like in the picture above. That’s just there for fun, but you should see a good layer of foam be produced before it’s ready to add to the stuck fermentation.

It is a bit of work, but making a wine yeast starter to restart a stuck fermentation is the ultimate way to go when you are having a stubborn fermentation. There are more minor things you can try first, based on The Top Ten Reason For Fermentation Failure article, but when push comes to shove, making a yeast starter is the way to go.
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Wine Concentrate vs Fresh Grapes

Napa Valley SignI have been making wine from top end ($200+) wine concentrate kits and really getting into it. I was wondering if I should continue with wine kits or jump into creating wine from fresh grapes. I guess my questions is: What will produce a better red wine, a high end wine kit or quality fresh grapes?

Best Regards,
Dominick S.
—–
Hello Dominick,

This is really a great question, and one that I’m sure is on the minds of many individuals who use these wine concentrate kits, so I’ll cut right to the chase.

As surprising as it may seem, your better wines are much more likely to come from our high-end, wine kits. There are two very compelling reasons for this:

 

1. You cannot make a wine that is better than the grapes used to produce it.

This is an adage that is well known and respected throughout the wine making industry. While adhering to sound wine making practices is extremely important, the quality of your wine is limited by the quality of your grape. Being a good wine maker does not trump having good grapes.

And that is exactly what you are paying for when you purchase our high-end concentrate kits. You are paying for select grapes. These are grapes from prized wine making regions around the world. So unless you are writing to me from Napa or Sonoma County, the quality of the grapes you can find will have to be taken into consideration. Most home wine makers do not have access to the caliber of grapes these kits provide.Shop Wine Kits

 

2. The juices in these kits have been bench-tested several times.

What I mean by this is the producers of these concentrate kits have already made the wine from them and have made the optimal adjustments before they are brought to the home wine maker market. All the controllable variables such as acidity, brix level, and others have all been taken care of for you so that you can have consistently good results.

 

All of the above does not mean that you shouldn’t make wine from fresh grapes. There’s always something charming about making something from scratch, and the case of making your own wine, is no different. It’s fun… It’s gratifying… It’s rewarding… It gives you a sense of accomplishment, just like any good hobby should do.

Making wine from fresh grapes is also a great learning experience. You get to acquaint yourself, first-hand, to what a winery has to accomplish to turn the grapes into a wine. So if you are in the hobby to learn more about wine, then by all means go ahead. Make some wine from fresh grapes. But, if you’re in it to make the best wine possible, the smart money is on wine concentrate kits.shop_wine_making_kits

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.