2 Great Questions About Bottling Homemade Wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without this straight-barrel opening two things can happen:

 

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

 

Thanks for the great questions, Tom.

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.

Try This Amazing Blueberry Wine Recipe

Homemade Blueberry WineIf you’ve never made wine before, I would submit to you that making a blueberry wine is a perfect place to start.

For one, blueberry wine is any easy wine to make. And, it only requires the most elementary pieces of wine making equipment. Secondly, it makes an INCREDIBLE wine. Blueberries, quite frankly, are well suited to making wine. The flavors come through fruity and bright.

Secondly, it’s springtime and blueberry season is just around the corner, so what better time to get your ducks-in-a-row and everything squared-away, so that when they do come in you’ll have exactly what you need and know what to do.

The blueberry wine recipe below is very simple to use. All you need are the ingredients listed and to follow the basic wine making directions that’s are on our website. The blueberries can be fresh or frozen. Either way will work equally well in the recipe.

To prepare the blueberries all that is required is that the berries be lightly crush. You can do this by hand, or you could use something like a potato masher. You do not want to crush the berries too much, and you definitely do not want to break any seeds. This could unnecessarily add a bitterness to the wine.

 

Ed’s Blueberry Wine RecipeShop Wine Making Kits
(Makes 5 Gallons)

13 lbs. Blueberries (lightly crushed)
11 lbs. Cane Sugar (table sugar)
1 tbsp. Yeast Energizer
Pectic Enzyme (as directed on its package)
2 tbsp. Acid Blend
Red Star Montrachet Wine Yeast
10 Campden Tablets (5 before to fermentation, 5 before bottling)

 

One of the fun thing about making your own wine is that you get to make it as sweet or as dry as you like. If you do nothing more than follow the directions, you will end up with a dry blueberry wine. But if you want to make a sweet wine, you can sweeten the blueberry wine to taste just before bottling. Just remember, if doing so, to also add potassium sorbate along with the Campden tablets called for in the blueberry wine recipe.Shop Wine Conditioner

Now, doesn’t that sound simple? I imagine the hardest part is keeping your patience in tact. Be sure the fermentation has completed and give it plenty of time to clear up before bottling. Once in the bottle, realize that aging the wine will dramatically improve its quality over the first couple of 3 months. After that drink up.

If you need wine making equipment to make the wine, the “Your Fruit!” wine making kit is taylor-made for making this blueberry wine recipe. Not only does it have the equipment you’ll need, but it also has plenty of the basic wine making ingredients for making many different kinds of wine – all at a discounted price.


My Fermentation Smells Like Burnt Matches

Burning Match With SmokeMy homemade wine has started producing a burnt match smell after about 1 week of fermentation. No sulfur has been used in sterilization etc, can you advise? chuck out?? cry???

Thanks Carrie
—–
Hello Carrie,

What you are more than likely smelling is hydrogen sulfide that is being produced by the yeast. It is also often compared to a rotten egg or burning rubber smell, as well as the burnt matches, as you have suggest. All wine making yeast produce this gas to some degree, but if you are experiencing an smell that is stronger than normal, it could be that one of the following is occurring:

 

  1. Wild yeast is doing the fermenting.
    Even if domesticated wine yeast was added, there is still a possibility of wild yeast fermenting along side it. This is something that can play out when making wine from fresh fruit. Wild forms of yeast will produce all kinds of off odors, including the burnt match odor your are describing.Shop Wine Yeast
  1. You are fermenting at too warm of temperature.
    Fermenting at higher temperatures will entice the wine making yeast to produce higher levels of hydrogen sulfide. This, in turn, can cause your fermentation to smell like burnt matches. Fermentation temperatures as low as 78°F. can even potentially produce excessive hydrogen sulfide.
  1. The yeast does not have enough nutrients available.
    You may want to consider adding yeast nutrient or yeast energizer, particularly if you have not done so already.

 

All three of the above reasons relate to putting the yeast under stress. Wild yeast hasn’t been bred to do such a big job, so it is stressed; too warm of a temperature will add stress to any living organism; and being short on nutrition would obviously be stressful, as well.

Usually the hydrogen sulfide will reduce to an acceptable level on its own by the time you are ready to bottle the wine. It will simply Shop Yeast Energizerrelease into the air and go away throughout the wine making process. However, if you get down to bottling the wine and the odor is still prevalent, there are still some things you can do to reduce it:

 

  • You can rack the wine several times in a splashing manner. This will give opportunity for the burnt match odor to leave the wine.
  • You can also pour the wine over sanitized copper. The reaction of the wine to the copper will help the gas to release more easily. Copper wool stuffed into a funnel works well for this process.

 

It is important to remember that if you do either of these treatments, that you also add sulfites such as Campden tablets or potassium metabisulfite. Either one of these should be added to the wine afterwards. This will help to driveBuy Potassium Metabisulfite out the oxygen that that was saturated into the wine during the process. Too much oxygen saturated in a wine will promote oxidation. Coincidentally, sulfites help do drive out the hydrogen sulfide, as well.

The real solution to making sure your fermentation does not smell like burnt matches is to keep the yeast happy. Use the right kind of yeast, keep it at a comfortable temperature, and make sure it has all the nutrition it needs.

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

My Favorite Strawberry Wine Recipe

Wine made from strawberry wine recipe.If you could take springtime and put it into a bottle you would most likely end up with something close to a strawberry wine. For me, strawberry wine is the very essence of spring. Its flavor is bright and fresh. Its aroma is floral and sweet. As far as I’m concerned strawberry wine represents all things spring quite well.

If fresh strawberries are not already available in your area, they will be soon. With that in mind here is a strawberry wine recipe that you can use to get your springtime groove on. It’s a wine recipe I have used several times with great results. I couldn’t think of a better time to share it than right now!

 

Strawberry Wine Recipe
(5 Gallons)

19 lbs. Strawberries
10 lbs. Cane Sugar (1.090)
4 Tsp. Acid Blend  Shop Niagara Mist Fruit Blend Wine Kits
5 Tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 Tsp. Wine Tannin
Pectic Enzyme (as directed on package)
1/4 Tsp. Potassium Metabisulfite (or 5 Campden Tablets)
Wine Yeast (recommend Lalvin 71B-1122)
10 Campden Tablets (5 before fermentation, 5 before bottling)

 

You can use the basic wine making directions that are on our website for making this strawberry wine recipe. Just be sure to remove any stem or green parts of the strawberry before using. You do not need to crush the strawberries. Just give them a coarse chopping. The strawberries will breakdown and release all their goodness during the fermentation.Shop Fruit Wine Bases

One variation I have done a couple of time when making this is to exchange 2 pounds of the sugar for 3 pounds of raspberry spun honey. This exchange will keep your starting specific gravity about the same. The raspberry honey will intensify the sweet, perfume-y bouquet this wine likes to give. Essentially, it’s giving you more of one of the features that makes strawberry wine so great.

Another great thing about making this strawberry wine recipe is that it does not need much aging. So many wines are consumed before they reach their best simply because they need so much aging. Fortunately, that’s not the case with making strawberry wine.

I would not attempt to bulk-age the wine for any length of time, at all. Give it plenty of time to clear, but after that go straight into the wine bottles. Once in the bottles, give your strawberry wine at least one month to develop its bouquet. It will taste its best at around 4 to 6 months. Don’t let it sit around for any more than 1 year. Drink up!Shop Wine Making Kits

Do you have a strawberry wine recipe you’d like to share with other home winemakers? Just leave it in the comments below. We’d love to see what you’ve got cookin’!

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.

My Homemade Wine Is Too Dry. Is There Anything I Can Do?

Zach Galifianakis who's homemade wine is too dry.I have a mustang grape wine that has been aging in a carboy. Last night I tried and it has a hydrometer reading of .992. When I tasted the wine, it was too dry for me. How can I sweeten up this wine to a semi sweet?

John
_____
Hello John,

One of the great things about making your own wine is that you get to drink it the way you want to – even if you want to drink it like our buddy Zach Galifianakis does. For me personally, this is the fun part of making homemade wine. Adjust it until you get the wine just the way you like it. This is something that can’t practically be done unless you are making the wine yourself. This is what makes this hobby so valuable.

Shop Wine ConditionerIn your case, you are not particularly happy with one of the basic features of the wine: the dryness or sweetness of the wine. You are saying that your homemade wine is too dry for your own personal taste. Fortunately, the solution is very simple. All you need to do is add sugar to the wine until it is at the sweetness you desire – custom made for you!

It is important to remember that you do not want to adjust the sweetness of a wine until it has completely cleared up and is ready to bottle, so make sure the wine is ready to be bottled before adding the sugar.

At bottling time you can make the wine sweeter tasting. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to use Wine Conditioner. This is basically a sweetener and stabilizer combined together into a syrup. The stabilizer (potassium sorbate) makes sure that your wine does not start fermenting the new sugars while in the wine bottle.

You can also use your own sugar, honey, etc. to sweeten your wine, but you will also need to add potassium sorbate separately to eliminate any Shop Potassium Sorbatechance of the wine re-fermentating. So, as I think you can start to see, if your homemade wine is too dry, it’s not that big of a deal to fix.

If the sugar you are using is granulated, I would also suggest that you pre-dissolve the sugar into a syrup before adding it to the wine. This will help to eliminate the need for excessive stirring when adding the sugar.

When actually sweetening your wine it is best to sweeten a portion of the batch, first. For example, take a measured sample of the wine – say, one gallon – and add measured amounts of sweetener to it to establish a dosage to your liking. Once the dosage is determined you can then do the same thing to the rest of the wine. This insures that you do not get the entire batch too sweet.

Shop HydrometersIf you do accidentally add too much sugar to the measured sample, just blend it back into the rest of the batch and start all over with a new gallon sample.

We also have an article on our website, Making Sweet Wines, that will have more information about what to do if your homemade wine is too dry. You may want to take a look at it as well.

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.

Preparing Your Corks When Bottling Homemade Wine

Wine corks waiting to be prepared for bottling wine.Correctly preparing corks for bottling wine is important. Not only should the wine corks be sanitary, but they should be softened just enough to allow your corker to put them in the wine bottle with ease.

There are two basic ways to go about sterilizing and softening wine corks: This first involves submerging the corks in a solution of sodium metabisulfite and cold water. The second, involves steaming the corks in water.

 

Cold Soaking The Wine Corks:

Sodium metabisulfite and cold water makes a solution that will sanitize the corks. This solution can also soften the corks if they are allowed to soak long enough, usually over night, and it’s very simple to do.

Shop Sodium MetabisulfiteMix 1/8 teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite to each pint of water and submerge the wine corks in the solution. Corks like to float. So I have found that using a container with a lid of some type will help you to get this accomplished. Use the lid to push down the corks into the solution.

Let the wine corks soak long enough to make them slightly soft. You do not want the them to be spongy. You want them to be firm, but still give just a little. Remove the wine corks from the sanitizing solution and allow them to drain for a few minutes in a colander, strainer or something similar.

 

Steaming The Wine Corks:

Preparing corks for bottling by steaming them is much quicker than just soaking them, but it does take some care. It is very easy to over-steam the wine corks making them very spongy and hard to press into the wine bottle without mangling them.

Also, too much heat on the wine corks for too long will cause them to become brittle and crumble later on when they are pulled from the wine bottle.  Excessive heat denatures the wine cork causing it to deteriorate while in the bottle.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

Bring a pot of water to a boil then turn the burner off. Put the corks on the steaming water and place a lid over them. In just a matter of 2 or 3 minutes the corks should show some signs of softening. Once you feel the corks firmness start to give – just a little – rinse them in cold water to cool them down. They are then ready to be used.

Under no circumstances would I recommend preparing the wine corks by steaming them for longer than 5 minutes.

Which method you use for preparing corks for bottling is up to you. I feel the preferred method is to cold soak them, but if you forget to start that the day before bottling the wine, I can understand you wanting to steam the wine corks instead.
—–
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.

Crazy! But Why Is My Wine Turning Orange?

What you see when a wine turning orange.I recently made KenRidge Pinot Grigio and bottled it at the end of December. While the taste of the wine is fine, any wine leftover in the bottle (re-corked) for two days starts turning orange. The wine fermented correctly, all directions were followed, and the wine was filtered prior to bottling. Why is my wine turning orange? Is this a health hazard?, and is there anything I can do now to prevent this colorization?

Terry – OH
—–
Dear Terry,

The reason why your wine is turning orange is very simple: your wine is oxidizing.

Oxidation is a process that occurs when a wine is exposed to excessive oxygen for too long of time. In your case, once the cork is pulled from a wine bottle, you are allowing air to enter with the wine. This allows the oxidative process to start.

This is no different that when an apple core turns brown. The first signs of your wine oxidizing will show itself as a light-orange tinge that will later turn to a light-amber, then dark-amber, then eventually brown. If you have ever seen a Shop Potassium BisulfiteSherry or a Port, these are examples of wines that are oxidized on purpose.

The wine is perfectly safe to drink. There is nothing going on that would make the wine harmful. However, you will probably notice some deterioration in the wine’s overall character. This is normally first noticeable as a loss of fruitiness and a collapse of any complexities the wine may have had. In other words, the wine will typically start to have a flat and lifeless impression. Then as the oxidation progress on you may start to notice a caramel or raisin smell, then in later stages, as a caramel or raisin taste.

There are some things you can do to help keep your wine from turning orange and experiencing the other effects of oxidation:

 

  • Add sulfites to the wine at bottling time. Shop Ascorbic AcidDoing this will delay the oxidative process once the bottle has been opened. It will also help the wine to keep better while aging in the wine bottle.
  • Add ascorbic acid to the wine at bottling time. This will help to slow the effects of oxidation by lowering the wine’s pH.
  • Keep partial bottles in the refrigerator. Cooler temperatures will slow down the oxidative process as well as keeping the wine out of direct UV rays such as sunlight.
  • Use a Vacuvin Wine Saver on partial bottles. The Vacuvin Wine Saver allows you to pump air out of the wine bottle. This will slow the oxidative process, dramatically. This is a very effective way for you to keep your wine from turning orange since you are dealing will partial bottles of wine.
  • And, then there’s the solution I find most effective of all… drink the whole bottle!Shop Vacuvin Wine Saver

 

If you want to read more about oxidation and why a wine will start turning orange you may also want to take a look at the article, “Controlling Oxidation In Your Homemade Wines.”

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.

10 Random Wine Making Tips And Tricks

Learning Wine Making TipsHere is a collection of wine making tips and tricks for beginners and more-seasoned home winemakers. This is advice that has been published throughout our various newsletters over the years. They are just bits and pieces of information that have proven to be useful to home winemakers and help keep them from making mistakes.

 

  1. I’ll put the most important of wine making tips, first. Control your fermentation temperatures. The number one reason for a failed fermentation is temperature. The ideal temperatures for a healthy fermentation is between 70° and 75°F. If the fermentation is cooler than this, the wine yeast will start to go dormant and become inactive. If the fermentation becomes warmer than this, you will be increasing the ability of mold and bacteria to take over the wine.
  1. It is possible to temporarily cut back the amount of water called for in a wine recipe in order to accommodate a fermenter that’s not quite large enough. For example, if you have a wine making kit that makes 6 gallons, Shop Wine Kit Tips Bookbut your primary fermenter will only hold 6 gallons to the brim, you can cut back on the water called for by 1/2 gallon to allow for the foaming until it is time to transfer it to your secondary fermenter. At that time the shorted water can be added to the batch. The water should be distilled water when added at this point. The maximum amount I recommend shorting the water in a given batch is 1 gallon to every 5 or 6 gallons. This is assuming that the shortage will be promptly made up when the wine is transferred to a secondary container.
  1. Don’t have time to make wine when your fruits are ready? That’s okay. Just put your wine making fruits in the freezer. Fruits that have been frozen tend to break down more readily when fermented anyway. This will allow more of the fruits character to be release into your wine must. Of all the wine making tips, I particularly like this one the best. It has afforded me ability to have time to make more wine throughout the year.
  1. If you have ever picked elderberries before you know that it can be a very time consuming task. Not only are the number of berries required to make a batch of homemade wine quite high, the amount of stems that are involve are just as bad. You can categorize this one under time saving wine making tips… Shop Wine YeastWhen collecting the elderberries simply cut them off in clusters, stems and all. A tile knife works great for this. Put them all in a plastic trash bag or similar and freeze them for at least 2 days. Once the elderberry clusters have been frozen, inflate the trash bag with air, tie off its opening. Then violently shake or beat the bag against the ground. This will break most of the elderberries lose from the stems. Once this has been done sufficiently, clip a bottom corner of the plastic bag and the elderberries will come rolling out. You won’t get 100% of the berries out, so there will be some waste in the process. But, it is well worth the time that you will save.
  1. By storing your packets of fresh wine yeast in the refrigerator, you can double their shelf-life. Yeast stored in this way will always be good for at least two years after purchasing. If yeast is just stored at room temperature it is usually only good for about a year. It is important to note here that you never want to freeze yeast. Freezing yeast damages their cell walls making budding or reproducing very difficult during the fermentation.
  1. One easy way to warm up your fermenters during the cooler months is to use an old lamp with an old style 100 watt light bulb. If you place the bulb 12 inches off to the side of a 5 gallon batch, it will warm the liquid’s temperature by about 8 to 10 degrees. Wrap the vessel in a dark trash bag to protect the wine from the excessive light the bulb causes. If 8 or 10 degrees is too much of an increase, just back off the bulb another 1 or 2 inches away from your fermentation vessel. Use a stick-on thermometer on the opposite side the the fermenter to track the temperature.Shop Temp Probe
  1. When taking a hydrometer reading, give the hydrometer a quick spin in the liquid to be tested, first. This is to dislodge any air bubbles that may be clinging to the side of the wine hydrometer. These bubbles can slightly throw off your reading.
  1. To increase the body of a finished wine without making it sweeter, add 2 to 4 ounces of glycerine to each 5 gallon batch. Glycerine is a natural byproduct of a fermentation. It increases the viscosity or mouth-feel of a wine. Heavier red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are known for their body. With these wines the fuller body helps their flavor to linger on the taste buds a bit longer while also helping to reduce the wines rough edges.
  1. Of all the wine making tips I’ve seen or heard of, I believe this one has saved more wine than any other: When doing your first one or two rackings, Shop Potassium Sorbatedon’t leave any wine behind – get it all. Even if it comes along with some of the sediment. With the earlier rackings all you need to be concerned about is getting rid of “most” of the sediment, not “all” of it. And particularly, not at the expense of loosing your precious wine. It is when you get down to the final racking, that it becomes important to leave all of the sediment behind – even at the expense of loosing a little wine. The last racking is the one that really counts. Heeding this wine making tip has saved me more wine than you’ll ever know.
  1. Instead of using cane sugar to sweeten your wines, try sweetening your wine with honey. Honey will enhance the complexity of the wine’s finish (aftertaste) and sweeten it at the same time. Remember to always add a wine stabilizer such as potassium sorbate when sweetening your wine with any type of sugar.

 

There you have it: 10 wine making tips to help your wine making efforts go a little smoother. I’ll go through the files and see if I can come up with any more. When I do, I’ll be sure to post them here.

—–
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.

photo credit: MTSOfan wine making 01 via photopin (license)

What’s The Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

Picture showing difference between Shiraz and Syrah.This is a story of two wines, Syrah and Shiraz, and how they both are the same, yet different. On the surface it seems to be somewhat of an exercise in semantics, with their names being the only difference, but after taking a closer look, it starts to become clear that there is much more to the story than just names.

The difference between Syrah and Shiraz teaches us a lesson, one that illustrates how a grape’s environment and the way in which it is processed can influence the outcome of a resulting wine.

Any wine expert will tell you that Syrah and Shiraz are two varietal wines that are made from the exact same grape. If you analyze the DNA of each grape used to make these wines you will find that there is no difference between them.

 

Then Why The Two Names?

The French refer to the grape and the varietal wine they make from it as Syrah. In other notable regions such as: South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, the grape and the wine is referred to as Shiraz.

But there is something more than just a difference in name. There is a difference in style and character as well. While both wines are very assertive red wines, a Syrah tends to be a little more elegant and complex. It usually has more of a smokey, earthy character with flavors of plum and spicy pepper. Shop Wine KitsA Shiraz on the other hand is more crisp and fruity, less layered with slight, jammy flavors of berry as compared to a Syrah. This is a very wide generalization of each wine, but even so, it would be safe to say that if you tasted both wines side-by-side you would notice more differences than similarities between the two.

 

So, Why Is There A Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah?

Difference Between Shiraz And Syrah VineyardWhile the grape remains the same, in each wine there is so much else that is different. The soil, the climate, the cultivation, and the fermentation all vary to make a Syrah, a Syrah, and a Shiraz, a Shiraz.

While different soils can not assert their own character onto a grape, they can guide the way in which a grape develops its own flavor. This is referred to as the terroir of the wine. The French vineyards are heavy in limestone which can hold moisture better and deeper than most soils. Shop Wine PressThis forces the vines to get more of their nutrients from deeper soils. The result is a wine with more layered, complex flavors.

The French are not allowed to use irrigation or fertilization on their vines, either. This stems from governmental laws designed to keep the grape production limited. This leads to stressed vines with fewer berries, but with each berry packing more flavor.

This is all in contrast to places like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand where Shiraz grapes are produced in sandy soils with plenty of fertilization and irrigation. The cultivation is abundant. This creates a wine with a more even character than a Syrah and with the ability to mature more quickly.

The Syrah is also grown in France’s cooler climate. This lends to the plum-like, smokey character of this wine. This is in comparison to Shiraz which is grown in warmer climates which makes the wine more jammy and berry-like.

Even the rate of fermentation plays some role in the flavor development of the wine. A Syrah is fermented more slowly so as to increase the time the pulp can stay on the fermentation. A Shiraz is fermented at a faster, more-normal rate which helps to make the wine, in general, more fruity.

Shop Wine Making Kits

In Summary:

So as you can see there is much more than just the grape when it comes to bringing a wine to fruition. While a wine’s character always begins with the grape, it ends upon many other factors, including the human touch. There are many other examples of how this is true, but most not quite as clear as the difference between the Shiraz and Syrah.
—–
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.

Darn It! My Wine Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Homemade WineFor the first time ever I ordered juice concentrate, your merlot and blackberry, to try making a large batch of my favorite flavors. Well, I followed the directions to the letter and it all fermented nicely in the primary. After 5 days racked it to the secondary, 6 gallon glass carboy but for the first time left a little head space of a couple inches figuring that it would be ok since it it was still bubbling a little. It has been two weeks and I racked it again to get it off the sediment and OMG it smells of sulfur, or rotten eggs! Once the wine was in my plastic bucket the smell dissipated and the wine tasted ok but today I checked it and there is still a smell. What did I do wrong? I’ve heard of adding egg white to try to take away the smell…. what can I do? I really hope I don’t have to dump it. HELP!

Name: JoAnn S.
State: WI
—–
Hello JoAnn,

All fermentations put off some sulfur or rotten egg smells. Some much more than others. When a wine smells like rotten eggs, what you are actually smelling is hydrogen sulfide. There are many of reasons why one fermentation might produce more hydrogen sulfite than others, but here are the big four:

 

  1. Fermenting With Wild Yeast: Shop Wine Yeast
    In your case, we can rule this out because you are using a wine ingredient kit that comes with a domesticated wine yeast. But if you were relying on wild yeast to do your bidding, this would most likely be the reason why your wine smells like rotten eggs. Some wild yeast can produce tremendous amounts of hydrogen sulfide.
  1. Lack Of Nutrients:
    Not having enough nutrients in the fermentation is another cause of high hydrogen sulfide output. But again, you are using a wine ingredient kit that has been nutritionally balanced. The yeast nutrient is at its ideal level in the wine concentrate, so we can also rule this out for your particular situation.
  1. Fermenting At Too Warm Of Temperature:
    Fermenting your wine too warm is another common reason for a fermentation to produce and abundance of hydrogen sulfide. Temperatures that are above 75°F. are suspect, and anything over 80°F. are likely to be problematic to some degree.
  1. Overworked Yeast: Shop Yeast Nutrients
    This happens when there is too little wine yeast to do too much job. There have been many times when a winemaker will accidentally kill a significant portion of the wine yeast when rehydrating it in warm water. If the wine yeast is put in rehydrating water that is too hot, or the yeast is left in the water for too long, more yeast cells will be killed than anticipated by the wine yeast producer. This sets the stage for a fermentation with too little yeast, and in turn, produces too much hydrogen sulfide.

 

The Overall Theme:
It is important to point out that all the above reasons relate to allowing the yeast to ferment under stress. When a wine smells like rotten eggs, start look at thing that might be putting fermentation in a stressful situation.

Having a wild yeast that is fermenting out of its normal element is stressful; having any yeast ferment with a shortage of nutrients, or ferment in a temperature range that is uncomfortable to it is stressful; and having a little bit of wine yeastShop Potassium Bisulfite doing a lot of work are all stressful things that will lead to high hydrogen sulfide production. Having said this, the whole idea is to keep the wine yeast happy and you will keep the hydrogen sulfide production down.

 

What To Do Now:

— Give It Time: A lot of the hydrogen sulfide will release and dissipate on its own. It sounds like this may be the case with your wine currently. And, more will dissipate when you bottle the wine.

— Add Sufites: Also, adding a dose of sulfite to the wine will help to drive out the hydrogen sulfide. You can add the sulfite in the form of Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite. Just following the directions that are on the package and let the wine sit for a few days.Shop Wine Kits

— Use Copper: If the wine still smells like rotten eggs, you can pour the wine through a copper scouring pad. When the wine comes into contact with copper a reaction will occur the encourages the hydrogen sulfide to release as fumes. The reaction will cause the copper to corrode, so your may need to use more than on copper pad.

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.