A Quick Tip For Racking Wine

Girl Racking WineFirst off, many of you may be wondering, “what does racking wine mean”? So let’s get that out of the way first. In terms of making wine, the definition of racking wine is the process of transferring a wine or must from one fermenter to the next so as to leave the sediment behind.

Racking wine is necessary because you do not want the wine to sit on excessive amounts of sediment over extended periods of time. Doing so, can cause your wine to develop off-flavors.

Many beginning winemakers will often lose too much wine during the racking process. This happens because they try to eliminate all the sediment with each racking at the expense of losing some wine. In other words, they leave behind too much wine because they feel it has too much sediment with it.

Shop Auto SiphonLosses can total up to 3 or 4 bottles in a 5 or 6 gallon batch when using this type of methodology. Losing wine is something I’m not particularly to fond of, and I doubt you are either.

Here’s the tip for racking wine: to minimize losses when racking wine, always try to get as much liquid as possible each time you rack, even if some sediment comes with it. It’s not about leaving all the sediment behind. It’s about leaving the bulk of the sediment behind. Get as much wine as you can. It’s not until you get to your very last racking – usually the racking right before bottling – that you will want to eliminate all of the sediment at the expense of a little wine.

By the time you get to this point in the wine making process, there is usually only a little dusting of sediment to deal with, anyway. So your wine loss will be very minimal – usually it will be less than half a bottle of wine.
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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.

My Wine Recipe Doesn’t Call For Yeast

Man Fermenting Wine Without YeastI have an old wine recipe that came from Germany, through the family, but the wine recipe doesn’t call for yeast of any kind… What does the yeast do and is it essential in home wine making?

Thanks Connee
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Hello Connee,

Simply put, yeast is where the rubber meets the road. Without wine yeast you’ll have no fermentation, and with no fermentation you’ll have no alcohol! That’s why it is imperative that the starting wine must has yeast of some kind, even if the wine recipe doesn’t call for yeast.

 

What’s Going On?…

What’s happening when you make wine is sugar is being turned into alcohol through a process called fermentation. Yeast is what performs the fermentation. Each yeast is a single-celled, living organism that literally eats the sugars that are in the wine must and turns it into alcohol and CO2 gas. This is what wine making is all about.

 

Where Does The Yeast Come From?

Shop Wine YeastSome older wine recipes – like the one you have – will have no yeast of any kind in the recipe. This is because the yeast are expected to be provided by the fruit, naturally. Fruit, whether it be grapes, peaches, or strawberries, already have wild yeast on them so there will be a fermentation of some kind; it will just be fermenting wine without yeast you’ve added.

Using the yeast that Mother Nature provided was an acceptable practice way-back-when because wine yeast was not readily available. And, if your wine recipe is really, really old, they may not have even known that yeast doing the job. The connection between yeast and fermentation was not put together until as recently as 1857. So as you can start to see, this may be why your wine recipe doesn’t call for yeast of any kind.

 

Is The Wild Yeast Good Enough?

Homemade wines made from wild yeasts are marginal at best. Typically, the yeast found out in the wild have trouble fermenting to an acceptable alcohol level. The flavor and aromas they put off can be objectionable. Wild yeast wines also have a harder time clearing up. This is primarily because the yeast do not collect and clump Shop Grape Concentratetogether like domesticated wine yeast do (flocculation). The clumping helps the yeast to drop out cleanly and quickly. Domesticated wine yeast are bred to do this.

The only exception to this are some Old World wineries that rely on feral yeast from the vineyard. Feral yeast is maintained but out in nature. Great care is taken to keep the yeast strain maintained in the fields. Spent pulp from the fermentation is put back into the soils along the fines so that the yeast within the pulp can cover next year’s crops.

 

Yeast Today

Today things are different. Wine making yeast are readily available from wine making shops like us. These are the same strains of wine yeast used by professional Shop Wine Presswineries. They are able to ferment to an acceptable alcohol level and produce a much cleaner flavored wine. And, their cost is not that much different than buying a pack of baker’s yeast.

There is an entire array of wine yeast strains from which to choose. Each one has slightly different flavor characteristics or different qualities that make it well suited for a certain style of wine. You can find an example of some of these characteristic in this wine profile chart.

 

Here’s My Recommendations

My advice to you – without seeing the wine recipe – is to go ahead and follow it, but I would also add a packet of wine making yeast for every 5 or 6 gallons of must. You may also want to take a look at the article, Why Should I Use Wine Yeast that Shop Wine Making Kitsis listed on our website. This will give you a little deeper explanation about yeast and its role in wine making.

You may want to give up on using the wine recipe all together. While using a wine recipe that doesn’t call for any yeast can be done. Why risk your time an effort when there are so many more modern wine recipe available.

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.

Wine Oxidation Prevention – Keeping This Destructive Process Under Control

Reason For Wine Oxidation PreventionYou don’t have to have a commercial winery to create excellent wines.  In fact, many home winemakers produce fantastic wines that are similar, if not better, than the wines you buy at your local wine shop.  However, as we’ve seen many times before on this blog, making top notch wine isn’t something that magically happens.  You need to take great care during the winemaking process, follow all instructions, and carefully guide the process through to the very end.

One of the more common faults plaguing home winemakers is wine oxidation.  At certain times during the winemaking process, particularly after the primary fermentation, it is important to be careful about the exposure of the wine to the air. Excessive air exposure is a catalyst for wine oxidation.

One way to prevent too much oxygen exposure is to top up the wine to ensure very little space is available for oxygen to set up camp and cause wine oxidation. Topping up is one of the most important things you can do in the way of wine oxidation prevention.Shop Carboys

In addition to topping up the wine, you should also be using air lock during the secondary fermentation.  There are many different types of air locks, though the most common type uses water as a way to minimize oxygen exposure and maximize ease of set-up and use. The water in the air lock basically acts to allow carbon dioxide from the fermentation to escape out of the vessel while keeping oxygen from entering inside and oxidizing your wine.

Another stage where you can inadvertently cause problems with wine oxidation in your wine is during the racking/siphoning and bottling processes.  Use can add fining agents to your wine to help minimize the effects oxidation, as well as use specific techniques such as positioning the exit end of the siphon hose down into the wine to reduce splashing. Minimizing splashing is another wine oxidation prevention technique.

Of course, if you exclude too much oxygen, you run into problems with reduction, which is a whole other topic on its own.  If you smell Shop Wine Clarifiershydrogen sulfide (H2S) or “rotten eggs”, you may have excluded too much oxygen and you should aerate your wine right away to get rid of the smell.

Just remember that for the wine oxidation process to take place you need air. The best way to manage your wine oxidation prevention efforts is to manage the air that comes into contact with the wine.
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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.

 

Making Wine In Cold Weather

Making Wine In Cold WeatherI live in Louisiana in the south. Is it too late to make wine? Is there a problem making wine in cold weather? I have a lot of fruit left from the summer.

Mildred M. — LA
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Hello Mildred,

You can make wine all throughout the year without any problems. The only real issue is that you need to control your fermentation temperature. For a wine fermentation to go as it should, the temperature range needs to be between 70° and 75°F. If you get out of this temperature range, issues can arise, but beyond this, there is nothing wrong with making wine in cold weather.

If the temperature gets below 70° the wine yeast will start to go dormant. They can slow down to the point of not being active at all. This is known as a stuck fermentation. Or, the wine yeast may not start up at all. Warm the fermentation up to 70°F., and you will start to see activity.

This temperature range is true for most wine yeast except for a few exceptions like Red Star Pasteur Blanc wine yeast which can ferment at cooler temperatures without stopping completely. However, it will ferment very slowly.Shop Thermometers

If the fermentation temperature starts to get over 75°F., then the wine yeast can start to produce funny off-flavors and aromas. The resulting wine will not have a clean taste.

Beyond these concerns, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be making wine in cold weather, even in the middle of winter. Just have a means of controlling the fermentation temperature.

If you are not sure that you can keep the fermentation in this range, you may want to look into tying an artificial source of heat. It needs to be a very gentle source of heat. Most items you find around the house such as heating blankets are too warm and will put the fermentation well over the 75°F. This is just as bad, if not worse, as having the fermentation too cool.

If a fermentation is too cool there is no permanent damage done to the wine. It’s just not fermenting. Warm it up and the fermentation will start up again. But, if the fermentation becomes overly heated, youShop Heating Belt can encourage bacteria growth and the production of unwanted enzymes in the wine. Nothing harmful, but it will make the wine taste off or fowl, and it will be irreversible.

You may want to consider getting a thermometer for monitoring temperature when making wine in cold weather. Putting your hands on the side of the fermenter and guessing is not good enough. If you are making temperature adjustments you should have a fermentation thermometer of some type.

A heating belt is one way to warm up your fermentation a few degrees. This works good for cold basement situations or when fermenting in some cold corner of the house. It’s basically a strap that goes around the fermenter and plugs into an outlet. The only downfall is that there is no way to adjust its temperature of this belt.

Something else you can do when making wine in cold weather is to get a thermostat power switch. This is a power-interrupt thermostat with a temperature sensor.Shop Temp Controller It plugs into an outlet and controls the power to a heating source – such as a heating blanket or the heating belt – base on the temperature to which it has been set.

Mildred, I say if you got the fruit, then go ahead and make the wine. The month doesn’t matter. Making wine in cold weather is easy to do. It’s simply a matter of taking control of the fermentation’s temperature.

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.

Your Wine Might Be Suffering From Bottle Shock!

Splashing WineWhen you think about a wine you normally don’t think of it in terms of being in a good mood, humorous or even under-the-weather, but there is a term used by the wine making industry that might make you think that such terms are appropriate – bottle shock.

 

What Is Bottle Shock?

Bottle shock or bottle sickness is often used to describe a wine that has taken a plunge in quality. The overall impression of a wine going through shock can be described as flat or flabby, or just plain lacking in fruitiness and character.

In home wine making bottle shock usually happens right after bottling the wine. It can also happen again if an aging wine bottle is put through the tortures of shipping or transport.

It is referred to as a bottle shock because the effects are temporary and with a little rest the wine will come back to its good-ole self once again.

 

So, What Causes Bottle Shock, Anyway?

Bottle shock occurs when the wine absorbs too much oxygen in too little time. This is something that is likely to happen during bottling. It can also happen during shipping. Constant temperature changes and the sloshing of the wine in the bottle allows more air to pass through the cork than what is natural.Shop Wine Bottle Corkers

Wines can handle the slow, gradual infusion of air that is naturally allowed by wine corks. In fact, most red wines will benefit from such a scenario, but when the oxygen comes too fast a build-up of an element called acetaldehyde starts to become prevalent in the wine.

Acetaldehyde is naturally found in any wine, at least in small, unnoticeable amounts, but in higher amounts its presence can be detected as an odor of rotting apples or nuts. This is what’s noticed in wines that are suffering from bottle shock. The normal chain of events that happens during aging is disrupted by the production of an abundance of acetaldehyde.

 

Don’t Worry! The Effects Of Bottle Shock Are Mostly Temporary.

Over the course of time the acetaldehyde will slowly convert to alcohol, bringing the wine back into line with something enjoyable to drink. How long this takes depends on the severity of the bottle sickness. It could be as little as a few days or as long as a few weeks.Shop Wine Corks

This is just one more reason why aging is so important in wine making. In theory, you could pick up a newly bottled wine from your cellar one week and wonder why it’s so lifeless or even bitter, then the next week be overwhelmed by its superb flavor. Bottle shock can come and go that quick.
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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.

Aging Your Homemade Wine In A Refrigerator

Aging Wine Under RefrigerationI hope this finds you well and prospering. Is aging homemade wine in a refrigerator OK, say for several months? Also, what temperatures would be best for storing the wines long term? Would long, cool storage affect the aging of the wine? Thanks, and keep up the good work, we sure appreciate your help in many areas.

Name: N. Gerchak
State: Oregon
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Hello Mr. Gerchak,

Thanks for the kind words. We try very hard to answer your questions to the best of our ability.

It is perfectly fine, and preferable, that you age your wines for a few months. The need for aging your homemade wine is a given. I have found that with white wines 6 months will get the majority of the aging done. The typical white you find on the store shelf has been aged for about 18 months. Red wines could be aged anywhere from 2 to 5 years before they are sold.

Of coarse, the type of wine grape we are talking about enters into this equation, as well. For example, a Gamay will need much less aging than a Cabernet even though both are red grapes. This is because the make-up of each of these grapes are very different. Most notably, their tannin structure are on opposite ends of the scale – Gamay being low tannin, Cabernet being high tannin. This plays into how much aging is required for a wine to fully maturate and exude the maximum pleasantries that it can.

Just as the type of grape can affect the aging life of a wine, so can temperature, and this leads us back to answering your question about aging homemade wine in a refrigerator. Very simply: the cooler the storage temperature, the slower the wine will age. Although this is the general relationship between temperature and aging wines, there is still a optimal temperature range at which you would like to store your wines. This would be somewhere between 45°F. and 65°F. If you can’t store your homemade wine in this temperature range, then you want to get as close as you can.

Shop Wine Bottle CorkersSlow, cold aging can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. As home winemakers we tend to want our wines to age quickly. We want the time between bottling and consumption to be very short. We want them to be at their best in a matter of weeks, not months or years, for no other reason than we are impatient. On the other hand, aging the wine too quickly could leave you with a rack of wine that has all passed its prime. Wines do not continue to improve indefinitely with more aging.

With that being said, the temperature at which you age your homemade wine should be taken into consideration. partially based on your consumption habits. Your adjustment could be something as simple as storing the wine upstairs instead of downstairs, in the cooler basement or vise versa. Or as you have mentioned, moving the wine from the basement into a refrigerator.

As you may have gathered by now, aging homemade wine in a refrigerator is okay to do, just expect it to take longer to fully mature. If you do not have a problem with this, no worries, however if you are wanting you wines to age as quickly as possible, this may not be the route you want to go.

Buy Temp ControllerThere are a couple of suggestions I could make that would help improve upon your desire to refrigerate your wine. One is to age the wine at more-convenient, warmer temperatures for a few month – say, 3 to 6 months. Then store the wine in the refrigerator at its maximum setting (usually around 45°F). This will suspend the life of the wine for many years.

You could also go a whole different route. You could purchase a external, power interrupt temperature controller thermostat. This would allow you to set the refrigerator at any cooler temperature you would like, even 65°F. You do this by setting the refrigerator to its coldest setting. Then use the temperature controller to run the refrigerator as needed. It acts as an external thermostat that turns the power to the refrigerator on and off as need to maintain the temperature you select.

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.

There Are Black Spots In My Wine

Black Spots In WineI have made a number of batches of fruit wine and consumed most of it. This is the first time I have used cherimoya in a persimmon blend. Cherimoya is a very sweet fruit, large amounts of sediment, and does not fully clear after racking it four times.

The bottled wine is stored on its side in a dark environment for 6 months. Placing a bottle on its side creates a small air bubble at the top most section of the bottle. A black spot appears on the inside of the bottle within the air bubble. Most of these black spot will merge with the wine after the bottle is turned upright for a day or so.

What is this black spot in my wine?

Name: Mark A.
State: Hawaii
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Hello Mark,

It’s hard to know precisely what these black spots in your wine are, but normally we associate having black spots in your wine with either a mold or bacteria growth. Combined with the fact that it is appearing where there is an air pocket in the wine bottle, I would say that it is more likely to be a growth of some sort. This is where you would typically see mold or bacteria to start to grow – next to the air.

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteIf you did not add a sulfite to your wine before bottling such as: Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite, this would strongly add to my belief that a mold or bacteria is trying to grow in your wine. Sulfites are needed to help protect the wine from spoilage while it is in the wine bottle.

In addition to bottling time, you should also be using Campden tablets in the wine must before the fermentation. This is to rid the wine must from contaminates that may have come along with the fruit. The sulfites are added 24 hours before the wine yeast. Leave the the fermenter uncovered during this 24 hours to allow the sulfites to dissipate, otherwise they can interfere with the fermentation.

If you did not sanitize your wine bottles in addition to cleaning them with soapy water, this would also make me think that you are dealing with a mold or bacteria and could easily be the reason you have black spots in your wine. Cleaning the grime from the wine bottles is not good enough. They need to be sanitize with something like: Basic A or B-Brite. Any of these will easily destroy the microscopic contaminants that can grow in your wine.Shop Basic A

If you have been doing all the above, it is still possible for a mold  or bacteria to contaminate a wine and cause these black spots to form in your wine. It’s just a little harder to know how it is happening. It could be from the corks, screw-caps or whatever you are using to close the wine bottle. It could be from a piece of equipment you are using that has a nook-or-cranny that is not getting sanitized sufficiently. It could also be something as blindsiding as the sulfites you are using are old and expired. Any and all things must be considered.

After having said all this, I would like to point out that if you had said the black spots where at the lower part of the wine bottle my answer would have been completely different. I would have attributed this to tannins dropping out of the wine. This is very common and expected with some wines. But the fact that you said the black spot were next to the air pocket makes all the difference in the world.

Shop Bottle TreeAny time there are black spots in your wine, there is reason for concern. At this point I would be very hesitant to drink the wine for fear of getting sick. It is possible to save the wine by putting it all back in a fermenter; add sulfites, and re-bottle. The sulfites will kill the mold or bacteria. However, I do not recommend doing this if there is any question to the smell of flavor of the wine. Adding sulfite at this point will only stop the wine from getting worse and make it safe to drink. It will not improve the wine’s flavor or aroma. So if the wine taste or smells bad now, don’t waist your time and effort. Dump it.

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.

 

Do Wine Ingredient Kits Need Adjusting?

Wine Ingredient Kit That Does Not Need AdjustingI purchased a California Connoisseur Merlot concentrate kit. Do wine ingredient kits need adjusting of any kind. Like does this concentrate consist of tannins?  If it does, would it hurt to add tannin to help it’s staying qualities? Should I have an acid testing kit?  If so, does the tannin have to be added during/before fermentation or can I put it in at any time? Are there any other adjustments that need to be made to these wine ingredient kits?

Doug B.
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Hello Doug,

Thank you for this great question about adjusting wine ingredient kits.

All of the wine ingredient kits we offer have been adjusted and bench-tested with sample batches to produce a balanced, stable wine with great flavor. Any attempts to make further adjustments with various wine making ingredients such as wine tannin, acid blend or flavorings are completely unnecessary and more likely to be counterproductive.

These wine ingredient kits come complete with all the additional packets of wine making ingredients you will need to add to the wine along the way. All that is required of you to make a perfectly balanced wine is to follow the instructions that are included with these wine ingredient kits.

TShop Wine Kitshe producers of these kits crush the grapes and allow the juice to sit on the pulp until the right amount of flavor, color and body components are extracted from the grape skins into the juice. After the extraction process, the pulp is removed and the grape juice is concentrated, and sample batches of wine are made. It is at this time that any necessary adjustments are made to the grape concentrate for the sake of flavor balance and stability.

You can go ahead and make adjustments by adding other wine making ingredients to the wine must, however you will be running the risk of upsetting the stability and flavor balance of the resulting wine. In the case of adding tannin to a wine ingredient kit, you could be adding more than the wine will be able to saturate or hold within the liquid. This could result in the development of dark, dusty deposits in your wine bottles over time.Shop Wine Making Kits

Doug, I hope this answers your question about adjusting wine ingredient kits. I hope you can start to see, a lot of care goes into the production process of these wine ingredient kits, so much so that they do not need any further adjusting of any kind. Once they are packaged they are ready to be made simply by following the directions that come with them. Add the additional packets as called for, and you will be making a stable wine with great balance and flavor.

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.

Do You Have An Ice Wine Recipe?

Grapes Used In Ice Wine RecipeMy friend came from Canada and would like me to make ice wine. Is there a particular grape to use. I make scuppernong wine quite well in NC. Do you have an ice wine recipe you could provide me with.

Sue – NC
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Hello Sue,

I’m not sure if I can answer your question directly. That’s because making ice wine is more of a process. It’s really not made using an ice wine recipe, per se.

Ice wine is traditionally made from grapes that have been kept on the vine on into the colder winter months. The grapes are crushed and presses while they are frozen. Since it is only the water in the grapes, not the sugar and flavors, that are frozen, what releases during pressing is a concentrated juice with plenty of sugar and flavor. A majority of the water in the grapes is left behind in the wine press along with the pulp and skins. The result is a wine with lots of flavor and aroma.

As you might expect, ice wines normally come from the cooler regions of the world: Germany, British Columbia, etc. where this freezing occurs early and readily, but in North Carolina you can simulate this to some degree by freezing grape in a freezer and then crushing and pressing them very quickly, before the water in them has time to thaw and incorporate back into the juice. For example, you could try doing this outside on one of your coldest days. Pull the grapes out of the freezer and work quickly. This is what is at the heart of this wine, not an ice wine recipe.

Ice wine is made from a variety of different wine grapes such as: Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, even Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. All these grapes are wine varietals where 100% of the juice is used with no sugar or water added, regardless if it is made as an ice wine or not. That is one of there reasons there’s really not an ice wine recipe.Shop Ice Wine Kit

In the case of Scuppernong grapes where sugar and water is often added to cut the tartness of the grape, coming up with an ice wine recipe using them can be a little tricky.

If I were to approach a Scuppernong ice wine for the first time, I would freeze, crush and press as discussed before. Then I would add a sugar/water mixture to the wine must until I knew the acidity was diluted to a decent range. This can be done with an Acid Test Kit. Take an acid reading of your freshly pressed ice juice. The directions that come with the Acid Test Kit will give you the optimal acid level for your wine.

The water/sugar mixture should be made up of 2.5 pounds of sugar (5 cups) for every gallon of water. Hopefully, you do not need to add too much, since this is counterproductive to having the grapes frozen in the first place.

Once you have the wine must set up, the process is just as you have done in the past when you’ve made your grape wine. Add wine yeast, yeast nutrient and let the fermenting begin. No acid blend or wine tannin are need since plenty of both are coming from the ice-ed grape juice.

Realize that if you have some other grapes available to you besides Scupernong Shop Wine Making Kits– some grape varietals, the icing process would be a lot more effect since no water would need to be added back to cut the acidity of the juice. This is as close as I can get for you to an ice wine recipe.

You may also want to consider making wine from an ice wine ingredient kit. These kits have already had the freezing, crushing and pressing all taken care of for you. You do not need to worry about adjusting the acidity, or anything like that, either. Just follow the directions that comes with the ingredient kit, add the additional packets when called for, and you will have an ice wine with plenty of flavor and a big bouquet.

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.

Starting And Final Specific Gravity Readings For Wine

Taking Final Specific Gravity ReadingI am in the process of making my first batch of Scuppernong Wine. The SG [specific gravity] at the beginning was 1.116… The process has been going on for about 8 weeks now. The SG now is 1.030… I still see activity. What should the final specific gravity reading be when the wine is complete?

Name: Charles P.
State: South Carolina
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Hello Charles,

To answer your question, you should expect a final specific gravity for wine somewhere between .992 and .996 on your hydrometer.

Your starting specific gravity reading was a little high, so your wine yeast has a lot of work to do. Normally you would want a starting specific gravity between 1.070 and 1.100 for wine. Yours was 1.116. This may be more than the wine yeast can handle.

 

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Shop HydrometersSugar acts as a preservative. If the concentrate of sugar becomes too high, it can actually interfere with the wine yeast from even starting. Your fermentation started, so obviously this is not an issue for this fermentation.
  1. Wine yeast has a limited tolerance to alcohol. As the alcohol level rises in the wine must, the wine yeast finds it harder and harder to ferment, sometimes to the point of not being able to ferment at all. This would be known as a stuck fermentation.

 

Your starting potential alcohol level was between 15% and 16%. A majority of wine yeast will have a hard time fermenting to this level of alcohol.

My guess is that your fermentation will become very slow as it ferments the last few percentage points of sugar. If this is the case, just be patient and give it plenty of time to do its thing. As long as you can see some slight progress, you are okay.

However, depending on the wine yeast you used, the fermentation may not be able to finish at all – a stuck fermentation. If this is the case, you may be forced into a situation to where you need to dilute the wine must with water to cut its alcohol level. This will help the yeast to start up again and finish the fermentation.

Shop Hydrometer JarsSince the starting specific gravity for your wine was so high, I would recommend that you also take a look at the Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure. By doing this you may discover other things that can be done to help the fermentation along and get the final specific gravity for your wine where it needs to be.

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.