News

Using Pectic Enzyme in Wine September 07 2016

Winemakers, are you using pectic enzyme in your fruit wines? You should be! Even though it's an elective additive, we do recommend that you use it at the start of your wine fermentation. It not only helps your wine appear clear and bright and prevent haze, it also helps break down the fruit pulp, extract more tannins from the skins, and increase juice yield! Use 1/2 tsp. of pectic enzyme per gallon of must at the very beginning of your fermentation, and watch your fruit produce a nice yield of clear, beautiful wine!

Highly Acidic Wines September 22 2015

Here are some tips to dealing with highly acidic wines.

  1. Do nothing and then sweeten near bottling time until balanced.
  2. Blend with a low acid wine.
  3. Ameliorate - Add water, often distilled or reverse osmosis.
  4. Ferment with Lalvin 1122 yeast, which can transform malic acid in wine to lactic acid and Co2.
  5. Malolactic fermentation - Malolactic fermentation (MLF) is an excellent tool to lower the acidity of wine, improve mouthfeel, and remove some unripe, green flavor characteristics. It is used in many red wines and it works very well in some white wines. A malolactic culture is added after primary fermentation.
  6. Cold stabilization – Chill wine in a carboy prior to bottling to precipitate out excess tartaric acid. As cold as you can get it (without freezing it) for a month or so should do it.
  7. Chemical neutralization - Potassium or calcium carbonate can be used to remove wine acids. The addition is typically done prior to fermentation for a couple of reasons. One is because there is less danger of losing aroma compounds. However, you can add it post-fermentation.
  8. Carbonic maceration - Ferment a small percentage of your grapes whole cluster (uncrushed) during primary fermentation.

Oaking Your Wine February 25 2015

Winemakers, you STILL don't need to be bored in February! We've been talking about ways to put the finishing touches on your wine at this time of year, and today we're following up last week's post on Cold Stabilization with some tips on Oaking!:

Oaking your wine is a great way to alter the flavor, texture, stability, and character of your grape wines. Putting your wine in contact with oak will improve the wine's stability, soften harsher aspects of young wine, add lovely vanilla flavors, and smooth out the overall mouthfeel and texture of the wine. Even if you don't have an oak barrel handy, you can use French or American oak spirals or oak chips to oak your wine. For a 5 gallon batch, about 1-2 spirals or 3 oz of chips for 4-8 weeks (or longer if you like) is usually about right, but taste your wine periodically and simply rack the wine off the oak when you're happy with the results!

As always, feel free to contact us with questions or stop by the shop to check out our current wine kits!


Cold-Stabilize Your Wine February 18 2015

Winemakers, you don't need to be bored in February! Even if you're not starting a wine right now, you can put the finishing touches on your wines from last season's harvest (or any other grape wine kit) right now! 

Cold stabilizing will reduce the acidity of grape wines and is a good technique to use for some of those highly acidic local WI varietals. You can cold stabilize the wine by placing it in a cold spot (between about 28-40F) for couple weeks or months even -- so now is a great time to use an attic, garage, or basement for this purpose. These chilly temperatures cause tartaric acid to precipitate as potassium bitartrate crystals. You will see the wine will get cloudy and crystals will form on the bottom of the carboy. Wait until the sediment has settled and rack when the wine is still cold. Because the procedure works on tartaric acid, it will only work effectively on grape wines and the wine must be fermented out completely first.

Dressing Up Wine Bottles December 19 2014

Consider using PVC Shrink Caps to dress up your bottles of wine. They're very easy to use: Just place them over the top of the bottle, submerge in boiling water for 1 second, and voila, you have bottles that look as good as the wine inside tastes! And that's a professional look for just under $3 for 30 bottles!

 


Backup Yeast October 28 2014

A simple yet important tip. Whether you are a homebrewer or a winemaker, always keep a backup pack of dry yeast on hand. They keep for a few years, especially if you keep them in the refrigerator. Montrachet yeast is a great all-purpose choice for wine and Safale US-05 works for pretty much any ale. You never know when you'll have to save that precious batch with a backup yeast...


Malolactic and Sweet White Wines October 21 2014

Make sure your white wines don't undergo malo-lactic fermentation. That buttery diacetyl mouthfeel can be avoided by keeping the wine in the coolest part of your house (62 degrees or lower) and keep ing the free SO2 level around 20-30 mg/l or stabilizing it with potassium sorbate post fermentation. Also, if you plan on backsweetening, MLF is the enemy. The result will be a sweet syrupy unpalatable mess.


Adding Malolactic Cultures to Wine October 07 2014

Have you added your Malo-lactic yeast culture yet? The 2014 harvest has been a turbulent one for most grape varieties. Creating a bit of havoc when trying to control Volatile acidity. Malo-lactic will help smooth out the puckering bite of malic acid in red or white wines. Use one Wyeast pouch ($7.99) or White Labs vial ($6.99) for 6 gallons.


Make a False (Second) Wine August 21 2014

Looking to stretch your wine grapes even farther this year or want to try something new? Make a "second" or "false" wine with your grape skins. Here's how it works:
  1. Crush your red wine grapes and carry out the primary fermentation as normal.
  2. Press the juice from the skins and drain into the secondary fermenter as normal.
  3. Instead of tossing the skins, put the skins back in the fermenter and fill with water up to 1/2 the amount of wine you just pressed. That is, if you initially made 6 gallons of wine, add up to 3 gallons of water. If you want a little more color and body, add 1 liter of red grape concentrate per gallon of water.
  4. Add 2.5 lb of sugar (you may want to boil the sugar in the water you added in step 3 and cool down to room temperature before adding to skins), 3 tsp. acid blend, 1 tsp. yeast nutrient, and 1/8 tsp. wine tannin per gallon of water you added.
  5. Stir and cover. You don't need to add yeast, because the skins have lots of yeast left over from the first fermentation.
  6. Make the wine in the same fashion as your other wines.
The "false" wine will be thinner than the original, but with very little work and cost, you can have a delicious table wine. Happy winemaking!

Finishing Fermented Wine August 18 2014

Hey there Vintners, Garagistes, and winos! A few tips for your now brand new wine from this years harvest...have you cold stabilized? AKA, lowering the wine temp down to near freezing for a few weeks to drop out the tartaric acid in the wine. You will really tell the difference in mouthfeel next spring.

Tip #2: It is time to oak your wine, if you so desire. If the barrel route is cost prohibitive, try oak spirals. They come in American and French and are quite effective. I just threw one French light toast into my 3 gal. wild ferment Marquette and another into my 3 gal. 60%Noiret 40%Marquette.

Tip#3: Draw a sample on your palette, look into the future and be creative now, while the wine is still in its infancy.


Crystal Clear Wine July 11 2014

Time for this week's wine tip! Pictured are two wines at different stages in their development. The Chilean Moscato on the right is very near the end of fermentation after two weeks in primary. On the left is a Sauvignon Blanc waiting to be bottled. Notice the drastic difference in clarity. The Sauv. Blanc was made from concentrate and followed the kit instructions verbatim, with bentonite added pre-fermentation and isinglass added four weeks in. Alternatively, the Moscato will be aged for six to nine months and arrive at the same clarity by adding pectic enzyme initially, cold-stabilizing, and undergoing two to three rackings during elevage in bulk. Then bottled accordingly. 

Clarity can be achieved in different ways depending on your schedule, space, style and maybe your patience level.

Is it mother nature vs. an interventionist hand of god? No. It's just your own creativity at work. 

All clear.