Whether you are a beginning winemaker or you have been making wine for some time and have experienced some problems, it is important to understand the most common mistakes made in winemaking so you can learn how to avoid them.
By far, the most common problem in most winemaking failures can be attributed to equipment that is inadequate. Many people make the mistake of using common household items for their winemaking because they seem to be familiar to the carboys, spoons and air locks that are required for the process. It is important to note; however, that specific winemaking equipment is constructed of special materials. Using products made from other materials can have an impact on your finished wine.
In general, it is a mistake to attempt to reuse products that have previously held other items, especially foods. While you may believe that the container is clean, too frequently food odors will have become immersed into the plastic and as a result your wine may become tainted. In addition, it is not a good idea to use even brand new plastic pails due to the fact that the UV protectants that are used in the plastic could leak into the wine. It is far better to go ahead and invest the money necessary to purchase proper winemaking equipment so that you can be certain of the success of your wine.
Failing to follow instructions is another common mistake. The process for making wine may seem to some beginning winemakers to be complicated. As a result, there usually exists a strong urge to simplify the process. This is generally a mistake. If you are an experienced cook, you probably understand the necessity to follow the directions of a recipe. Veering from the recipe usually results in disaster. The same is true in winemaking.
The quality of your water can also impact the quality of your wine. Hard water or water that has a high mineral content can result in wine that has flavors that are somewhat off or even have somewhat of a haze. It is also important to know that water from a salt-exchange water softener should not be used for winemaking. To be certain of the best quality wine, it is usually best to use bottled water for your winemaking. The difference in the results will certainly be appreciable.
Proper yeast handling is also essential. Have you ever made homemade bread? Yeast must be moistened at the proper temperature in order to become activated. If the temperature is too cold, the yeast will fail to activate. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast. This is because yeast is a living organism and it must be handled properly for success. As a result it is imperative to make sure that you maintain proper temperature control during the fermentation process. Ideally, it is best to try to maintain a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Be certain the temperature remains consistent. If the temperature in your fermentation area is too cool, the formation process will take too long, which can lead to excess fizz in your wine.
Another common mistake is eliminating the sulfite in the wine. The most common reason for this is sulfite allergies. It is true that some people are allergic to sulfites; however, it is important to point out that even if you eliminate the sulfite from the wine the wine will still not be completely sulfite free due to the fact that the yeast always creates additional sulfites anyway. The purpose of the sulfites is to prevent spoiling and oxidation. In less than a month the wine will begin to taste somewhat off and in less than three months it will be rendered practically undrinkable.
Finally, make sure that you give your wine the proper amount of patience and time that it requires. Successful winemaking truly is an art form. In order to appreciate the results of your labor it really is best to wait the amount of time necessary for the wine to improve before you attempt to drink it. In far too many cases, beginner winemakers have believed they had a bad batch of wine when the problem was that they were trying to drink it too soon. Be patient and wait and you will appreciate the effort.
The Process Of Manufacturing Wine
Wine, which is a drink we all know and love, is produced from fruits such as grapes and berries by drying and then fermenting them. Once the fruits ferment, the sugar within the fruit will turn into alcohol. The wine will display a different color, taste, and aroma depending on the type of fruit that it was made from.
Wine is divided into three main categories – fortified, sparkling, and table. Wine is known as fortified when a bit of brandy is added into it to enrich the alcohol. Wine is deemed as sparkling when it has the right level of C02. Table wine, the third category, is wine in it’s natural form – which is different from any other type of wine.
Normally, grapes are the preferred ingredients for making wine. They contain an equal amount of acid and sugar, which can’t be found in any other type of fruit. When drying the grapes, a high amount of heat is needed. To use grapes with wine though, you need to know the exact harvest season. If you don’t pick the grapes during the right time, your wine will suffer due to the level of increases in sugar and a lack of acidic extent.
During the beginning stages of wine making, the grapes or other fruit is crushed by a large cylindrical container that will deflate the juicy parts of the fruit into large bags that are attached to the machine. Next, the juicy part of the fruit is fermented through the use of heat. During this part of the process, present yeast will help to convert the sugar into alcohol. Once the sugars start to break down into alcohol, the wine will get a buttery flavor.
Next, is the settling. Settling involves the yeast cells or any other type of material flowing near the top of the wine. Once it is at the top, it is then filtered with all sediments being gathered on the filter. Aging is next, which is where the wine is tightly packed away in special contains that won’t allow any contact with air for months – sometimes even years. Once the wine has been aged, it is transferred into smaller bottlers then shipped out and sold.
When the wine is bottled, it is done in a way that makes it easy to distinguish the several types of wine. Colored bottles are preferred, as they will greatly reduce the risk of oxidation, damage, and several other possible risks. The bottles are also labeled according to their manufacturer and brand as well, which makes it easy for you to select the wine you are interested in.
Once you have bought a bottle fo wine, you should always make sure you store it in the right place. The most appropriate places to store wine is the basement, underground cellars, or anywhere else that is damp and cool. No matter where you store your wine at, you should always make sure that temperature stays around 55 degrees F.
Never store the wine in an area where the temperature fluctuates, as it can harm the wine. A humidity level of around 60% is also important, in order to keep the cork moist. If the temperature is too low, it can also harm the wine. When you buy your wine, you should always make sure that you store it in the right location. Wine that is properly stored and taken care of can be truly amazing once you drink it – making it more than worth the time and effort.
The Importance of Racking
The process of racking involves siphoning the wine away from the sediment. Sediment is primarily comprised of inactive or dead yeast cells. While yeast is beneficial to the must in the beginning, over time it becomes multiplied many times over. As each new generation of yeast is produced, older generations die off. Most of what you will see at the bottom of your fermentation container is dead yeast cells.
As the fermentation nears the end of the cycle, there should be a significant amount of active yeast cells which are beginning to wind down because they are running out of fuel; or sugar. After the sugars have become consumed the active yeast will begin to starve and feed on itself. An enzyme will be produced that will break down the inactive yeast cells. The purpose of this is to release the nutrients in the dead yeast cells that can be used by the yeast cells that are still active. This process is called autolysis. Over a period of time, an otherwise perfectly good batch of wine may be ruined as a result of this process.
Racking is also important because it can assist in the clarification of the wine. If wine is not racked, the end result will be wine that may be clear on top; however, the bottom will be somewhat thick and hazy.
The racking process is not terribly difficult. In fact, it is quite simple. A siphon is necessary for racking. The key; however, is to make sure that you siphon off the wine without stirring up any of the sediment. It should be noted that while food grade hosing can be used many winemakers do prefer to use what is known as a racking tube in order to rack their wine. This is because, if you are not careful; using a hose to rack the wine can cause the sediment to become stirred up and it may also move around. A racking tube fits on the end of the hose and serves as a type of wand that gives you control over where in the container you draw the wine.
In the old days, wine was racked by manually sucking on the end of the hose; however, today there have been numerous advancements made in winemaking equipment. One of those advancements is an automatic siphon that works with a pump in order to start the siphoning action.
Keep in mind that during the first two to three rackings, it is not essential to remove all of the sediment. You should try to siphon as much of the wine liquid as possible; however, even if you do bring up a small amount of the sediment this will be fine. It is during the final racking that it becomes imperative that you make sure that all of the sediment is left behind with none following through into the wine.
After the fermentation process has been completed, it you still need to rack the wine (such as when storing wine long-term in bulk) it may be necessary to add Campden Tablets to the wine. The purpose of this is to ensure that any air that may have entered the wine during the racking process is driven out. Campden Tablets will also help to minimize oxidation. Keep in mind that this is not a problem when racking wine while the fermentation process is ongoing as the CO2 that is produced during fermentation will naturally eliminate any air that may have been introduced.
The Importance of Cleanliness and Patience in Winemaking
Winemaking can be an extremely satisfying activity and hobby with a wonderful end result that also makes for wonderful gifts. If you have already experimented with brewing ales and beers you may already be familiar with many of the steps associated with the process of making wine. Winemaking is generally the next step for many home brewers. If you have already done some brewing at home, you probably already own much of the equipment that is required and are familiar with the patience and cleanliness that are required in the process.
If this is a completely new process to you; however, and you have not previously done any home brewing then it is important to make sure you understand the role of both patience and cleanliness in the process of successful winemaking.
Cleanliness is one of the most important steps of making wine. If your work area and equipment are not clean you will find that you encounter innumerable problems in the process and the end result will not be successful. One of the keys to producing good wine is to make sure that your equipment as well as your work area is kept very clean and sterile.
Before you begin any new batch of wine you will want to make sure that your equipment has been cleaned and sanitized thoroughly. The most common cause of homemade wine becoming contaminated is equipment that has been poorly cleaned. In fact, it has been estimated that as much as 90% of failures in winemaking can be attributed to poor sanitation.
To avoid this problem, make sure that you sanitize all of your equipment that will touch either the juice or the wine. This can be easily done by rinsing all equipment using a solution of MetaBisulfate. Potassium MetaBisulfate is an active ingredient that is used in Campden tablets; a compound that is frequently used for sanitizing brewing equipment.
Place 3 tablespoons of the compound into a 1-liter container of hot water. If the container is kept tightly sealed and stored at room temperature, the cleaning solution should last up to six months. Using the solution, make sure all equipment is rinsed thoroughly. Next, rinse all equipment with cold water.
Make sure you take the time to clean all equipment before you store it as well as before you take it out of storage before each use. This will help you to avoid any contamination problems and assure that your equipment lasts as long as possible.
In addition, patience is quite important as well. One of the most common mistakes of many new winemakers is a lack of patience. They want to rush through the steps and as a result discover that their wine is not all that it could be. Remember that just because wine is ready to bottle that does not necessarily mean that it is ready to drink. While it is common to be anxious to drink your homemade wine, waiting is well worth the effort. At a minimum, it is usually about a month from the time your wine is bottled before it will be ready to sample. Generally; however, you should wait at least six months before your wines will have developed sufficient character and be ready for drinking. For heavy reds, be prepared to wait at least a year for the wine to improve. While waiting may be difficult, you can be assured that it will be rewarded with a bouquet that is absolutely delicious.
The Right Temperature For Storing Wine
Although position is important when storing wine, temperature is the most important storing factor overall. Even though you may not have the ideal conditions for storage, you should always have the optimal level of temperature. The temperature when storing your wine is very important, as it affects the overall quality, flavor, and longevity of the wine. Most wines need to be stored for long periods of time, which is why the temperature is so very important.
The temperature for storing wine should always be between 50 and 65 degrees F. When stored in this range, the wine will develop quite nicely. In the days before refrigeration, wine was stored in underground cellars and caves. When refrigeration came along, it quickly became the easiest and most preferred way to store wine, as it allowed you to maintain the same desired temperature.
In this day and age, science plays a major role with wine making. Science has proved over the years that aging is actually a chain of chemical reactions that occur over time. Depending on the temperature, the chemical reactions can either be good or bad. Chemical reactions all have unique energy factors that need to be met for each individual reaction to happen. If the temperature isn’t right, the chemical reactions in the wine won’t occur.
If wine is stored in direct sunlight or in a hot area, the increase in temperature can result in a chemical reaction that can damage both the flavor and the quality of the wine. Wine that has been damaged from heat will normally turn brown due to the oxidation. When this happens, the flavor and quality of the wine won’t be any good. Wine that is damaged from heat loses all of it’s flavor and color, making it virtually impossible to drink – or sell.
Colder temperatures on the other hand may slow the aging process, although it can also prevent the wine from getting the chemical reactions it needs as well. Lower temperatures may not affect the quality or taste of the wine, although it isn’t recommended. All bottles of wine, until they have been opened, should be stored in a location with a temperature above 50 degrees F. This way, the wine will be in the proper temperature for storage and able to get the chemical reactions it needs.
You should keep any open bottles in your refrigerator, as the average temperature is normally 41 degrees F. You shouldn’t keep bottles that you haven’t opened in the fridge, as the temperature is much too cold. If you follow the above tips when storing your wine, you’ll find the taste to be spectacular. Storing wine will always raise the value and add to the taste – providing you store it the right way.