Making Wine FAQ
If you’ve been thinking about making wine or purchased one of our Wine Making Kits and want to learn more about the process or have questions, this FAQ for Wine Making should be of help. We also encourage you to join our discussion forums for sharing with the community what you’ve learned and your experience.
Frequently Asked Questions about Making Wine
Q: What are the most common mistakes for the beginning wine maker?
A: Here are a few common mistakes. 1) Use a fruit or juice which works well with starting out with making wine, 2) Sterilize everything and do it thoroughly, 3) Keep things simple and keep a record of what you’ve tried to identify what works and what does not, 4) Follow the instructions and make sure you don’t accidentally expose your juice to contaminants during fermentation periods.
Q: What do I need to do to ensure good results?
A: 1) Make sure that you understand the science and not just the art, 2) Start with good quality fruit or juice, 3) Try to understand and do research on the potential of the fruit or juice you are using, 3) Make sure you are measuring properly (pH, acid, etc.) to ensure a great outcome,
Q: What is the difference between sanitized and sterilized?
A: Sanitizing means a certain amount of microorganisms remain, and sterilization is eliminated all microorganisms. In wine making, sometimes you’ll need to sterilize and sometimes you’ll need to sanitize.
Q: Should I try to make a sulfate free wine (wine without sulfites or sulfar dioxide)?
A: While, it’s impossible to make a completely sulfite free wine, you can minimize the amount of sulfites, but it might compromise your outcome. You’ll need to find fruit or juice which has not exposure to sulfites. You’ll also need to minimize the amount of microbes and oxygen that your wine is in contact with at every stage.
Q: If my pH is off, how can I adjust or correct it?
A: The right pH is critical to good results with wine making. Adding acid will lower the pH, but increase the TA (total acidity). If your acid level is too high, you can reduce it by adding calcium or potassium carbonate. Attempting to lower your acid is not recommended and you should try to ensure that ensure that your wine making process minimizes the risk of having too high a level of acidity. Some fruits are high in acid and release it during the fermentation process.
Q: What does the terms ‘surely’ mean in reference to wine making?
A: This is derived from the French term ‘sur lie’. It refers to the sludge that exists at the bottom of the container used for fermentation
Q: Do I need to sterilize my corks?
A: Your corks, which are intended for home made wines should be coated with a protective coating, which will be removed if you sterilize them. You should minimize their exposure to any contaminant before corking your bottles.
Q: Why are oak barrels so popular in making wine?
A: It’s a combination of tradition, from historical necessity and the fact that oak lends itself to providing a neutral flavor. However, most large wine making companies are using stainless steel tanks for making wine. A wine aged in a French oak barrel will have a distinctive character, unlike those aged in a stainless steel vat. The best wines in the world are typically aged in oak barrels, but this is changing.
Q: Should I consider a juice with skins?
A: Fermenting wine with skins from the fruit will provide greater tannins and color, but it is not required.
Q: What is the ideal storage temperature and lighting for my wine to be stored in?
A: Typically you want your wine store to be around 5 C or 40 F, for long term storage. You also want your wine stored in a location without light, because UV will oxidize your wine and change the color.
Q: What is racking and how often should I perform a racking before bottling?
A: Racking is the process of removing the sediment through filtering. You’ll want to perform racking to achieve your desire level of clarity.
Q: Is there a way I can sweeten my wine during the process?
A: Yes, you can add sweetener, but need to make sure it is intended for wine making and not a table sugar.
Q: Can I use a juice concentrate to make my home made wine?
A: Yes, for a cost savings or convenience your can use concentrate. The best results will typically be derived from fresh fruit.
Q: How long should I wait to start racking?
A: Typically 7-10 days or when the S.G. (specific gravity determined with hydrometer) is between 992 and 995.
Q: Do I need to add acid or tannin to my juice wine?
A: It’s critical to get the proper pH level with your wine. You’ll need to test the pH and add acid as required to achieve successful results.
Q: Should I be concerned with the quality of my water being used in my wine making?
A: Generally no. If your wine making recipe requires water (concentrated juice requires) you’ll want to make sure that it’s water that you would be comfortable drinking and is not treated.
Q: How can I achieve a wine with a little bit of fizz or bubbles or conversely, how can I minimize fizz?
A: The bubbles or fizz are a by-product of gas trapped in the wine. The degree to which you out-gas your wine will result in a more or less gaseous outcome. Agitating your wine during fermentation increases out-gassing. You can employ an agitation process by vigorously stirring your wine, which should result in a foaming, which is releasing gas. By not agitating you can maximize the gas stored. Out-gassing will increase your wine clarity.
Q: Do I need to use both Potassium Sorbate and Metabisulfite before bottling my wine?
A: It really depends. the Potassium Sorbate inhibits growth and proliferation of yeast mold. So if you want a sweeter wine you’ll want to minimalize the re-fermentation process by adding Metabisulfite, which acts as a preservative and neutralizes the re-fermentation process. Based on the dry/sweet profile of your wine, you’ll combine the two to modify the outcome with your intended desire.
Q: How will I know when my wine is fermenting?
A: Your Hydrometer reading is the best way to determine your fermentation progress and how much alcohol there is in your wine.
Q: How do I know what types of adjustments I should make to my wine?
A: Testing your pH and S.G. and making sure they are what you expect or your recipe calls for.