Wines take a long time to age out to perfection. Sometimes a touch of glycerin can help smooth out the flavor and assist in achieving a polished flavor.
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9/4/2006 -- If I am making wine from concentrate, is it recomended I add the bentonite at the pre-fermentation stage?
Secondly, should I add yeast nutrients at the same time I add the yeast?
Thirdly, should an acid blend always be added to help in the fermentation period?
Lastly, what should the brix level be at so that I know how much water to add to the concentrate?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Several manufacturers of 28-day or 6-week wine kits recommend adding the bentonite in pre-fermentation. However, I have found that I get a better result if I add the bentonite in the secondary.
You should dissolve the yeast nutrient in a small amount of warm water, and add it to the must prior to pitching the yeast.
Acid blend is not always necessary. If you are working from an established recipe, and it calls for some, then by all means add it. However, if you are building your own recipe or "winging it", you should do an acid test to determine if additional acid over and above that contained in the fruit is necessary.
The original specific gravity for a sweet wine should be around 1.120. For a dry wine, right around 1.090-1.095 works. I'm not certain what the brix equivalent is for those SGs.
7/5/2006 -- We have a recipe for making orange wine. It calls for wine yeast, grape tannin, and yeast nutrient. Which of your products do you suggest? And what quantities?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: For the grape tannin, we only have one choice: Stock number 7390 is powdered tannin from actual grape skins.
For the yeast nutrient, we have two options. Our basic nutrient (stock number 7357) is a compound called diammonium phosphate. It's a lab-produced clone of the chemical compound in dead yeast cells and works very well. We also have a product called servomyces (stock number WLN3200). This is produced by Dr. Chris White of White Labs - the largest producer of liquid brewing yeasts in the USA. Either of these products works very well, although I would probably recommend the first one if you are running a test batch.
For yeast, I highly recommend the Lalvin 71B-1122 strain (stock number 4919). This yeast works very well with fresh fruits and fruit juices, and is excellent for lighter colored fruits such as peaches, pears, apples, and citrus.
As for quantities of each ingredient, that depends on the batch size. Grape tannin is only used in very small amounts (roughly 1/8 tsp per gallon) so the smallest sized package would be plenty. The yeast nutrient requires between 1/2 and 1 tsp per gallon. There are about 2 tablespoons in a 2oz bag. One packet of yeast is sufficient for anywhere from 1 to 6 gallons.
7/29/2004 -- What are the other chemicals and tablets that you would recommend for us if there is a need of them?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: If you are starting with fresh fruit (rather than canned juices), I would recommend campden tablets. Allowing the juiced fruits to sit in a campden solution for 24 hours will kill off any wild yeasts that could spoil the ferment.
For honey or for some high pectin fruits (such as strawberries or plums), I would recommend yeast energizer for a quick start to the ferment.
I always recommend yeast nutrient, which is sort of a vitamin pill for the yeast. It helps to sustain the yeast through the critical first few weeks of the ferment cycle.
I recommend pectic enzyme for high pectin fruits as well. This helps break down the pectins and avoid hazy wine.
Add a touch of grape tannin for wines made from fruits with low tannic acid.
Acid blend and/or the various types of acid should be added cautiously to balance the tartness in the wines and assist in a strong ferment. Certain fruits are high in one type of acid or another, so blindly adding acid blend without knowing the acid balance in the fruit you are using is not a good idea.
When the ferment is completed, a stabilizer such as potassium sorbate should be added prior to sweetening the wine, in order to prevent refermentation in the bottle. Also, some sort of sulphite is important for long-term storage to prevent spoilage and/or oxidation.
7/28/2004 -- Hey, it's been 3 days since I mixed up my batch of wine and the only thing I have done different from the instructions on the package was when I rehydrated the yeast I put a little bit of sugar in the warm water and left it in there for about 20 minutes instead of 15... but it's not fermenting and it's actually sucking water back up the hose... should I pour it out and start over????
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Never pour out a batch of homebrew until all options for fixing a problem have been exhausted. Many times, it's a simple fix. In this case, there are a couple of problems that may be the cause.
The first possibility is that the fruit juice you are using may have preservatives. You didn't specify if you used fresh fruit, juice from a homebrew store, or other commercial juice. Whenever you use commercial juice (from somewhere other than a homebrew shop), check the label for the words "potassium", "sulphite", "sorbate", or "to preserve freshness". Any of these indicate that a preservative has been added. Overcoming preservative is a long and arduous process, and if you write back and tell me that's the problem, I'll send a complete answer.
Another likely problem is that the yeast was no longer viable. Dry yeasts usually last about 3 to 6 months in room temperatures, up to a year or more when refrigerated. However, yeast is tricky and these timeframes are just estimates. Humidity, changes in temp, and other factors can shorten yeast life. If you have a slow start or a stuck ferment, always try a new yeast starter with a fresh packet of yeast.
A third factor could be residual cleanser or sanitizer on the equipment. In this case, thoroughly sterilize and rinse a new fermenter. Siphon the liquid into the new fermenter, being sure to oxygenate it thoroughly. Then start over with a fresh yeast starter.
10/14/2003 -- I am making scuppernong wine and it has a vinegary taste to it. Any suggestions as to why this happened and what I can do to eliminate the vinegary taste?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: There are a number of different reasons for why it would have a vinegary taste. First of all, do you have any sort of milky or egg-whitish film floating on top of the wine? If so, this is called a "mother of vinegar", and it indicates that the wine has actually turned. It's easy to identify because it's a little different from the meringue-like foam or carbonation-like foam layer that forms during fermentation, and it never goes away. The best thing to do in that case is to cultivate the vinegar, bottle it, and use it for cooking or as gifts. Homemade vinegar is very good.
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If there is no "mother" floating on top, then the taste can be for a number of other reasons. The most common is that some sort of bacteria escaped the sanitation process and has soured the wine. Another could be that a wild yeast strain got in before your cultured yeast got active (in some cases, people prefer to use the natural yeasts that reside on the grape skins... which is sort of a crap-shoot for flavor.) Wild yeasts tend to have a more vinegary or cidery flavor. Another cause could be that all the sugar was eaten up in the fermentation process. Scuppernong is a sourish grape to begin with, so it doesn't make a good dry wine.
In any of these cases, you can use a combination of refermentation, resweetening, and aging to mellow the flavor. Start by checking the viability of the current yeast. If your wine is still in the fermenter, dissolve a few tablespoons of sugar in warm water and add it to the fermenter. If you notice refermentation, then your yeast simply used up all the original sugar. At this point, you can continue to add sugar in small amounts until the yeast dies, or you can rack your wine into a new container and add a stabilizer (such as potassium sorbate) to prevent refermentation. Once you have done one of those things, then you can sweeten the wine to taste. Adding a touch of ascorbic acid (an anti-oxidant) can help.
Finally, after complete fermentation and sweetening, age is your friend. Let the wine age in the bottle (on its side) for at least 6 months before tasting again. You should notice the flavor mellowing a bit. I usually put 1/4 of my batch in a dark, cool place and leave it for two to three years, and those wind up being my best bottles.
If after 6 months to a year in the bottle, the vinegary taste is still strong, don't throw the wine away. Scuppernong grapes add an interesting flavor to foods, and the wine can be used in place of wine or cooking sherry in food recipes.
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