Technique

Performing Bench Trials

At first glance, bench trials for home winemaking may seem like more trouble than they’re worth. Variously called bench trials, bench tests, or even kitchen table trials, they are focused experiments targeted at answering specific questions. Whatever they are called, the routine is pretty similar. A sample of wine is collected, divided into a number of treatment subsamples, and treated with different materials, doses, or conditions. After some period of waiting, they are tasted and, possibly, analyzed to determine effects of the treatment. Whether carried out on a wine laboratory bench, a garage workbench, or the kitchen table, they give you information about what is likely to happen to the main wine batch if treated in the same manner. Trial experiments can be a bit laborious, but I am convinced that they are not only valuable, but indispensible in some situations. With a little preparation and some basic know-how, any hobbyist can undertake bench trials. Use the trials to make decisions about blending, sweetening, fining, or other wine additions. The basic structure is the same for any of these and