Technique

Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Way to Better Wine Kits

I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of veteran winemakers at a guided wine tasting I conducted this fall. Together, they had made dozens of batches of wine, were using advanced techniques and had won medals; most recently two gold, one silver and three bronze medals between them in the WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. But their accomplishments aside, the interesting part was a casual question from one of them. He mentioned that they had a few bottles from a premium, single-vineyard kit that had turned out quite poorly — not only was the wine not completely clear, it had developed very slight carbonation and the flavor and aroma was off. I went through my usual troubleshooting routine: temperature, stirring, timing, kit age, wine age, starting volumes, etc. Nothing really stood out as a probable issue, since the majority of the bottles were very good — indeed, this was a silver medal wine. When we got to sanitation, however, it became clear what had happened. Their cleaning product of choice was a chlorine-based winemaking detergent that they rinse