Topic: Wine-Wizard

Vineyard Planning, Varnish on Mini Barrels, Macerating Skin Packs, and Degassing Wine

A proud new owner of a sulfite test kit wants to know how often to test. The Wizard also answers questions on backyard vineyard planning, urethane coating on an oak barrel, extended maceration on a kit’s skin packet, and degassing wines.

Adding Acid to Sanitize, Sparkling Situation: Wine Wizard

The second and perhaps the most important reason is that if you’re doing your final rinsing with an acid blend that contains malic acid, you’re potentially releasing a food source for various bacteria into your equipment and into your cellar’s environment (like drains).

Yeast-free wine and quality control: Wine Wizard

The good news is that most wines that you can buy off the supermarket shelf don’t contain a lot of yeast cells; if they did, the wines would look cloudy and might even re-ferment in the bottle.

Chlorine Conundrum & Country Wines: Wine Wizard

I never use any chlorine-containing cleaning compounds in my winemaking and don’t recommend it to anyone. There are plenty of alternatives for cleaning, one of my favorites being sodium percarbonate.

Pressing Issues, Making Bread with Wine Yeast and Light Strike

Dumping your pomace and finding the grapes still juice-laden after pressing is frustrating. The Wizard has some pointers for getting the most from your grapes as well as baking bread with wine yeast and the concerns of light strike on your wines.

Acidity & Aging

My situation is that the total acidity (TA) rises during the aging process.What could be causing this?

Percent New Oak, Overcompensating, And The New Need For Sanitation

While the concept that is listed on some wine bottles or talked about in literature — % new oak — seems simple, there is a lot of nuance to this term. Learn about the concept as well as problems caused from overcompensating to fix a hydrogen sulfide stink with copper. Plus, the Wizard talks about the new need for sanitation in our world.

Barrel Cleaning, Kit Wine Tannins and Proper Sulfite Levels

It seems to me like your Carmenère is a candidate for one of the “Wine Wizard’s” cheapest, easiest and most favorite ways to improve a tannic wine; egg white fining!

Reconditioning Corks & Bottle Film

I’m glad you sent this question, though, because it brings up an important rule of the world of corks: corks must have a certain amount of moisture and “give” in order to work to keep the wine in and air (mostly) out.

Suspicious Syrah & Fermentation Aids

The first step I would take is to look at the package and/or the packing slip that came with the grapes . . . I hope they say Syrah. If you still doubt the paperwork, certainly get in touch with your juice supplier and ask to see the paper trail from the lot of juice you received.

Dumb Merlot & Filmy Finishes

QOne of my favorite batches is a 2002 Merlot, which was naturally fermented (no added sugars or yeast), aged in an oak barrel for 10 months or so, stored in stainless kegs

Bracing Barrels & Coffee Wine

The level of caffeine, of course, will depend on how much coffee you used in the recipe — just as your average cup of joe will be stronger with the more ground coffee, so will your wine.

Fine Filtering Chardonnay and a Sour Mead

Pad filters are stacks of cellulose sheets that get mounted in a stainless steel or metal frame. Wine or juice is forced by a pump or by air pressure through the cellulose pads and depending upon the “tightness” of the cellulose matrix and the back pressure on the system, a varying degree of particles will pass through.

Off Odors, Port-Style Wines, and Brass Fittings

QI recently bottled a batch of Cabernet Sauvignon, which tastes fine but has an off odor. I keep all my notes and regularly follow the same procedures. I buy my juice already

Crazy pH Shift, Acidity in Wine Kits, Adjusting SO2, and Untoasted Oak Barrels

A winemaker experiences a large and unexpected pH shift from a feral fermentation. Learn about the potential reasons as well as what to do with an untoasted oak barrel, pre-fermentation sulfite levels, and acid adjustments in wine kits.

Colossal Corking: Wine Wizard

QWhere can an amateur buy a cork for a 3-liter bottle? The one I have measures 2 1/8“ by 13/16” (54 mm by 30 mm). I have several of these bottles and

The Oak Necessities, Wine “Numbers,” and Stalled MLF

Just like many aspects of winemaking, decisions need to be made about how much you’re willing to invest and oak barrels are one of the biggest ticket items. The Wizard has some advice for oak alternatives, as well as feedback on “wine numbers” and when your MLF stalls.

Carbs in Wine & Bottle Styles: Wine Wizard

QRecently I had an inquiry from a diabetic in regards to the amounts of carbs, sugars and calories in dry white and red wines made from concentrated kits. In calling the manufacturers,

Leaking Corks & Special Enzymes: Wine Wizard

QI recently made my first batch of white Zinfandel from a kit. I followed the directions and it’s coming along fine. I bottled and used synthetic corks in the bottles. I let

Fruit Flies & Hot Petite Sirah: Wine Wizard

QI am following the recipe for tomato wine from the August-September 2002 issue. The recipe says to loosely cover the must in the primary fermenter with a plastic sheet. But after about

Weird Wines & Fish Tanks: Wine Wizard

QMy friends have been asking me weird winemaking questions. I can’t answer them. Can you? If a yeast packet says it makes 1–5 gallons (3.8–19 L) of wine, what would be the

High-pH Wine, Stabilizing Whites and Cucumber Wine

Higher pH wine can be easily fixed . . . but the question is, should they be? As is often the case, the answer is sometimes. The Wiz digs deep into one reader’s pH dilemma as well as properly stabilizing a white wine and a fermentation question on a cucumber wine.

Concentrate vs. Acid Blend & Filtering Concerns: Wine Wizard

QI am considering making a five-to-six gallon batch of peach or apricot wine. A friend said I can add a can of white grape-juice concentrate (100% fruit) in place of an acid

Dry Wine & Mystery Grapes: Wine Wizard

QI like ’em dry. Question? My last batch of Merlot (2001) came out too sweet. What can I do now if I want the finished wine to have less sweetness? R.J. Yalch

Vanilla and Fluted Bottles: Wine Wizard

QI often hear about the vanilla flavors in red wines. I know that those flavors are derived over time from aging in oak barrels. I wanted to know what would happen if

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