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Wine Wizard

When to Add an Airlock

Kaboom! Nobody likes an exploding carboy! “Fermentation happens,” as one of my professors at UC-Davis always used to say. Sounds like the perfect home winemaking meme to me (or t-shirt). As wine


Timing Purchases

That’s a great question and one, like so much in winemaking, that can be answered by a bit of a compromise. You’re on the right track by ordering your supplies right before


Adding Skins to a Red Ferment

There’s an ancient tradition of making wine using skins “donated” from other fermentations and projects. The one you list above is one such scenario. The most well-known incidence of this practice includes


Monitoring Malolactic

MLF is a bit confusing for some because it’s called a “fermentation” but it’s certainly not as active, visible, smellable, and in your face as your primary sugar-to-alcohol fermentation. MLF happens when


Removing Stains in Carboys

There is indeed a combination of things I think could help, but it may take a little bit of elbow grease on your part. Two years is a long time for a


Boosting Aromatics in White Wines

It sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right to optimize aromas in what should be “aromatic” white varieties. I would recommend you make sure your full process includes the following


Will Alcohol Kill Mycoderma?

There is a great summary of what mycoderma is and ways to deal with it written by Daniel Pambianchi at www.techniquesinhomewinemaking.com/white-surface-film. Folks can check out that blog post for a deep dive,


Sanitizing with Sulfur Dioxide and Citric Acid

I’m happy to help clear up the argument for you. First, I have to say, “good on you” (as my New Zealand harvest interns used to say) for questioning what you hear;


Tips For a Successful Malolactic Fermentation

I’m glad you’re using an ML nutrient (Opti’Malo Plus™ — made by Lallemand and sold through various outlets like Scott Labs and many home winemaking stores), which makes for the most predictable


Thoughts For Underripe Red Grapes

I don’t know how many cases of rosé wine are consumed in the United States each year, but I know it’s a heck of a lot. Pooh-poohed in the past as cheap


Tips For a Complete Fermentation

I’m sorry to hear about your fermentation troubles! Indeed, it’s one of the most important aspects of winemaking to master since sluggish and incomplete fermentations can ruin a batch. Here are some


Reducing acid in wine

In challenging vintages where grapes just don’t get ripe enough, or in areas where summer is cool and the growing season is short, acid reduction methods can really help. The most used


Over-Sulfiting Your Grape Must

I think you’ll be OK. Even if you’ve made a double sulfur dioxide addition to your Chambourcin grape must it should eventually still take off, albeit perhaps a bit more slowly than


Micro-Oxygenation on a Small Scale

A brewer’s O2 wand is an interesting tool and one I’m not familiar with personally, though I think I understand the concept. There isn’t much of a description of the item on


Reducing Bitterness in Citrus Wine

Ah, the glory and heartbreak that are citrus fruits in winemaking. So many aromas! So many bright flavors! So much acid! And so many potential bitter compounds.  This is where a good


Troubleshooting A Blueberry Wine

Ah, blueberry wine! Blueberries, huckleberries, and black currants are all favorites when it comes to home winemaking, partly because they can make dark, mouth-filling wines that can resemble the finest red wines


Aging Wine Temperatures

I read the article you reference and I agree with the advice, to a point. That it’s OK to keep wines in the bulk-aging stage (before bottling) warmer (the referenced article says


Using Screw-Top Bottles at Home

It’s a little tough to tell from your letter which kind of screw-top bottles you’ve got so I’m not sure if you’re talking about what I would call screw top “sample bottles”


Reducing Water Consumption In Your Winery

It generally takes about 6 gal. (23 L) of water to make one gallon (3.8 L) of wine though estimates vary from as little as 2 gallons (7.6 L) all the way


Producing Balanced, Low-Alcohol Wines

Funny you mention this topic because I’m currently working on a lower-alcohol project at work (at Plata Wine Partners, I often develop custom projects for clients, and this is one). The brief


Stabilizing A Fruit Port

Well, in the olden days of fortified winemaking, potassium sorbate (a potassium salt of sorbic acid) wasn’t even a thing. While sorbic acid does occur naturally in some plants (rowan berries and


Tips For Rehydrating Dry Yeast

Rehydrating dried yeast is a simple and straightforward process, and one that I find to be essential when using dried yeast for winemaking purposes.  The simple answer to your question is no,


Sacrificial Tannins Explained

Tannins, or the compounds in grapes (and oak barrels) that contribute to a pleasing sensation of astringency in red (and some white) wines, are found in grape skins and seeds. As a


Tips For Blending Wine

I think that’s a pretty cool idea! How many of us are lucky enough to hang out with such an obviously collaboratively minded group of folks? And, though it may seem daunting,


Making Wine With Smoke-Effected Grapes

Indeed, the last few years (2017 and 2020 especially) grape growing areas in Northern California and other parts of the state including the Central Coast have experienced historically large wildfires. If grapes